O's game blog: Grayson Rodriguez faces Toronto

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TORONTO – When the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the New York Yankees 4-2 on Thursday, they had dropped three of four games in that series and it was their first home series loss of the year. They were 5-0 in home series until playing New York. After Friday’s loss to the Orioles, should Baltimore win one of the next two this weekend, the Blue Jays will have another home series loss.

In addition to that, Toronto swept the Atlanta Braves last weekend and Pittsburgh the weekend before that. Toronto has won each of its last 10 series that began on a Friday, dating to last September. That is the longest such streak in team history, surpassing nine straight weekend series wins from August 2021 to May 2022.

But behind Kyle Gibson’s strong seven-inning outing and homers from Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Adam Frazier, the Orioles beat Toronto 6-2 last night to win another series-opening game.

The Birds are now 13-2 in series openers, including an 8-0 mark in road openers.

The Orioles went 9-10 against Toronto last year and 5-5 at Rogers Centre. They have lost the season series every year since 2018 to Toronto, going 30-57 in that span.

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Pregame notes from Toronto on Rodriguez's start, Givens, Frazier and more

Ramon Urias disappointed orange home

TORONTO – Saying he got to see a “master class” at work last night, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde hopes right-hander Grayson Rodriguez can pick up today where Kyle Gibson left off Friday. Gibson held Toronto to one run and five hits over seven innings as the Orioles beat the Blue Jays 6-2 to take the series opener.

Now they can win this series today or tomorrow and take another series from an American League East opponent. The Birds are 7-6 in division games this season and 5-2 in their past seven division games, winning series against Boston and Tampa Bay.

Rodriguez is next up to face a strong Toronto lineup, but in two of his last three starts he has allowed six and eight runs. In between those two was his only career start against an AL East team, and he held Tampa Bay to two runs over 5 2/3 innings. So the Orioles know the talent is in there for the rookie, who, despite a 6.57 ERA for the year, has four starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

“Well, he got a master class last night,” Hyde said today when asked about Rodriguez pitching today. “Sure he was paying attention to that. A really tough lineup to pitch to, and Grayson is going to go through this. All the lineups he is facing for the first time. He’s getting to know the league and he’s doing a good job preparing. Seen him prepare a lot these last few days for this start today, and he got a great example last night of a really competitive outing.

“Hoping Grayson works ahead in the count and tries to match what Kyle did yesterday.”

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Lineups for Game 2 against Toronto

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TORONTO - After yet another series-opening victory the Orioles today have a chance to win yet another series if they can beat the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 2 of the weekend set.

The Orioles have been hitting more homers lately, and added three more in Friday's 6-2 win as Ryan Mountcastle hit a three-run shot, Anthony Santander a solo and Adam Frazier a two-run home run. The Birds have hit 11 homers in the last five games. With 56 on the year as a team, they rank seventh in the American League in home runs.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-1, 6.57 ERA) will make his ninth start today, coming off an outing Monday when he allowed nine hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings versus the Los Angeles Angels. Over his past three starts, he has an ERA of 11.37, allowing six, two and eight runs. But on a positive note, the Orioles are 6-2 in his starts this year, a better winning percentage than the team's overall win percentage of .644, which is second-best in the major leagues.

The Orioles would be in first place today in five of the six divisions in Major League Baseball.

Right-hander Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.40 ERA) pitches for Toronto. Last season he finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting, going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA. But this year he has an ERA of 6.59 his past three starts and has allowed 1.800 WHIP with a 1.6 homer rate.

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Kyle Gibson was indeed a tone setter in Toronto series opener (plus other O's notes)

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TORONTO – They recently took two of three at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. And Friday as the Orioles started their first stretch of the year playing AL East opponents in back-to-back series, they got off to a winning start thanks to a pitcher that enjoys being a tone setter.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, at 35 the oldest player on the club, has said he enjoys the challenge of pitching series-opening games. He has now done this five times this season and the Orioles are 4-1 in those games and they were shut out the only time they didn’t win.

But what a tone that was set last night. Gibson went seven innings at Rogers Centre allowing one run as the Orioles won 6-2 to improve to 13-2 in series openers and 8-0 in such games on the road.

Said manager Brandon Hyde: “Gibson definitely pitched like an ace tonight, there’s no doubt. This is such a tough environment to pitch in. A really good hitter’s ballpark against a powerhouse offensive team. For Kyle to go seven innings against them in their home ballpark, that is next level.”

The Orioles pitching has been stepping up the last few weeks against some good teams with a staff ERA of 3.04 the past 14 games and a rotation ERA of 3.29 in that span, allowing three runs or less nine times. The Orioles now have 13 quality starts and have gone 12-1 in those games.

