The upcoming winter should also be filled with excitement in Birdland

mike elias

If Birdland is excited about how this 2022 season is shaking out, just wait until the offseason.

Sure, no games will be played, but the build up for the 2023 Orioles and anticipation of a season where the club should contend from the first game will be strong. 

Sometimes the hot stove season is almost as good as the regular season. This could be one of those times. The Rule 5 draft won't be an offseason highlight this time. 

Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has made a few comments this year that were about spot on. It started before the season when he seemed to challenge some of the young pitchers to step up this season and start to put up some numbers. Guess what - several have done exactly that. He also indicated this team would not be a 100-loss team and might be much more competitive. Right again.

Recently he talked about "blue skies" ahead for the organization. Yep.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win at Rogers Centre

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After beating the Toronto Blue Jays just five times all last season and not winning one of the six series the teams played, the Orioles matched that win total against Toronto in 2022 last night with 12 more games to play.

The 2021 Birds went 5-14 and 0-5-1 in series versus the Blue Jays. With last night’s 7-3 win at Rogers Centre the current Birds are now 5-2 against Toronto and are 1-0-1 in series. They will have another series win if they take one of the next two games. They are looking for their first series win in Toronto since July 5-7, 2019.

The Orioles have won their last four games versus Toronto by a combined 30-14 score, scoring 10, seven, six and seven runs in those games.

In last night’s win, outfielder Ryan McKenna went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run and an RBI and recorded his first career three-hit game. Six different Orioles drove in runs and Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer in the third inning. It was No. 16 this year for Mountcastle, but he had had just one homer in his previous 31 games.

He continues to torment Toronto pitchers. In seven games against the team this year, Mountcastle is batting .464 (13-for-28) with four doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs. In 32 career games versus Jays pitching he is batting .360 (45-for-125) with six doubles, 14 homers and 28 RBIs.

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After scoreless outings with IronBirds, Cade Povich moves up to Bowie

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Talk about making a nice first impression. And a second one too. On Aug. 2, the Orioles traded closer Jorge López to the Minnesota Twins for a package of four pitching prospects, the headliner of which was lefty Cade Povich.

The 22-year-old Povich was assigned to high Single-A Aberdeen. In his first IronBirds outing, he pitched six scoreless innings on one hit. In his second he threw six scoreless again, this time on three hits.

When he took the mound for Aberdeen for the first time on Aug. 6 at Ripken Stadium against Wilmington, he struck out the first five batters he faced and had a no-hitter going through 5 2/3 innings. He finished with eight strikeouts and no walks.

He went from being a bit stunned in hearing he was traded to showing his new organization they may have gotten a good one.

“It was a bit shocking,” Povich told me recently about hearing about the deal. “You think you will be one of those guys with one team your whole career and you hear that when you are younger. Kind of crazy then to be part of a trade. Once everything calms down you have to look at the bigger picture. Someone wanted you enough to trade for you and it was for a good closer, so pretty big deal.”

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O's game blog: The series begins at Rogers Centre

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The road trip that began in Boston for a one-night appearance and then moved to Florida headed north on Sunday, and the Orioles have arrived in Toronto for their latest series at Rogers Centre. The O’s and Blue Jays split four games in mid-June there when the Orioles were nine games under .500 and six games out of the third American League wild card spot.

Tonight they begin play (59-55) four games over .500 and 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay for the third AL wild card spot. They led that spot by a ½ game after Friday’s 10-3 win against the Rays, but scored just three runs in losing the last two days there.

The Orioles are 2.5 games back of Toronto for the first wild card spot and two games back of Seattle for the second spot. In sitting behind Tampa Bay for a playoff spot, the Orioles are also just ½ game ahead of Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox. So as of now, just three games separate six teams from Toronto through the Twins and White Sox for three playoff spots.

For the season the Orioles average 4.24 runs per game, and the AL average is 4.21. But over the last 12 games, the Orioles have gone 8-4 and have scored six runs or more in seven of those games, going 7-0. However, in the four losses they scored one, three, two and one run, respectively.

For the season they rank 10th in AL team batting at .238 and 11th in OBP at .306. They are seventh with a .392 slugging mark, and their .698 OPS ranks ninth and is behind the league average of .700.

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O's look to regroup in Toronto after tough end to Trop series

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Some days in baseball you just have to tip your hat to your opponent and move on to the next. You don’t want to, but that’s the best play.

So it is for the Orioles who lost a chance at a season-ending tiebreaker edge against Tampa Bay with Sunday’s 4-1 loss. Thanks to Jorge Mateo’s double to leadoff the ninth inning, they were not on the wrong side of a perfect game and were not no-hit or shutout. But their lineup did get dominated in losing the season series 10-9.

