At Double-A Bowie both excitement and attendance are up

At Double-A Bowie both excitement and attendance are up

For long-time fans of the Orioles minor leagues, it might come as a surprise. That were many seasons when the Double-A Bowie Baysox, playing in the shadow of Washington, D.C., struggled to draw fans.

But in the last few years that has turned around. There have been four nights this year when Bowie drew 7,000 or more and for eight Friday and Saturday dates this season, the Baysox have averaged 7,125 fans. 

From 2022 to 2023, Bowie ranked No. 3 out of of the 120 full-season minor league teams with an average attendance increase of 34.4 percent. Wichita was No. 1 with a higher increase on average and and Binghamton No. 2.

These are better days throughout the minors with overall attendance for all teams up 4.4 percent from 2022 to 2023. Double-A teams were up 5.3 percent and the Eastern League itself, of which Bowie is a member, was up 6.8.

Bowie is nowhere close to the top drawing team in baseball or even in its own league. But the gains are still impressive and ongoing into this season.

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O's game blog: Wrapping up the series and homestand with Game 3 against Seattle

Corbin Burnes

The Orioles offense broke out Friday in a 9-2 win over Seattle. But after taking an early 2-0 lead last night, the Orioles scored just one more run and lost to the Mariners 4-3. That sets up these teams for a rubber match today to end this series and homestand.

The Orioles are 3-2 in rubber match games and Seattle is 5-3.

The Orioles are 28-15 overall and they are 4-3 on the homestand ending this afternoon before the Orioles head to St. Louis and Chicago for a week-long road trip with the Cardinals and White Sox.

The O's bullpen last night allowed four runs or more in a game for just the fifth time all year and for the second time in the last 23 games.

With last night's game, the Orioles have officially extended their sweepless streak to 106 consecutive regular season series of at least two decisions (no ties), passing the 1903-05 New York Giants for the third-longest such streak in major leauge history.

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Before his return to the majors, Hays made a return to Double-A Bowie

Austin Hays

For Orioles outfielder Austin Hays, it was a familiar ballpark, just one he had not seen in person for quite awhile. From May 7-12, and a few days before that in practice, Hays spent time with the Double-A Bowie Baysox on his injury rehab assignment.

From 2017 through 2019, Hays, on his way up in the Baltimore farm system, spent time with Bowie. Once the Orioles' No. 1 ranked prospect, he batted .283 with 31 homers, 34 doubles and 108 RBIs in 144 total games with the Baysox. His best season in Bowie was in 2017 as just a 21-year-old when he hit .330 with 16 homers, 17 doubles and 54 RBIs in 64 games. He was a finalist that year for Baseball America’s National Player of the Year.

Now years later, he wore the Baysox uniform as a major league vet. A player for the kids now coming up through Bowie can try and learn from.

“I can feel that, as a bit older now, there are a lot more questions asked then when I was there in the past. Just kind of, ‘What’s your approach on this? What does your routine look like?’ Different questions like that,” Hays said the Bowie players asked him.

And he was very happy to help those prospects if he could.

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O's game blog: A chance for a series win against the Seattle Mariners

Adley Rutschman

Facing a first-place Seattle team, one that was 20-12 since April 10 with a team ERA of 2.63, the Orioles won the series-opening game last night. And now a win in one of the next two days will give them yet another series victory.

The Orioles offense, one that scored 3.7 runs per game the previous 14 games to rank 21st in the majors in that span, broke out last night in a 9-2 win with 10 hits and five for extra bases. Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser all had two-hit games. Henderson and Cowser each drove in two runs as the Orioles went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position and had five players drive in runs.

The first five batters scored to start the game, the first time the Birds have done that since the first six scored to begin a July 30, 2023 game against the Yankees. Jorge Mateo and Henderson tripled to begin the seventh inning, the first time the Orioles have hit back-to-back triples since July 3, 2008 versus Kansas City (4th inning, Adam Jones and Brandon Fahey). Rutschman and pinch-hitter Austin Hays followed with doubles, marking the first time the team has hit four consecutive extra-base hits since Sept. 23, 2018 at New York (6th inning, Trey Mancini, Tim Beckham, Renato Núñez and Joey Rickard).

Henderson and Jordan Westburg have hit leadoff homers the last two games, the sixth time in O's history the team has hit a leadoff homer in at least two consecutive team games and the first time since Melvin Mora did it June 28-29, 2002. Baltimore leads the major leagues with five leadoff homers this season; Henderson's four leadoff home runs are tied with Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber for the most this season.

The O's have an majors-best 2.12 ERA in their last 15 games (since April 29). During that time, the Birds have surrendered an majors-low 92 hits while holding opponents to a .186 batting average. The 2.12 ERA is the best mark in a 15-game span in a single season by the Orioles since Sept. 6-21, 2014 (2.06).