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Ryan Mountcastle and Kyle Gibson co-star as O's take Toronto series opener (updated)


TORONTO – Ryan Mountcastle likes to hit against Toronto Blue Jays pitching, he likes to hit at Rogers Centre and he likes to hit against Toronto lefty Yusei Kikuchi.

The Orioles turned that trifecta and a huge outing from right-hander Kyle Gibson into another series-opening win tonight as Mountcastle hit a three-run homer to trigger a 6-2 win over Toronto. It was a big victory for the Orioles (29-16) who began a six-game American League East road trip to Toronto and New York.

The Orioles won for the seventh time in 10 games. Over longer stretches, they have won 20 of 29 and 25 of 36 games. They are now 7-6 in AL East games and 13-2 in series-opening games. They are 8-0 when they open a series on the road.

Mountcastle again tormented Kikuchi. He mashed his three-run homer to center in the third inning, scoring Joey Ortiz, who singled, and Adley Rutschman, who walked. Mountcastle drilled a low and in 1-1 fastball that was thrown 96 mph and hit out at 106, and it went 419 feet for his 10th homer. It was a huge swing early in this game for Mountcastle, who now has 15 homers and 36 RBIs in 43 career games versus Toronto.

Last season, Mountcastle went 4-for-6 against Kikuchi with a double and three homers. That blast tonight made him 5-for-10 in his career against the Toronto lefty. It was Mountcastle’s 70th career big league homer and his sixth in 16 career games at Rogers Centre.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins with Toronto series opener

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TORONTO – The Orioles have played just one of their past six series against an American League East team, but starting tonight, for the first time this year they will play back-to-back series against division opponents. Tonight they play the first of a weekend series in Toronto at Rogers Centre. They'll then head to New York for a series next week at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles (28-16) are 3 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay for first in the AL East. They just completed a 6-4 homestand with Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles went 2-1 versus Tampa Bay, 2-1 against Pittsburgh and 2-2 versus the Angels during the homestand. They are now 9-7 in May and 10-3-1 in 14 series for the year.

The Orioles went 6-4 on their last road trip, which took them to Detroit, Kansas City and Atlanta. They are 13-8 on the road for the season and are 5-2 in road series. The Orioles are 12-2 in 2023 in series-opening games, going 7-0 in road series openers.

Serving as the designated hitter on Thursday, Adley Rutschman launched his seventh homer of the season with a 424-foot blast in the seventh inning to give the O’s a 5-4 lead. It marked his second career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later, joining a solo walk-off homer on April 13 vs. Oakland. Rutschman has hit safely in eight straight starts since May 9, slashing .357/.471/.750 (10-for-28) in those games.

O’s right fielder Anthony Santander tied the game at three with a two-run blast in the fifth inning, his seventh longball of the year. He has homered six times in his last 19 games after homering just once in his first 22. Santander is batting .339/.406/.645 (21-for-62) in May and has hit safely in 13 of 16 games, compared to .213/.280/.362 (20-for-94) in March/April.

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Hyde on the lineup, Mullins on AL East games as Toronto series begins

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TORONTO – No doubt tonight’s Orioles lineup is matchup-based as the club tonight faces Toronto lefty Yusei Kikuchi (5-0, 3.89 ERA) in the opener of a three-game series at Toronto. It starts an important six-game road trip for the Orioles against the Blue Jays and Yankees.

In facing Kikuchi, manager Brandon Hyde had definite reasons for putting Cedric Mullins back atop the order, even with a left-on-left matchup, and for inserting Joey Ortiz at third base.

Ortiz has played 30 big league innings at second base and 18 at shortstop, but none at third, where he will play tonight. He has made eight minor league starts at the hot corner: four in 2021, two in 2022 and two this year with Triple-A Norfolk.

“Well, he got a little bit of time there at Norfolk, played there in college, which is way different then playing there (now)," Hyde said. "I love his defense. I think he can play anywhere on the field, honestly, and he feels comfortable over there. Adding a right-handed bat against Kikuchi. And want (Adam) Frazier in there, and it’s kind of where it fit.”

The Orioles hit Kikuchi well last year, when he went 2-3 with an 8.10 ERA against them and allowed seven homers in 16 2/3 innings with an OPS against of 1.078. Cedric Mullins went 2-for-7 with a triple against Kikuchi in 2022, and has a batting average of .298 and a .953 OPS versus southpaws this year.

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Orioles lineup at Toronto

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TORONTO – The Orioles' latest road trip – an all American League East affair – begins tonight at Rogers Centre as the Toronto Blue Jays (25-19) host the Orioles (28-16) to start a three-game series.

