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

rodriguez debut in texas

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (0-0, 3.60 ERA) tonight makes his Oriole Park debut and his second career start as the Orioles' four-game series with the Oakland Athletics continues.

The Orioles (5-5) beat Oakland (2-8) by 5-1 on Monday to start this series as Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer in the first inning before Adley Rutschman and Austin Hays added solo shots. It was Rutschman's first time in the majors homering in back-to-back games.

The Orioles have been at .500 five times at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 and now 5-5. Oakland has lost five in a row and been outscored 42-10 in those games. In the last three games, opponents have outscored the A’s 27-1.

The Orioles offense has scored 50 runs through the first 10 games and posted a team batting line of .236/.325/.432/.757. They have produced six multi-home run games thus far, and scored five runs or more six times.

Rodriguez made his anticipated big league debut last Wednesday afternoon at Texas at Globe Life Field. He allowed two runs in the first inning, but nothing the rest of his outing. He went five innings and gave up four hits and two runs with one walk and five strikeouts, throwing 83 pitches, 53 for strikes.

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Gunnar Henderson works on a small adjustment to get his bat going

henderson swing home debut black

Gunnar Henderson, off to a .148 batting start in his first eight games of this season, has been making some small adjustments in his batting stance that he feels soon could produce the solid results he and the team expect from him.

In his 34 games after his call-up last year he batted .259 with a .788 OPS, producing an OPS+ of 123. Those numbers made him among the favorites and maybe the favorite to win the 2023 American League Rookie of the Year Award. 

“I feel like it’s still early for me because I was a little bit behind in spring (dealing with a minor wrist issue early in camp), not getting all the live at-bats I needed,” he said today. “I’m taking my walks and having really good pitch selection right now. Just some of them haven’t gone my way. Been working on some body posture in the cage. Past few games had some really good swings on the ball, reminding me of past swings I’ve had. Feeling the way I am right now, I feel it will come around.”

Henderson is 4-for-27 but has drawn a team-leading eight walks to go along with 14 strikeouts. He has one double, one homer and two RBIs. Only four players in the entire AL have drawn more than eight walks.

Believe it or not, Henderson is now drawing on the experience of another slow start, this one when he was promoted from Single-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen in June 2021. Back then he was just 1-for-31 (.032) in his first 11 games after moving up to Aberdeen. What he learned then: Don’t panic over that start and don’t try to constantly make changes to get his bat going.

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On farm, pitcher Justin Armbruester soaks up the data and is taking strides forward


He was not a high draft pick, but maybe Double-A Bowie right-hander Justin Armbruester, their Opening Day starter, was the perfect pick for the Orioles organization and its pitching development program.

He entered an organization that under the Mike Elias front office has become heavily data and technology driven. In Armbruester, they added a cerebral pitcher who loves to soak up the data and analytics. He seems to want to use every advantage and resource available to him that he can get his hands on. Beyond the technology the Orioles provide him, he even keeps his own notebooks on opponent hitters and even makes notes on ballpark factors everywhere he goes.

Last year we started to see where a pitcher driven to get better, started to indeed do just that. Between High Single-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie, he went 6-2 with a 3.85 ERA over 117 innings. He walked 34, fanned 126, posted a 1.07 WHIP and opponent batters hit just .213 off him.

That was a solid year that landed him at the No. 20 spot on the latest Baseball America O’s top 30 prospects list. He is still sort of flying under the radar a bit, but less than he was. On Opening Night for Bowie at Hartford last Thursday, he threw five scoreless innings on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

Then no doubt he went back to work in his between starts bullpen sessions, using everything around him to try and keep getting better.

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O's game blog: The series opener against Oakland

gibson od fenway

After losing two of three over the weekend to the New York Yankees, the Orioles' (4-5) homestand continues tonight at Oriole Park. They begin a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics (2-7), who have lost four in a row and got swept three straight by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Oakland lost 9-5 Friday and by identical 11-0 scores the last two days. The A’s were outscored 31-5 in that series and have been outscored 37-9 the past four games. A’s pitching has already allowed 11 runs or more four times this season.