It was still a great improvement from the 1-18 record versus Tampa Bay of a year ago, but if these teams tie for any playoff spot, Tampa Bay now holds the tiebreaking edge. The O’s had a chance for their first season series win over the Rays since 2016 and also their first series win at Tropicana Field since June 23-25, 2017.

But Drew Rasmussen buzzed through their lineup on just 28 pitches through three innings, 44 through five and 79 through eight. They were not taking many pitches but if they had they just might have found themselves down 0-1 and/or 0-2 in the count against a pitcher on a roll.

Rasmussen had pitched to an ERA of 2.16 his previous seven starts and of 2.01 in eight home starts and looked every bit that pitcher and then some on Sunday.

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O's game blog: The series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays

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They have exchanged blowout wins and today the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays play the third and deciding game of their three-game series at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles (59-54) and Rays (59-53) have split 18 games with nine wins each. Today’s winner takes the season series, which could be critical later. Head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker for any standings ties that could impact the playoffs.

The Orioles routed the Rays 10-3 on Friday night behind a season-best 19 hits on a night they went 7-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Adley Rutschman and Cedric Mullins hit solo homers for Baltimore. And the bottom third of the O’s order – Rougned Odor, Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo – went a combined 10-for-13 with two doubles, four runs and six RBIs.

Mateo set a career high with five hits, going 5-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs. The team's 19 hits were the most in a game by the O's since June 6, 2021 versus Cleveland (they had 21), the most against the Rays since May 13, 2018 (they had 19), and the most by the Orioles at Tropicana Field since Aug. 10, 1999 (with 20).

Yesterday, Tampa Bay had 11 hits in an 8-2 win over the Orioles. A three-run last of the third versus O's lefty DL Hall gave them a 4-2 lead, and they added some late runs for the final margin. In his big league debut, before being optioned back to the minors, Hall allowed five runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings on 76 pitches.

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A look at DL Hall's outing and the key rubber match today

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It is hard to keep your momentum going in baseball and stay riding a high when your team loses. And after an upbeat Friday and a 10-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles lost big on Saturday by 8-2 at Tropicana Field.

Now these teams meet one more time this weekend and this season, and the weekend series and season series will be determined by today’s result. That is big for the Orioles as head-to-head results will break standings ties at the end of the year.

And should they tie with Tampa Bay for any spot, including any of three wild card playoff berths, today’s game will be the decider after 18 games and nine wins for each side.

If the Orioles and Rays tied for the third wild card spot, for instance, the season series winner would advance while the other team would go home. So yeah, big game today.

Lefty DL Hall had a poor outing in his big league debut, allowing five runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. After he gave up a run in the last of the first, he struck out the side in the second, getting swings and misses for strikeouts on fastballs at 96 and 97 mph. It was a dominant inning and looked like he was settling in. But, with two outs and a man on first in the Rays third, he allowed three straight run-scoring hits as Tampa Bay opened a 4-2 lead on its way to the win.

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O's game blog: DL Hall faces Tampa Bay in his MLB debut

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After Friday’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays by a 10-3 score, the Orioles have a chance today to win this series and create further separation between these clubs. Today, the Rays host the O’s in the second contest of this three-game series.

The Orioles (59-53) scored in seven of their nine at-bats last night and produced a season-high 19 hits in their latest win, which was their eighth in the last 10 games. They have also won 12 of 17, 24 of 33 and 35 of the last 53 games.

Tampa Bay (58-53) has now lost three in a row and four of five games. The Rays are 7-12 in the second half and they are 27-32 since June 4.

The Orioles currently hold the third wild card spot in the American League. They are two games behind Seattle for the top spot and 1.5 back of Toronto for the second spot. And the Orioles are just ½ game ahead of both Minnesota and Tampa Bay for that WC-3. Did we mention how close this race is!

Orioles pitchers continue to have a pretty good season and their team ERA of 3.88 ranks tied for sixth-best in the AL. Since the All-Star break, the Orioles are 13-7 with a team ERA of 3.64 which ranks sixth in the AL. The Orioles have greatly improved their strikeout-to-walks ratio in the second half. For the year, they rank seventh with a ratio of 2.81 strikeouts for every walk but in the second-half that ratio is 3.53. In 178 second-half innings, the Orioles have walked 49 and fanned 173.

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O's make statement with win and Hall debuts today

mullins and rutschman

We’re not necessarily picking on the four-letter network, and no, I am certainly not picking on MASN. But maybe I am picking on ESPN.