The Orioles just split a four-game series with the Los Angles Angels while Toronto was losing three of four to the New York Yankees at home.

Tonight's lineup shows rookie Joey Ortiz making his first MLB start at third base. Ortiz has eight career starts on the farm at third base, two this year for Triple-A Norfolk, two last year and four in the 2021 season. 

Tampa Bay (32-13) is leading the division by 3 1/2 games over the Orioles, by 6 1/2 over Toronto and New York and by 7 1/2 over Boston.

The Orioles went 2-8 in Toronto in 2021 and 5-5 last year.

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Gibson on Grayson: "We all know how good he is"


He was never ranked as the No. 1 pitching prospect in all of minor league baseball, but he was a top 100 prospect for several years coming up through the Minnesota Twins' farm system. And right-hander Kyle Gibson, a first-round draft pick in 2009 and the oldest member of the Baltimore clubhouse at 35, provided a strong endorsement this week for his rotation mate, Grayson Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 23, currently is the No. 1 pitching prospect and ranked No. 4 overall in the top 100 by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLBPipeline.com.

But in his most recent outing Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, he gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is 2-1 with a 6.57 ERA on the year, allowing an opponent OPS of .923. At times opponents have hit his fastball hard.

But Gibson, known to be a great and supportive teammate, will let you know he sees big things ahead for Rodriguez. He said that while the right-hander looks for most consistency with his pitches, another thing he needs to do right now is block out the outside noise. Maybe easy to say and harder to do since Gibson is aware some fans are questioning whether Rodriguez is all he was said to be as a top prospect.

Not an easy place to be for a young pitcher who awaits a start tomorrow afternoon in Toronto against a quality lineup.

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O's game blog: Looking for another series victory

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As the Orioles look to win the finale of a four-game series this afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels, they send the pitcher to the mound that has been their most consistent starter this year. 

Right-hander Tyler Wells (3-1, 2.68 ERA) will make his ninth appearance and eighth start. He leads the majors in WHIP at 0.723, and his ERA ranks eighth-best among qualifying pitchers in the American League.

The Orioles are 6-2 in Wells' outings this year, and they won 2-0 on Saturday at Oriole Park versus Pittsburgh when he pitched a gem. Over seven scoreless innings he allowed one hit with two walks and eight strikeouts on 96 pitches. It was his second outing of seven scoreless this season – he also did that April 21 versus Detroit.

In his past two starts – against Atlanta and Pittsburgh – he has pitched 12 innings, allowing four hits and one run.

Wells has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his starts, throwing two quality starts. In four home games, he is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 0.8701 WHIP.

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Gunnar Henderson said Jackson Holliday's Aberdeen start shows he is "special hitter"


Not only is 19-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday tearing it up in his first full pro season, but he is closing in on being ranked the top prospect in baseball, something that the Orioles' Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson did before him.

In the latest and updated rankings, Holliday is now No. 3 in the top 100 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 6 via Baseball America.

This week he has shown the baseball world those rankings are well earned in his brief pro career.

He had a monster game on Tuesday night for High-A Aberdeen at Winston-Salem. In a game shortened by five innings due to rain he went 3-for-3 and drove in six runs. Last night he drove in five more. And he went 5-for-6, finally making an out on a liner to left in the ninth. He scored four runs and had five RBIs.

In the two games this week he has gone a remarkable 8-for-9 with two doubles, three triples, a homer, six runs scored and 11 RBIs. Amazing.

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O's game blog: Looking for another win over the Los Angeles Angels

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If the Orioles want to win another series, they are going to need two wins the next two days in this four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. They have split the first two, with Baltimore winning 7-3 last night.

The Orioles (27-15) remain 4.5 games behind Tampa Bay, which won again Tuesday night. Overall, the Orioles are 5-3 on this 10-game homestand; they are 14-7 in home games for the season and 9-2 in their last 11 games versus the Angels.

They have won five of the last seven games, 10 of 16, 18 of their past 26 and 23 of the last 33 games.

In two games this series, their offense has hit five homers, scoring 12 runs on 15 hits. But over the past nine games, the Orioles have scored 28 runs, or just 3.1 per game. Baltimore batters have hit five homers in two games and seven in the last four. The O’s have gone 10 straight games without a game of 10 hits or more.

But the O’s pitching has been solid over the past 11 games dating back to the start of their series at Atlanta, with a team ERA of 3.05 during that span. The O’s pitching staff has allowed 28 runs the past nine games (with a 2.70 team ERA), and 37 in the last 11. The rotation ERA is 3.56 in this 11-game stretch, with five quality starts. The Orioles are 10-1 this season when they get a quality start.