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Fewer Ks, but also a low ERA: Corbin Burnes talks strikeouts

burnes @ WAS

Orioles right-hander Corbin Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner and a pitcher who finished seventh and eighth for that honor the last two years, is having another strong season. It’s his first year in Baltimore and could be his only year with the Orioles.

He is 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA over nine starts. His ERA and his .579 OPS against are both the best numbers he has posted since that Cy Young season.

But one area on the stat sheet that looks quite different for Burnes is his strikeouts total. He got 11 on Opening Day and looked dominant then with big swing-and-miss stuff, but his K rate is 7.17 per nine innings since then.

This is a pitcher with a combined 677 strikeouts (second in the majors to Gerrit Cole) from 2021 through 2023. His K rate for those three years was 10.8.

But it’s 8.2 this season, and as of yesterday Burnes ranks tied for 20th in the American League in strikeouts.

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O's game blog: John Means faces the Mariners in the Seattle series opener

means pitching white

After a walk-off win on Adley Rutschman’s two-run homer Wednesday afternoon allowed them to split their two-game series with Toronto, the Orioles' homestand will end this weekend as they host the American League West-leading Seattle Mariners.

Wednesday’s win – after the O’s went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base – improved the Birds to 3-2 on what is now a rain-shortened eight-game homestand.

The Orioles have won four of six games and also eight of 11, 15 of 22 and 19 of their past 27 games. They are 15-9 at home and 9-5 in series-opening games. When that series opener is at home, they are 5-3.

Over the last 14 games, the Orioles have been in the bottom third of the majors in scoring runs, but they have been No. 1 in the majors in team ERA. That has allowed the Orioles to go 10-4 at a time when they have scored 3.7 runs per game in the last 14 contests to rank 21st-best in the majors in this span. The team is batting .219 in this stretch with an OPS of .691.

Baltimore batters have produced just seven runs the past three games. The O’s went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the Toronto series and are batting .167 (8-for-48) with RISP their past seven games.

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A plan comes together: Looking for more walks, Ryan O'Hearn is getting them

Ryan O'Hearn

It was an interview in early March at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla. at O’s spring camp. As usual, Ryan O’Hearn was being himself which is something reporters have really come to appreciate.

He’s almost always available to us and he doesn’t go through the motions in these interviews, he provides real insight.

Like he did for me on another sunny day in Florida.

While delighted with his first season in Baltimore, O’Hearn said he didn’t want to be a “one-hit wonder” and he had a specific plan to improve this year - one that is playing out nightly in Birdland.

Few players have ever changed their walk-to-strikeouts totals so dramatically year-over-year. In the 2023 season, O’Hearn had a 4.1 walk rate and 22.3 K rate. In his career he had never come close to walking as much as he struck out.

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O's end frustrating day on offense with a walk-off, keeping a few streaks going

Adley Rutschman

Sometimes you have a frustrating day with runners in scoring position but can still win. Sometimes you get a homer from your first and last batters of the game to win. Sometimes you have streaks riding, and it looks like they will end. But they don't.

Sometimes you see curious moves happen in an inning like the bottom of the eighth, but you still win. Sometimes a segment of your fans get frustrated and restless and are sure you will not win. But you still do.

The Orioles improved to 27-14 and avoided the season's first three-game losing streak with Wednesday's 3-2 walk-off win over Toronto.

Adley Rutschman's two-run homer with no outs in the ninth produced the team's fifth walk-off win of the year and his second career walk-off homer. He also hit one April 13 of this season versus Oakland. It was the O's first walk-off homer when trailing since Rio Ruiz on Aug. 11, 2019 against Houston.

The Orioles now have 12 comeback wins.

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O's game blog: Wrapping up the rain-shortened series with Toronto at Oriole Park

Adley Rutschman

After they lost on Sunday and Monday and rained out last night, the Orioles' last win came by a 5-4 score in 11 innings Saturday against the Diamondbacks. Today the Orioles wrap up this rain-shortened series now of just two games with the Blue Jays.

After Monday's 3-2 loss in 10 innings, the Orioles are 26-14. They are 14-9 at home, 6-2 against American League East teams, 5-5 in one-run games and 3-3 in extra-inning games. 

Overall, they have won three of five, seven of 10, 14 of 21 and 18 of their past 26 games.

Toronto, which entered this series 0-5-1 in its last six series, is 19-22 for the year, which includes a record of 10-13 on the road. The Blue Jays have lost four of their past seven, seven of 11 and 12 of their last 18 games.

Toronto is now 1-1 in extra innings, 8-6 in series openers and 4-5 in one-run games. 