In their ESPN.com MLB preview for this year, they projected a record of 58-104 for the Orioles. Another 100-loss season. Hey, at least they did see the team gaining six wins from last season.

Well, as of last night the Orioles are on pace for 85 wins, a gain of 33. As of Friday night, the Orioles also hold an American League playoff spot after they took a 7-0 lead on the way to a 10-3 rout of the Tampa Bay Rays. At Tropicana Field, where they had won just two of their previous 19 games.

It was a bit of a statement they made in the opener of this huge series.

Hey, so ESPN was wrong about the Orioles, but so were a lot of people. No one could have predicted this. Some might have thought they maybe make a run for 70 wins. But no one thought they were ready to be a .500 club, much less a playoff team.

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O's game blog: Hall gets the call as a big series begins

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The Orioles have arrived in Tampa/St. Pete for their huge weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Tonight, it’s the first of three games between the AL East rivals who are competing for one of three American League wild card playoff spots.

The Orioles (58-53) and Tampa Bay (58-52) are tied 8-8 in the season series and the winner of this series will win the season series and that is big for a potential future standings tiebreaker. The Orioles begin play tonight 2.5 games behind Toronto for the first wild card, two back of Seattle for the second and ½ game behind the Rays for the third.

The Orioles had an identical record as the Rays heading into last night’s games. And while Tampa Bay was off, the Birds lost 4-3 at Boston to fall back out of their standings tie. But a win tonight and they move ahead of the Rays.

Tampa Bay has won four of seven games but over longer stretches is 5-7 in 12 games and 13-12 in its last 25. The Rays are 7-11 in the second half and 27-31 since June 4. The Rays are 33-21 at home and 25-21 versus AL East teams.

In the first series of the year, the Orioles lost three straight at Tropicana Field by scores of 2-1, 5-3 and 8-0. At that point, the Orioles were 3-27 in the last 30 games against Tampa Bay. But they are 8-5 versus the Rays since then and beat them three out of four when the two teams played in Baltimore in late July. But the Orioles are 1-5 this road against the Rays on the road. The Orioles last won a series at the Trop since June 23-25, 2017.

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Some of the newly acquired pitchers get off to good starts for O's farm

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Most of the six new pitchers the Orioles acquired in the recent trades of Trey Mancini to Houston and Jorge López to Minnesota have gotten off to good starts for their new organization.

The Orioles added three top 30 prospects.

For Mancini they got right-hander Seth Johnson from Tampa Bay. He underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 3, so the Orioles won’t see him for a while, but MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the club's No. 8 prospect. Baseball America has him at No. 10. After Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, Johnson is now the Orioles' third highest-rated pitcher.

The O’s also added 23-year-old right-hander Chayce McDermott from Houston in that deal. He now ranks as Baltimore’s No. 12 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and No. 17 in Baseball America's estimation. In two games with the Orioles' high Single-A Aberdeen team, he has allowed two runs and three hits in five innings, going 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA with one walk to 10 strikeouts.

In the deal with Minnesota, the O’s added lefty Cade Povich, also pitching at Aberdeen. In his first start for his new organization, he threw six scoreless innings on one hit last Saturday. MLBPipeline.com ranks Povich as the O’s No. 26 prospect, while Baseball America puts him at No. 29.

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O's game blog: O's make it to Fenway Park for one-night only appearance

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The Orioles will be in three cities in three days and their tour is on day two today. They got rained out at home last night in the scheduled third game of their series with Toronto. Their chance at their first sweep of the Blue Jays since Aug. 27-29, 2018 was washed away by the raindrops.

Tonight the Orioles play one game versus the Red Sox in Boston. Friday they open a series in St. Petersburg, Fla. against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Orioles have made up some serious ground on several teams since the All-Star break when they were 46-46. They have gone 12-6 since to get to 58-52 and the Orioles are now tied with Tampa Bay for the third AL wild card spot. They trail Toronto by two games for the first spot and Seattle by 1.5 games for the second. The Rays, Jays and Mariners are all off tonight. 

At the break, the O’s record was tied for ninth-best in the American League. Now they are tied for the fifth-best AL record. At the All-Star game, they were five games behind Tampa Bay, which was then leading for WC-1, 4.5 behind Seattle for WC-2 and 3.5 games back of Toronto for WC-3. Not only that but both Boston (48-45) and Cleveland (46-44) were ahead of them in the standings for those spots.

Tonight, they play the one game at Fenway Park before moving onto a big weekend series against the Rays. The Orioles could get to seven games over .500 with a win and that would be their first time seven games over since May 22, 2017.