And that pitching staff has been the worst of all 30 teams in the majors with a team ERA of 7.54. Oakland starting pitchers to this point are 0-5 with a 10.04 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and a .320 batting average against. They have allowed 12 homers in 40 1/3 innings. That is easily the worst rotation ERA in the major leagues, with Detroit the next worst at 7.49.

In the Tampa Bay series, the A’s starters covered a combined 12 innings, allowing 18 hits and 20 runs. On Saturday they needed their backup catcher to pitch the eighth inning of that loss.

The Oakland offense has had its share of issues as well. As a team, they are batting .192/.265/.320/.585 and scoring just 27 runs so far. They rank between 13th and 15th in the American League in each of those four categories.

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Mullins on his offense and Rutschman on Gibson on mound and as leader

Cedric Mullins smile white

For Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, after a solid start to his year batting against left-handed pitching, he sees it as actually a good thing that the Orioles face three left-handers to start their series against Oakland.

Mullins got his season off to a great start, going 5-for-13 with two homers and seven RBIs in the first series at Boston. But he is 2-for-24 in the six games since that series. However, he is also 4-for-11 with a homer and six RBIs versus lefties this year after struggling against southpaws in 2022.

So bring on the lefties as the Oakland series begins.

“Yeah, I’d say so (nice to see lefties),” he said this afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse. “You know, I feel like I’ve had pretty strong at-bats and just a matter of putting them altogether. I know it’s still early in that aspect, but feel confident where I am.

“Kind of in the middle (right now). I had a really strong start out in Boston. In terms of strikeouts, I feel like those have been manageable. Had a few walks as well, so feel like I am controlling the zone really well. Just a mater of finding the grass and keep focusing on hitting the ball hard.”

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New Oriole Danny Coulombe settles in nicely in 'pen, plus other O's notes

Danny Coulombe

The newest addition to the Orioles is continuing to make a nice first impression, even though he has pitched in four games now. Lefty Danny Coulombe, 33, has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless thus far on just one hit with no walks, four strikeouts and an .083 batting average against.

He got the first two outs of the seventh inning Sunday and then allowed a single. Logan Gillaspie then replaced him and stranded the inherited runner. Coulombe was acquired by the club very late in spring training, on March 27, from Minnesota for cash considerations.

“Everybody has been great so far, really welcoming. It’s a really young team, but really talented. Enjoying it so far,” Coulombe said recently about fitting in well so far as an Oriole.

“There is so much talent in this clubhouse and on the pitching side it’s been fun to see how these guys work. These pitchers have an idea of what they want to do. That is fun to see. It’s still early and I’m still trying to get to know people but it’s been fun so far,” he said.

Coulombe said he had some nerves going for his first outing with the his new club during the second game of the season at Boston.

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O's game blog: The series finale against New York

wells gray

The Orioles (4-4) host the New York Yankees (5-3) today in the third and deciding game of this series before welcoming Oakland to town on Monday to start a four-game series as this homestand continues.

The Orioles posted a 7-6 win on Opening Day in Baltimore on Friday, but New York held the Orioles to just four singles last night as they went 4-for-30 in a 4-1 loss. The Orioles went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base in their lowest scoring game of the year.

The Orioles have scored five runs or more five times this season, but also already have three games where they have been held to four hits or less. Baltimore batters hit 11 homers in the season’s first five games, but have no homers over their last three games.

Right-hander Tyler Wells (0-0, 0.00) will make his second appearance and first start of the year. He came on in emergency relief Monday night at Texas after Kyle Bradish left that game injured. Wells threw five no-hit innings from the fourth through eighth innings at Globe Life Field. He needed just 47 pitches, 33 for strikes, to get the 15 outs.

Wells threw 16 four-seam fastballs versus the Rangers, which averaged 93.5 mph and topped at 94.7. He added 14 cutters with an average 89.0 mph velocity. He also threw nine changeups, five curveballs and three sliders.