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Four O's on pace for 100 RBIs, including one that loves to drive the ball to right-center

Jordan Westburg

After last night’s rainout, the Orioles are still at 40 games played and holding. At 26-14 (.650) they remain on a 105-win pace.

They also have a few players that, at their 40-game paces, would put up some nice final numbers.

* Gunnar Henderson projects to hit 49 homers with 109 RBIs.

* Adley Rutschman projects to hit 32 homers with 101 RBIs.

* Anthony Santander projects to hit 28 with 101.

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As O's have outfielders struggling, will Kyle Stowers get a chance?

Kyle Stowers

The Orioles offense has produced just four runs and seven hits the last two games and they have lost both. By 9-2 to Arizona and by 3-2 in 10 innings to Toronto.

The Orioles, Cubs and Phillies are the only teams in MLB this year without a three-game losing streak. The Birds need a win tonight to avoid one now. The O's earlier had a pair of two-game losing streaks that never got extended.

The Baltimore offense began last night first in the American League in slugging, second in OPS, first in homers and in runs per game at 5.08.

But Baltimore batters have produced just 3.8 runs per game, scoring 49 runs their past 13 games. Thanks to a team ERA of 2.14 in this span, the Orioles have gone 9-4.

The pitching carried them as the offense slowed a bit – good teams find a way and they have.

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O's game blog: The Toronto series opener

burnes @ WAS

Coming off a season when they posted a winning record against every other American League East club for the first time since 2014, the Orioles are playing well again so far this year in division games.

There have just been so few to date. The Orioles went 3-0 at Boston April 9-11 and went 3-1 versus the Yankees at home in late April and earlier this month.

The Yankees have played the most AL East games with 16 while Boston has played the fewest, just three.

AL East vs. AL East in 2024:

.857 - Baltimore (6-1)
.500 - New York (8-8) and Toronto (5-5)
.400 - Tampa Bay (4-6)
.000 - Boston (0-3)

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O's outfielder Kyle Stowers on his latest shot at the big leagues

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Kyle Stowers played in the bigs with the Orioles for parts of the 2022 and 2023 seasons, batting .207/.267/.331/.598 with three career homers in 131 plate appearances.

He has spent parts of the last four years at Triple-A, posting a .773 OPS there in 22 games during the 2021 season. He had an .884 OPS during part of the 2022 season and an OPS of .875 in 68 games last year. In 2024 he has hit .240/.315/.541/.856 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 36 games.

That is a ton of Triple-A plate appearances – 948 to be exact – and now he’d like to show he can stay in the majors.

“I feel ready. I feel ready to help this team win,” Stowers said this afternoon after his latest call-up. “Whatever, you know, my role is, whatever I’m called to do. Just going to go out there and give my all and have a good time. Play with a lot of gratitude. Just happy to be here.”

He had some rough times last year. He missed a couple of months with a shoulder injury and late in the year was hit by a pitch that fractured his nose.

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Assessing some aspects of the O's with team about to hit 40-game mark

Brandon Hyde

As the Orioles hit the 39-game mark of their 2024 season on Sunday, they lost to Arizona failing to sweep that series. And they lost a game in the standings to the New York Yankees.

But now that they are about 25 percent of the way into the season, we can take a look at a few aspects of a team that is in first place and on a pace to win 108 games.

The starting pitching has sure been solid: Seeing Kyle Bradish and John Means return to the rotation by early May was big for the team. Now we wait to see if they can stay on the field but having them back already and throwing well was about a best-case scenario based on the outlook from March.

Corbin Burnes has been big as expected. His ERA and WHIP are close to what we saw during his 2021 Cy Young Award year. Cole Irvin has come up very big for the Orioles. And when Grayson Rodriguez returns, they will have six starters for five spots.

This unit has gotten the job done nicely and currently ranks third in the AL in ERA and sixth in innings.

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O's game blog: Chance for the homestand to start with three-game sweep

henderson at home orange

As the Orioles have now opened a 1.5-game lead atop the American League East and have started the season’s longest homestand with two wins, today they have a chance for another series sweep.

Their third series sweep of the year came last weekend at Cincinnati and now they can add their fourth today. April 9-11 they won three straight at Boston to sweep the Red Sox by a 23-10 score. April 15-17 at home they swept Minnesota by a combined 22-9 score. Last weekend their starting pitchers threw a combined 19 1/3 scoreless innings at Great American Ball Park as they swept the Reds by a 16-2 score.

Friday they beat Arizona by 4-2 and yesterday they won 5-4 in 11 innings. Two of their past three wins have come via extra innings.

The Orioles hit two homers in Saturday’s win and lead the majors with 59 with the Dodgers next with 56. Gunnar Henderson hit his 12th homer of the year on Saturday and he is tied for the major league lead with Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna and Houston’s Kyle Tucker.