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The 2022 O's are crafting a future memorable season

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Longtime Orioles fans could probably cite some special and memorable seasons in team history. Some loved the 1989 Why Not Orioles. Some fondly remember the 2012 club that got the team back in the playoffs after a 14-year absence. No doubt the years 1966, 1970 and 1983 are special. Those, of course, were seasons ending with World Series championships.

I think that years from now when some fans look back, they might fondly discuss this 2022 season. And it probably won’t matter whether this team goes on to make the playoffs or not. This team will have a special place in the hearts of O’s fans for years, I would guess.

Surprise teams and underdogs can be special, and these Orioles qualify as both. After a 110-loss 2021, some fans' expectations were low coming into this year. “Just don’t lose 100 games again,” was one thought. “Just be more competitive,” was another.

But this team started playing competitive ball almost from the first pitch of the year. And the winning started around May 1 and hasn’t stopped. They came up with comeback wins and thrilling walk-off wins. They started to beat good American League East teams. Heck, they were beating good teams inside and outside of the division.

They lost John Means and still won. Recently they traded Trey Mancini and Jorge López and are still winning.

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O's game blog: Orioles have a chance for a sweep in series finale

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Now that they have secured a series victory over Toronto – their first since July 5-7, 2019 – the Orioles go for a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays tonight at Oriole Park. They beat Toronto 7-4 on Monday and 6-5 last night on Rougned Odor’s two-run homer in the last of the eighth.

It is another game impacted by rain, however, and tonight's game will start in a rain delay at Oriole Park.

Tuesday's victory gave the Orioles their 25th comeback win of the year. They had trailed 5-3 after the sixth inning but got within a run on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI double in the seventh, and moved ahead on Odor’s 11th homer, a 415-foot shot to right field off a Yimi Garcia changeup. The Orioles improved to 7-44 when trailing after seven innings, and Toronto is now 51-3 when leading after seven.

The Orioles had lost 10 and tied three series against Toronto since that last series win. Last year, Baltimore went 5-14 versus the Blue Jays and now they are 4-2.

The Orioles continue to play improved baseball against American League East teams. They are 6-2 in their last eight division games and are 14-10 in the last 24. For the year they are 22-24 in division games, going 15-10 at home.

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He's No. 1: Baseball America's JJ Cooper on Gunnar Henderson

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Baseball America has been putting out its top 100 prospects list since 1990, and only once previously has an organization had two different players ranked No. 1 in back-to-back years in their January winter rankings. Now the Orioles have a chance to match that.

Last January, Adley Rutschman was No. 1 and this week infielder Gunnar Henderson moved to No. 1 in the latest Baseball America top 100 update. They are now updating their January release once a month in season. If Henderson stays No. 1 in the January rating this coming winter, the Orioles would match the Cardinals, who had J.D. Drew No. 1 in 1999 and Rick Ankiel No. 1 in 2000.

By the way, Rutschman and Henderson were Mike Elias’ first two draft picks after taking over as Orioles executive vice president and general manager.

Henderson has had a remarkable year on the Baltimore farm starting at Double-A Bowie and moving to Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He has hit for the cycle this year and played in the All-Star Futures Game. He is just 21 years old.

When Rutschman reached 130 big league at-bats, he “graduated” from the top 100 list and thus was removed. For a time, Tigers outfielder Riley Greene moved to No. 1, and then in late July, Blue Jays catcher Gabriel Moreno was No. 1. But now Henderson has passed him for the top spot, as Moreno dropped to third with outfielder Jackson Chourio of the Brewers second.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win over Toronto

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After winning 7-4 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night, the Orioles now have two chances to achieve something they have not since 2019. That is, a win a series against Toronto.

The Orioles (57-52) split a four-game series 2-2 at Toronto in June, but they have not won a series versus the Blue Jays since taking two of three at Toronto July 5-7. 2019. Since then, through the earlier series at Rogers Centre, the Orioles have lost 10 and tied three series against Toronto. So the Blue Jays are 10-0-3 the last 13 series. The Orioles went 12-31 over those 13 series.

But their win last night gives them a 3-2 record over Toronto this season, after going 5-14 versus the Blue Jays in 2021. The Orioles are 21-24 against the American League East, winning five of their last seven, nine of 15 and 13 of their past 23 division games this year.

The Orioles got closer to a playoff spot when Seattle lost to the Yankees Monday. The Birds begin play tonight one game behind Seattle for the third AL wild card, 1.5 games back of Tampa Bay for wild card two and three games back of Toronto, which holds AL wild card one right now.

The Orioles are 50-38 since May 1, a winning percentage of .568. Over a full year that percentage would produce 92 wins.      