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Cionel Pérez is starting to regain his 2022 form in O's bullpen

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Lefty reliever Cionel Pérez, who posted a 1.40 ERA and 1.162 WHIP for the Orioles last year, believes his 2023 season is now back on track.

The latest example of that potential was his scoreless two innings in last night's win over the Los Angeles Angels. He fanned two over the seventh and eighth innings, retiring six batters on 19 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 3.78 in 19 games this year. 

“Felt really good. Think the results in this last month have been a lot better. Slowly but surely been feeling really good,” Pérez said today in the Baltimore clubhouse through team interpreter Brandon Quinones.

“Just been about consistent hard work,” he said. “It’s a long season, so you are bound to run into a couple of things here and there. But as long as we continue working hard, working with the pitching coaches to get things right, those things start to pay off little by little.”

His command has gotten better as the season has gone along. Over his last nine games, his ERA is 2.25. In April, he gave up an opponent batting average of .419 with an OPS of 1.068. In May, those numbers are .174/.469.

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The 'pen was good again in latest O's win, plus other notes


The Orioles got back on the horse with a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels last night. Back-to-back losses didn't turn into the club's second three-game losing streak of 2023.

And while starter Dean Kremer provided a solid outing, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 on 95 pitches, the bullpen put forth another scoreless effort.

Right-hander Bryan Baker did allow an inherited runner to score, but Baker, Cionel Pérez and Yennier Cano did not allow a run over 3 1/3 innings. Baker has allowed just one earned run his last 19 2/3 innings. Perez retired all six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings on just 19 pitches. He has allowed one earned run his past 6 2/3. Cano pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on eight pitches and now has thrown 20 2/3 scoreless innings for the season.

Over the past five games, the O's 'pen has an ERA of 0.60. Over the last nine games, the 'pen ERA is 1.34. For the year the bullpen ERA is 2.94 to rank second in MLB.

Batting ninth, Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo homer in the second inning. And then Ryan Mountcastle pinch-hit for him and hit a two-run shot in the sixth that he blasted 433 feet.

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O's game blog: Dean Kremer faces the Angels in Game 2 of series

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Last night, the Los Angeles Angels joined the Tampa Bay Rays as the second team this year to win a series-opening game against the Orioles. The Birds are now 12-2 in such games. The Angels 9-5 win was led by Shohei Ohtani, who gave up three home runs on the mound but hit a three-run homer at bat as part of a 4-for-5 game where he came up a double short of the cycle.

Adam Frazier and Anthony Santander hit two-run homers off Ohtani and Cedric Mullins added a solo shot. In two career starts against the Orioles, Ohtani has allowed nine runs in 12 innings and has given up six homers, including two each to Mullins and Santander. His five runs allowed last night tied his season high.

But the O’s starter, rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, allowed nine hits and eight runs over 3 1/3 innings. That is the most runs allowed by a Baltimore starting pitcher this year. Coming into this series, O’s starters had a 1.74 ERA their previous eight games, allowing two earned runs or less seven times.

The Orioles bullpen allowed just a single run over 5 2/3 innings last night. The Baltimore bullpen has a 1.48 ERA (five ER/30.1 IP) over the last eight games.

Best bullpen ERAs in MLB in 2023

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Cole Irvin on Triple-A time and his return to the Orioles

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After starting the year with the Orioles and giving up 15 runs and 17 hits over 12 2/3 innings his first three starts, lefty Cole Irvin, 29, found himself back in Triple-A. This was the first time he made more than one start in the minors since 2019.

With an 0-2 record, 10.66 ERA and 1.97 WHIP, the club decided that he needed a reboot. And he got it with the Norfolk Tides. He returns to the O’s roster today, and for now will work out of a bullpen role.

“Yeah, I got away from doing what I know how to do best, which is throwing sinkers down at the bottom of the zone and changeups. Got back to some good pitch mixes and got back to good locations. So, yeah, here to do a job and I’ll be prepared to do it,” Irvin said today of his stay in Norfolk.

He went 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five starts with the Tides. 

“It is part of the process,” he said. “When you have options, teams are going to use them when they have them. If you are not performing well that is just what happens in our game. It’s part of my job, part of our work, and my process is to keep my head down, keep working and get back. So, here we are.”

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Grayson's struggles, a player's take on the Bird Bath zone and minor league honors


The Orioles have faced Los Angeles Angels' pitcher Shohei Ohtani twice now and each time they hit three home runs off the pitcher who joins only Babe Ruth as players in MLB history with 500 or more pitcher strikeouts and 100 or more homers at-bat.