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Gillaspie on time with O's, Stowers tries to stay ready and Tides put up three touchdowns

Gillaspie and Rutschman

For a pitcher that once was trying to make it to the majors while starting out in independent league baseball, making an Opening Day roster was special. And there was O's bullpen right-hander Logan Gillaspie, 25, running down the orange carpet with the rest of the Orioles on Friday afternoon.

He made his MLB debut last May 17 with two scoreless innings against the Yankees, and now has an ERA of 3.26 in 19 1/3 big league innings with the Orioles over the last two seasons.

Gillaspie’s pro career began in 2017 in independent league baseball, where he actually spent time as both a pitcher and position player.

His record from the 2017 season shows 22 games on the mound for three different teams, plus a few games at first base and catcher, and even one at shortstop. He went 4-for-23 as a hitter.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed him in 2018 but released him in 2019. The Orioles signed him on June 9, 2021, and he made his big league debut on the mound at Camden Yards last May. And he was a surprise addition to the bullpen on Opening Day this year.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win against the New York Yankees

mateo hugs urias white

The Orioles, now 2-0 on Opening Days in the 2023 season and 3-0 in series-opening games, will host the New York Yankees tonight. It’s the first night game of the year in Baltimore and the second game of a three-game series.

The Orioles improved to 46-24 all-time in home openers and 22-10 in Oriole Park openers with Friday’s 7-6 win in front of a sellout crowd of 45,017. Six different Orioles drove in runs as they had 10 hits. Through seven games the team is batting .259/.350/.469/.819, and they’ve hit 17 doubles and 11 home runs and scored 41 runs. The Orioles have scored five or more in five of their seven games and scored seven runs or more four times.

Shortstop Jorge Mateo, being rested tonight with a sore ankle, tallied his team-high third multi-hit performance of the season on Friday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored. In 2022, he didn’t record his first multi-hit game until the team’s ninth game and didn’t register his third multi-hit performance until his 25th game of the season.

Ramón Urías picked up his second multi-hit game (he also had multiple hits on March 30 at Boston). He produced his fifth career game with two doubles, and his first since July 16, 2022 at Tampa Bay.

First sacker Ryan Mountcastle swiped his first bag of the season in the seventh inning. That marked his first stolen base since July 8, 2022 against the Los Angeles Angels. Mountcastle, who is batting .276/.333/.586/.920, has hit safely in six of the first seven games to start the new year.

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On Friday at Camden Yards, Bryan Baker was bringing the heat and the emotion

baker pitch white

Oftentimes judging a reliever’s performance off his ERA, especially in a small sample, is not a solid path to take in evaluating that pitcher. Take O’s right-hander Bryan Baker.

His ERA is 5.79 in four games to start the new season. But his batting average against is .200 and opponent batters have an OPS of just .544 versus Baker. 

On Opening Day in Boston he gave up three runs over two-thirds of an inning. In three games since then, he has thrown four scoreless innings on one hit with no walks and four strikeouts.

Thanks to the help of third sacker Ramón Urías, who turned a nifty 5-3 double play, and his own strikeout of Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a 96 mph heater in the eighth inning here yesterday, he got three huge outs in the O’s 7-6 win over the New York Yankees.

The Orioles improved to 4-3 on the year, and to 46-24 all-time in home openers.

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O's get Opening Day win and the Baltimore offense is humming through seven games

mateo throws white

Opening Day in Baltimore could not have gone too much better. A sellout crowd of 45,017 got to see the Orioles beat the New York Yankees in comeback fashion. They let a 4-0 lead getaway, but overcame a 5-4 deficit to win 7-6 and improve to 4-3.

For already the third time this year, they have moved one game over .500.

The Orioles, after winning 83 games last season, have not backed down from their own high preseason expectations. They expect to contend this year for their first postseason berth since the 2016 season.

“We expect to win every game when we show up to the field. It doesn’t matter who we are playing on the other side. You know we played everybody tough last year. We have the Yankees today and we expect to win this game and win this series, “ Austin Hays said matter of factly before the home opener.