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Mental and physical resets have Kyle Bradish feeling better about his game

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When Orioles right-handed pitcher Kyle Bradish returned recently to the team, he had almost become a new pitcher. The results are certainly better than when we had previously seen him in the big leagues.

Before going on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, Bradish’s ERA ballooned to 7.38. This was the same guy that on May 10 at St. Louis allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

But before his IL stint in his last two starts June 13 and 18, he allowed 11 runs and 20 hits over 8 2/3 innings while batters hit .465 against him with an OPS of 1.140 in those two games. Then in his first two starts back active on the roster, at Cincinnati and Texas on the road trip, he gave up three runs and eight hits over 10 innings while batters hit .216/ with a .617 OPS against him.

Big difference. Bradish makes his third start since coming off the IL tonight at home versus Toronto.

Bradish said he made both physical and mental changes during his time away from the Orioles. The mental reset and getting back to the farm was helpful, and so was his work with the O’s pitching coaches on his breaking pitches. They felt the shape of his slider and curveball were becoming too similar, and he needed to fix that.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles faces Toronto in series opener

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Now two games out of both the second and third American League wild card spots, and four games behind the No. 1 spot held by Toronto, the Orioles begin a three-game series with the Blue Jays tonight at Camden Yards.

It’s a big series between two teams that did not play once during the season’s first 61 games, and then split four games in mid-June at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The Orioles lost 11-1 in the series opener, won the second game 6-5, lost 7-6 in 10 and then blasted former Oriole Kevin Gausman 10-2 in the fourth game of that series. Gausman allowed seven runs (five earned) over 2 1/3 innings.

The Orioles (56-52) and Blue Jays (60-48) will play six times in the next 10 games and 15 in the last 54 of the O’s regular season. They will meet nine times in the last 28 games starting Sept. 5.

The Orioles have not had a lot of success in recent seasons against Toronto. They are 17-35 since the 2019 season and Toronto is unbeaten in its last 13 series versus Baltimore. When the O’s went 2-2 in Canada last month it was their first series win or split of three games or more against that team since Aug. 1-4, 2019.

The Orioles are 6-6-1 in series this season against the AL East after going 3-19-2 last year. They are 20-24 versus AL East teams and 13-10 at home against the division. The Orioles are 4-2 their last six division games this season and 8-6 in the last 14.

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Félix Bautista was bringing the heat in first save chance since the López trade

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When he took the mound at Camden Yards on Friday night in the ninth, right-hander Félix Bautista was trying to hold the Orioles' 1-0 lead over Pittsburgh and pick up his fourth career save. He would get it done and close out the win.

But even though it wasn’t a clean save – he gave up a single and walk with one out – it was a devastating show of power pitching.

Bautista, who ranks among the hardest throwers in the majors, threw 17 fastballs that night, and all 17 were 100.0 mph or more. He threw five pitches 101 mph or more and one that topped at 102 mph. The 17 pitches at 100 or more were the most by an O’s pitcher in a single game in the Statcast era (since 2015). And Bautista became the second reliever in the majors (third occurrence) with that many 100.0+ mph pitches in a game this season, joining Jordan Hicks of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The man they call “The Mountain” has been so big for the Orioles bullpen this season. He pitched at three levels on the O’s farm last year, starting at high Single-A Aberdeen, moving later to Double-A Bowie and ending with Triple-A Norfolk. He has pitched just 28 2/3 career innings on the farm above the high-A level.

And in the minors he struggled with his control, averaging 5.1 walks per nine innings with 10.4 strikeouts. So how did he make such improvement in the bigs to walk just 3.0 per nine with 12.2 strikeouts in 2022? And now he is closing games. That’s amazing.

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O's game blog: Looking for a sweep against Pittsburgh

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With 1-0 and 6-3 wins over Pittsburgh this weekend, the Orioles have moved closer to a playoff spot and also are now a win away from a second consecutive three-game sweep. They’ll try to get that this afternoon in the series finale.

The Orioles beat the Bucs 1-0 on a combined six-hitter Friday night as Dean Kremer allowed four hits over 6 1/3 innings on 83 pitches. They held Pittsburgh to six hits again on Saturday in the win. The No. 9 spot in the Orioles batting order, between Brett Phillips and Ryan McKenna, combined for two doubles, a sac bunt and three RBIs.

The Orioles (56-51) have won five in a row, their second-longest streak of the year behind the 10-game win streak right before the All-Star break. That streak took the O’s from nine games under .500 to one game over, and they have continued to build on that.

They begin play today one game out of both the second and third American League wild card spots. Tampa Bay is one percentage point ahead of Seattle for the second wild card spot.

.533 – Tampa Bay (57-50)
.532 – Seattle (58-51)
.523 – Orioles (56-51)

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