Henderson hit 28 homers last year in 622 plate appearances or one every 22.2 PAs. This year that ratio is one every 14.3 with 12 in 172 plate appearances.

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After hot start, O's rookie Colton Cowser looks toward more opposite-field hitting

cowser in dugout gray

O’s rookie outfielder Colton Cowser got off to such a hot start this year, that even when his bat cooled a bit in late April, the stat sheet for him still looked good enough that he was named the American League Rookie of the Month for March/April.

After the first 17 games this year, he was batting .400 with a 1.229 OPS. Around that time he was named the AL Player of the Week for a period where he went 10-for-23 with four homers.

But then from April 23-May 2, he was 3-for-28. Cowser did not start for two days in the series last weekend in Cincinnati and realized then he needed to start using left and left-center more and get back to his usual all-fields batting approach.

The one that got him to the big leagues in the first place. The one that helped him win those awards.

“I think I made a conscious effort in Cincinnati to start to get going back that way. I had a couple of days not in the lineup and really was just trying to think about what’s been going on.

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O's game blog: Looking for two in a row over Arizona

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Beginning their series against Arizona last night, the Orioles were just one game over .500 this year versus National League teams. They had gone 1-2 against Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, 3-0 versus Cincinnati and 1-1 against Washington.

A 6-5 record became 7-5 against the NL with Friday’s 4-2 win to start a nine-game homestand.

Cole Irvin won his fourth straight start, the first time he has done that in his career. And he became the first Oriole to win four in a row since Kyle Bradish from Aug. 20-Sept. 8, 2023.

He ran his scoreless innings streak to 22 2/3 innings before allowing Ketel Marte’s third-inning solo homer. That is the longest scoreless streak for the club since Dean Kremer went 22 2/3 from June 17-July 4, 2022.

Irvin, who threw a season-high 95 pitches, improved to 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA while allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings. Over his past four starts he has given up just two runs on 15 hits over 25 2/3 for an ERA of 0.70 in that span.

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The trend continues: O's rank low in walks, high in runs, high in wins

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Here is a tale of two Orioles hitters. Both are doing well in 2024 and both did well in 2023. But their batter profiles have changed a lot in what is still kind of a small sample for this year. But we're about to reach the 25 percent point into this season, so it’s not that small.

But so far Adley Rutschman is walking a lot less and striking out more, yet still hitting well. Ryan O’Hearn is walking more, fanning less and still hitting well.

Rutschman’s OPS was .809 last year, and he took 59.0 percent of pitches he saw. This year he is taking less at 51.6 percent, but heading into Friday’s series opener with Arizona, his OPS was at .814.

But his walk rate has dropped from an above-average 13.4 percent last year to a below-average 5.1 now. His strikeout rate is up from 14.7 to 17.7. Making less contact, walking less but still a very productive hitter for the Orioles.

Now take Ryan O’Hearn, who had an .801 OPS last year. That figure was .915 at first pitch Friday (and is .930 now).

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Os game blog: Cole Irvin pitches the series and homestand opener versus Arizona

irvin pitching gray

After splitting a two-game series at Washington, followed by Thursday’s off day, the Orioles get back on the field tonight. They host the Diamondbacks to start their longest homestand of the year featuring nine games versus Arizona, Toronto and Seattle.

The Orioles (24-12) lead the AL East by a ½ game over the New York Yankees, who lost Thursday to Houston. Baltimore is 12-7 at home and 12-5 on the road.

The Orioles have won five of their last six, seven of nine, 12 of 17 and 16 of the last 22 games. They went 4-1 on their road trip to Cincinnati and Washington.

By winning the second game of the two-game series at Nats Park, 7-6 in 12 innings, the O’s extended their club record streak of regular-season series without being swept to 103. At three hours, 35 minutes, it was Baltimore's longest game of the season. It was also their longest game by innings since a 13-inning matchup on May 20, 2022, against Tampa Bay.

The Orioles are now 10-2 after a loss this year.

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Mental-skills work is part of the turnaround for lefty Cole Irvin

Cole Irvin

On this date last year, O’s lefty Cole Irvin was pitching with Triple-A Norfolk trying to find his way back to the big leagues. A 10.66 ERA his first three starts got the veteran shipped back to the farm to figure it out.

He would end the 2023 season with an ERA of 4.42 for Baltimore, not great. But he did pitch to a 3.22 ERA from June 10 on last season, showing improvement and some promise.

But nothing like this.

Nothing like what he has shown during this 2024 season when he is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA in six starts.

He has not been scored on since April 15 versus Minnesota. He pitched 6 1/3 scoreless Friday night at Cincinnati, his third straight scoreless start.

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