A theme in the O’s clubhouse before the game was players talking about the buzz around Baltimore amongst the O’s fanbase. Fans are more excited about this team than in years. Hays said he expected to see the big crowd bring the energy as the fans did and that such support can be big for this team this year.

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O's game blog: Opening Day in Baltimore against the New York Yankees

camden yards warehouse

After playing series in Boston and Texas, the Orioles will finally reunite with their home fans today for Opening Day in Baltimore. The Orioles (3-3) host the New York Yankees (4-2) to start a three-game series and seven-game homestand.

The Orioles have gone 45-24 in home openers in club history, including 21-10 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Birds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers last year, 2-0, to snap a three-season losing streak in home openers since 2019. The Orioles are 4-4 when their home opener is against the Yankees. The last time they played New York on this day was 2020 – a 9-3 Yankees win. They also won home openers versus New York in 1964, 1972, 2002 and 2009.  

The Orioles own a 1,199-1,222-2 (.495) all-time record in 2,423 games at Oriole Park since 1992. The Birds have mashed 3,012 home runs at Oriole Park since the ballpark opened, including 55 long balls that have landed on the iconic Eutaw Street promenade that separates the ballpark and the historic B&O Warehouse.

The Orioles went 1-2 at Boston and 2-1 at Texas. Wednesday’s 5-2 loss at Texas snapped Baltimore’s eight-game win streak against that club.

The O's opened the 2023 season by hitting multiple home runs in each of their first five games, tied for the third-longest streak to start a season by a team since at least 1901, and tied with the 1994 Orioles for the longest streak in club history. Baltimore was the only MLB team to start the ‘23 campaign with five consecutive multi-homer games. This marked the fifth time in club history that the Orioles homered in each of their first five games to start a season, and first since 2012.

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Feeling renewed fan excitement, the players look forward to the orange carpet today

Oriole Park generic

Among the first challenge of the day for the Orioles, even before they try to beat the New York Yankees, is to navigate that long run down the orange carpet. Every year O’s players joke about not tripping on that jog in. But in reality, it’s just a very special moment for each and every player.

They bask in the cheers of over 40,000 fans and soak it in on another Opening Day in Baltimore. Today Ryan Mountcastle is taking in his third opener in Baltimore.

“It’s crazy. I remember last year doing it," he said. "It’s definitely something that is a once in a lifetime type thing. It’s really cool. Gonna be happy to experience that and all these young guys too. Should be pretty exciting." 

Outfielder Austin Hays, who has run down a few orange carpets, was asked if he has any advice for the young players going through their first Opening Days in Baltimore.

“Just enjoy every second of it,” he said. “Watch your step on that carpet, you can get caught up on it, it has happened in the past. So, watch your step and enjoy every second of it. It really is something special here in Baltimore. Been able to open up a couple of parks now and there is nothing like Camden Yards and the orange carpet is really cool.”

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Cedric Mullins on improved hitting vs. lefty pitching, plus a big night on the farm

Mullins Santander celebrate gray

When it comes to facing left-handed pitchers, O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins, no longer a switch-hitter, has had success in the past batting left-on-left.

But the hits were not coming to him very often against lefty pitchers last year, when he hit .209/.265/.313/.578 against left-handers. That was very different from his solid numbers of 2021, when he produced a .277 batting average and .788 OPS left-on-left.

So Mullins’ winter focus was on getting back to stats like those in this 2023 season.

“Just really kind of dug deep into how some of my at-bats went last year,” he said this week at Globe Life Field. “Kind of getting a sense of what guys were trying to do to me and kind of make adjustments from there. Tried to simulate as much as I possibly could (this winter).”

The deep dive included a closer look at how those southpaws were getting him out.

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In Texas, Wells saved the day, Rodriguez arrived and O's pitching took a turn for the better

rodriguez debut in texas

ARLINGTON, Texas – During a series when they lost a pitcher to injury, the Orioles added a rookie flamethrower from the farm and restored some order on the mound.