And on a night he would allow five runs in seven innings, Ohtani still got the win, thanks in part to his bat in the Angels’ 9-5 win in the series opener at Oriole Park.

Ohtani went 4-for-5 with a walk and his night included a triple, two singles and three-run homer that broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the fourth. His night did not include a double or he would have been the first pitcher in MLB history to hit for the cycle. As it was, he is the first to reach safely five times as a player that began the game as a pitcher since the Yankees’ Mel Stottlemyre on Sept. 26, 1964, at the Washington Senators.

Ohtani’s three-run shot was pivotal, and he crushed a first pitch curveball off Grayson Rodriguez that found the middle of the plate. That blast traveled 456 feet and marks his furthest-hit home run of the season, and his second hardest-hit ball of the season with an exit velocity of 114.6 mph. It tied for the longest home run hit at Oriole Park this year (Ryan Mountcastle hit one that far on April 11 versus Oakland) and is the longest by an opponent since the Yankees’ Aaron Judge crushed one 456 on July 24, 2022. Ohtani recorded his fourth multi-hit game this month and has driven in a run in three straight games and four of his last five; has 11 RBIs in 12 games this month.

Rodriguez, who gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings on May 4 at Kansas City, bounced back from that game to allow just two runs over 5 2/3 in his last start against Tampa Bay. But then last night he got hit hard and gave up eight runs and nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. In his past three outings, Rodriguez has allowed seven home runs in 12 2/3 innings.

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O's game blog: O's face Shohei Ohtani in series opener with LAA

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The Orioles, who are 10-3 in series this year, open a new one tonight at home versus the Los Angeles Angels. It is a four-game series that will wrap up a 10-game homestand.

The Orioles lost Sunday to Pittsburgh, but took two of three over the weekend and are 9-1 in their last 10 series since April 10, losing a set only to Atlanta.

The Orioles have reached the 40-game mark at 26-14 (.650) and begin play today four games behind Tampa Bay for the best record in the majors. They have the second-best record in the bigs and are playing at a 105-win pace.

Orioles pitching has allowed just 16 runs in the last seven games and 25 in the last nine, pitching to a 2.40 ERA in that span. O’s starting pitchers have a 2.26 ERA the past nine games, allowing two earned runs or fewer seven times, with five quality starts in that span.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-0, 5.08 ERA) has yet to throw six innings in the majors but came darn close Tuesday against Tampa Bay. He went 5 2/3, allowing seven hits and two runs in one of his best starts this season. He used his fastball just 31 percent of the time in that start, but it had some nice life, averaging 97.4 mph. He threw his changeup 26 percent and cutter 20 percent.

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The Orioles talk about matchup tonight with "an international superstar"

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The only other time right-hander Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has pitched against the Orioles was on Aug. 25, 2021, also at Camden Yards. He would not get a decision but he would allow four runs on five hits, including three homers, over five innings in a game the Orioles won 10-6.

The Orioles were on their way to 110 losses and that night ended a 19-game losing streak. Yep, times have changed around here.

But Cedric Mullins was the leadoff hitter in that game as he will be tonight. In 2021, he hit Ohtani’s first pitch of the game for a home run and went 2-for-3. Anthony Santander went 2-for-2 with a homer and DJ Stewart also homered on the first pitch that night.

“On our side, it was being aggressive,” Mullins remembered of the earlier game against Ohtani. “Being aggressive on the first pitch. Put a great swing on it and sent one out, got the guys on the board early. After that it’s about staying in your zone. He’s a great pitcher and it is one of those days where you are in for a battle and will try to come out on top.”

So yeah, Mullins said the Orioles, who this year are doing a good job working counts and taking pitches with solid plate discipline, may choose to be more aggressive against Ohtani, who is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 12.9 strikeout rate. His .143 opponent average against ranks first in the major leagues. He is fifth in strikeouts and WHIP.

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Yennier Cano: Spring training decision has helped produced big results


It was seemingly just another weekday spring training game. For the Orioles it was Game No. 6 of their spring schedule on March 2 in Lakeland, Fla. at Joker Marchant Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. Right-hander Yennier Cano came on to pitch in the last of the seventh, but the inning would unravel on him fast.

He gave up a triple, a single, two steals and then a double. His line from that day showed 2/3 of an inning allowing four hits and four runs and one homer. After two spring outings, Cano's ERA was 21.60.

We didn’t know it then, but that was last time this season – spring training or regular season – to this point that Cano allowed a run. Yep, March 2.

He made a decision that day that has paid off big time.

Throwing then from two distinct arm slots, one more over the top and another from a lower slot, he decided one would be better. He would scrap using the more over the top arm slot.

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