It was a nice step forward for a pitching staff that had given up 27 runs at Fenway Park and had a staff ERA of 8.42 after the season’s first three games. The O’s staff ERA was just 2.42 in the Texas series. There, against a Rangers team that had scored 29 runs with a club OPS of .966 in sweeping the Phillies, the O’s allowed just seven runs, 17 hits and just three walks to 24 strikeouts.

They threw a one-hitter on just 108 pitches here Monday night. That win was big for the Orioles as the bullpen stepped up, especially Tyler Wells, after Kyle Bradish got hurt. They shut down the Rangers and put back-to-back losses in Boston in the rear-view mirror. Kyle Gibson followed that with an outstanding outing, and then Grayson Rodriguez had a solid big league debut yesterday at Globe Life Field.

Even after the Bradish injury, suddenly the pitching is showing more promise. And Bradish, who manager Brandon Hyde said had great stuff before he took a liner off his foot Monday night, could be returning as soon as his stint on the injured list is up.

The bullpen was much better here, even if Austin Voth did allow three runs yesterday after inheriting a 2-2 tie in the Rangers' 5-2 win.

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Grayson Rodriguez makes solid debut, but Texas wins to avoid the sweep (updated)


ARLINGTON, Texas – With a large rooting section from his hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, in the stands today, Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez made a strong big league debut in his home state. But it didn’t start out great for him. 

After allowing two runs and giving up some loud contact in the Rangers' first inning, he settled in nicely and at times looked very much like what he is: one of baseball’s best pitching prospects. And the pitcher who has gone 25-9 with a 2.49 ERA in 70 games on the Baltimore farm. The pitcher ranked No. 6 in the Baseball America top 100 and No. 7 by MLBPipeline.com.

He struggled as games got deeper in spring training, but not today.

Texas went 2-for-5 against him in its two-run first inning, then just 2-for-14 from the second through the fifth inning.

Right-hander Austin Voth replaced him to start the sixth in a 2-2 tie. But Texas third baseman Josh Jung took him to the opposite field for a two-run shot to right. That blast was enough for the Rangers to go on to win this one 5-2 as the Orioles failed to sweep the series.

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O's game blog: Grayson Rodriguez makes his MLB debut in the series finale at Texas

mountcastle homers in texas

ARLINGTON, Texas – O’s rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the sport by Baseball America and No. 7 via MLBPipeline.com, today makes his long-anticipated major league debut. Rodriguez will face two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom as the Orioles and Texas Rangers conclude a three-game series at Globe Life Field.

After wins of 2-0 and 7-2, the O’s can sweep this series today and beat Texas for the ninth straight time, going back to last year. Baltimore pitching has thrown 18 innings this series, allowing just eight hits and two runs with two walks and 15 strikeouts.

The Orioles (3-2) begin play today tied with the New York Yankees for second in the American League East, two games behind unbeaten and division-leading Tampa Bay at 5-0. Boston and Toronto are 2-3.

Rodriguez had some struggles in spring training and posted a 7.04 ERA over 15 1/3 innings. It looked like he would break north with the team in the Opening Day rotation to start the year, but instead he was optioned to the minors and made one start for Triple-A Norfolk. But due to the injury to Kyle Bradish, who was placed on the injured list today, here he is already, ready to debut, and in his home state of Texas.

He made his Triple-A season debut in Norfolk’s season opener at Durham last Friday night, allowing three runs (two earned) over four innings. He was scheduled to pitch tomorrow for the Tides at home, but now that plan has changed. Rodriguez will be pitching on normal rest today.

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Home opener postponed and Rutschman on catching Rodriguez today

Adley Rutschman orange catching gear

ARLINGTON, Tex. – Before we get to today's game, the Orioles annouced before game time today that their scheduled home opener tomorrow with the New York Yankees has been postponed until Friday at 3:05 p.m.

An Orioles tweet said: "After consultation with MLB, tomorrow's home opener at Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been postponed due to the forecast of severe inclement weather."

Meanwhile, there is, no doubt, a buzz around the Orioles today on the occasion of Grayson Rodriguez’s major league debut. As some of the gates opened earlier at Globe Life Field, some friends from his high school days in Nagodoches, Texas were already in the stands. Several O’s players discussed how excited they are to see one of baseball’s top prospects take the mound.

Manager Brandon Hyde said today he is confident that Kyle Bradish will be back when his stint on the injured list is up. So is this a potential one-off for Rodriguez today, or does he stay in the rotation?

“That’s the one thing we are excited about, is that we have depth and we have talent,” said Hyde. “The one thing that wins in this league is depth. We’re going to see how it goes. You’re not going to break with five starters and have those five starters pitch all year. Things happen. We didn’t expect Kyle Bradish to get hit on the foot. He had great stuff the other night. We’re just going to kind of watch a little bit. See how the next week and a half, two weeks go and go from there.

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Kyle Gibson keeps the roll going on the mound and O's can sweep today

Kyle Gibson

ARLINGTON, Tex. – Sometimes in baseball it is said that momentum can be hard for a team to build because it is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. Meaning someone can shut you down and beat you. In the case of the Orioles the next day’s starter built on what happened the previous day in a twist on the phrase.

When asked about his strong seven-inning start last night as the Orioles beat Texas 7-2, right-hander Kyle Gibson first spent quite some time talking about the job Tyler Wells did the night before when Kyle Bradish got hurt. The Orioles were still marveling yesterday at Wells’ performance to bolster the pitching staff Monday night in the series-opening 2-0 win.

“I don’t think we can say enough about what Tyler Wells did for this team (Monday) night,” said Gibson. “That set us up for me not needing to go seven innings tonight. I was thankful I was able to do it, but what a job by him. When I found out he was going in, they asked me if I could throw (yesterday) and that’s a no brainer. If Wellsy can step up and do that I can take my turn the next day. Anytime a starter can get to the seventh, I think it’s big for the bullpen. I told Hyder I could go another one and try to save one more inning, but he said they were fresh enough down there and handed the ball off.”

The Orioles realized what Wells did Monday was pretty special in how he stepped up and Gibson said good teams need such things.

“It’s necessary, right,” he said. “There is something on the line behind the scenes like every time a guy is on the mound. That put him in a tough spot - he is not staying on routine, mentally he is not locked in when Hyder asked him that. But it shows a lot about his routine and how he stays prepared. He had done a really good job of staying prepared and ready. I think that is what this team is all about – we’ve got a lot of young guys that have really good heads on their shoulders and understand that if they start the game on the bench, they are one play away from being out there. Hats off to him. That gave us a lot of momentum going into today.”

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With Grayson Rodriguez expected to debut tomorrow, O's beat Texas 7-2 tonight (updated)


ARLINGTON, Texas – As news surfaced before first pitch tonight that rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez was expected to make his major league debut on Wednesday afternoon for the Orioles, the club prepared to take the field against Texas. They were looking for a series win and to follow up last night’s uplifting shutout victory over the Rangers.

And they got the win and made it look rather easy, beating Texas 7-2 for their first 2023 win that did not come by either one or two runs. The Orioles improved to 3-2 tonight and Texas falls to 3-2. After sweeping defending National League champion Philadelphia to start their year, the Rangers could get swept in this series by the Orioles.

Just before the game started, multiple outlets reported that the Orioles would call up Rodriguez to make his big league debut in tomorrow afternoon’s series finale.

Rodriguez, 23, the No. 6 prospect in the sport per Baseball America, would be facing Texas right-hander Jacob deGrom, a pitcher with a career 2.55 ERA and two Cy Young Awards. He would also be pitching in his home state for his debut. The O’s drafted him in Round 1 (No. 11 overall) in the 2018 draft out of a high school in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Rodriguez was considered likely to break north with the Orioles in the Opening Day starting rotation, but late in camp was sent back to the minors after pitching to a spring ERA of 7.04 over 15 1/3 innings. He made his Triple-A season debut in Norfolk’s season opener at Durham last Friday night, allowing three runs (two earned) over four innings. He was scheduled to pitch this Thursday for the Tides at home, but now that plan has changed. Rodriguez would be pitching on normal rest tomorrow.

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