O's game blog: Orioles play their final regular-season road game of 2023

Kyle Gibson throws gray

After picking up a huge 2-1 win on Saturday, the Orioles today play the final game of this series and this road trip, and the final away game of their 2023 regular season

Cleveland won the first two games of the series by 5-2 and 9-8, before the Orioles picked up a win on Saturday that kept them 1 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East. The win reduced the O's magic number to win the division to five.

Anthony Santander had three hits and drove in both Baltimore runs while lefty John Means and two relievers teamed on a one-hitter. Means lost a no-hitter allowing a solo homer in the seventh and pitched 7 1/3 innings to improve to 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA. Yennier Cano and Cionel Pérez combined for the last five outs as Pérez picked up his third save.

The Orioles are 51-29 on the road and need a win today to tie the 1997 club for most wins and best win percentage in club history. That team went 52-29 on the road, playing .642 ball away from Baltimore. The 1980 O's won 50 road games, the 2023 club has 51 wins pending today's result and that 1997 club won 52.

The Orioles, who are 3-3 on this road trip, are 17-6-2 in road series this year.

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O's international program was big as club had four top prospects in the FCL


The Orioles had a strong showing recently when Baseball America presented its top 20 prospects for this season from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.

The Birds had four players represented in the back half of the list. And they are all international signings, another sign that the club’s international program is really starting to get going right now.

Three of the four players were signed for significant bonuses in January 2022 and those investments seem to be paying off.

The New York Yankees had the strongest showing in this ranking, with five players among the top 20 and four in the top 10. But no other team besides the O’s had as many as four players ranked.

Dominican outfielder Braylin Tavera, 18, was rated No. 12 on the FCL list. The club signed Tavera in January 2022 for $1.7 million, the second-highest bonus the Orioles have handed out under the Mike Elias regime.

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O's game blog: Game 3 of the series in Cleveland

Gunnar Henderson black jersey

Beginning today leading the AL East by 1.5 games over Tampa Bay with a record of 95-59, the Orioles have eight games remaining in the 2023 regular season and two in the series at Cleveland.

They started their road trip with a series win at Houston but have lost 5-2 and 9-8 in Cleveland. After Aaron Hicks' two-out, two-run double gave Baltimore an 8-7 lead in the top of the ninth Friday night, the Guardians produced a walkoff win in the last of the inning on David Fry's two-run double. He hit a first-pitch two-seamer off Yennier Cano with an exit velocity of 100.2 mph to win the game.

The Orioles have followed a four-game win streak with a three-game losing streak and have lost seven of their last 11 games. So, since Sept. 12, they are 4-7 while Tampa Bay is 5-5. The Rays have gone from three games back to 1 1/2 out.

The O's magic number to clinch the AL East is six as Saturday begins.

The Orioles have lost just three times this year in 36 games when scoring eight or more runs and Cleveland has beaten them twice in such instances. 

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Magic number went down as tension in Birdland rises

kremer white

With the understanding that not all fan reaction one gets on a radio talk show, on a blog, via social media and/or Twitter represents all of Birdland, it appears a good percentage of the fanbase has emotions surging after the O's lost in the last of the ninth at Cleveland Friday night.

Some are worried, some are nearly panicked and we see just about everything in between.

First let's do this fact check: The Orioles let a game get away last night but with Tampa Bay's loss to Toronto, they saw their magic number to win the division reduced to six.

Since Sept. 12 the Orioles are 4-7. But in the same time frame, the Rays are 5-5 and have cut the O's lead from three games to 1.5 in that span.

Just a week ago on that Friday night, the O's were getting questioned and criticized after losing two games to the Rays. They answered that by winning the next four by scoring 30 runs against Tampa Bay and Houston.

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O's game blog: Looking to get back in the win column in Cleveland

kremer @TB orange

The Orioles' 5-2 loss at Cleveland Thursday night was just their seventh in 26 games in road series openers this year. They try to get back to the winning tonight at Cleveland after scoring three runs in losing the past two days. 

The Orioles (95-58) begin play tonight leading the American League East by 1 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (94-60). Their magic number for a division clinch is seven.

Just 12 O's teams in club history have won 96 or more games, a feat they are chasing tonight. The last was the 2014 AL East-winning Orioles, who went 96-66.

While they've lost their last two games, the Orioles have won four of six, 12 of 19, 14 of 23 and 29 of the last 45 games.

Rookie Gunnar Henderson went 0-for-4 with a walk last night. He is sitting on 63 extra-base hits, which ranks 11th-best in the AL. It is also two behind Cal Ripken Jr.'s Orioles rookie record for EBHs of 65 in 1982. With 27 homers, Henderson needs one more to tie Ripken's 1982 mark with 28, which is second-most by a Baltimore rookie. Ryan Mountcastle holds that single-season record, with 33 in 2021.

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O's offense, even with recent inconsistencies, has had an overall strong year

Adley and Gunnar

It is not a great morning to speak well of the Orioles offense, I grant that.

They have scored a combined three runs the last two games. That was after scoring 30 runs in a four-game span. And that was after scoring six runs in a four-game span.

But overall, for the year, if you go by the most basic of stats – runs scored – the Orioles offense has had a good season. When you cut through all the analysis and stats, sometimes simplifying it this way cuts to the chase.

As the series at Cleveland began last night, the Orioles ranked fourth in the American League in runs per game at 5.11. They trailed only Texas (5.53), Tampa Bay (5.25) and Houston (5.16) atop the league.

So, pretty good.

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O's game blog: The final regular season road series begins at Cleveland

henderson gray

The Orioles begin their final regular season road series of 2023 tonight when they play the first of a four-game series against the Guardians. The Orioles went 2-1 against the Astros to begin the season’s final road trip.

The Orioles are 50-27 on the road and have become the third club in team history to win 50 or more road games. If the O’s go 2-2 this series, they will tie for the best road record ever by an O’s club and 3-1 or better will set a record.

Best road records, O’s history:

.649 – 2023 (50-27)

.642 – 1997 (52-29)

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O's international prospects: More than just Samuel Basallo making noise


During a season where the Orioles have the current top record in the American League and are headed to the playoffs, plus the No. 1 ranked farm system, we also saw some confirmation and validation recently that the Orioles' international program is also starting to make some noise.

The biggest noise and it was real loud, came from 19-year-old catcher Samuel Basallo from the Dominican Republic. Signed by the club in January of 2021 for $1.3 million, he rose three levels this season, starting at Low Single-A Delmarva, moving to High-A Aberdeen and ended the year with Double-A Bowie.

Then he moved into top 100 prospects lists and flew up the rankings. Now he is rated No. 43 nationally by Baseball America and No. 46 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 5 on the O’s top 30.

This week, Basallo was named the Most Valuable Player and top MLB prospect in the Carolina League. He hit .313 with a .953 OPS in 114 games across three levels. In 83 games with the Shorebirds-only he hit .299/.384/.503/.887 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs.

On top of all that, Basallo led a group of seven Orioles prospects recently selected in the Dominican Winter League draft. The six teams draft 16 rounds. The seven selections tied the O’s for most among any MLB organizations, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets also with seven.

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O's game blog: A chance for a series sweep at Houston

bradish @ARI

The Orioles have nine series sweeps this season and are trying for No. 10 today at Houston after posting wins of 8-7 and 9-5 at Minute Maid Park.

With last night’s win, the Orioles improved to 50-26 away from Oriole Park, the best road record in the major leagues. This is also just the third time in O’s history they have posted 50 or more road wins, topped by their 52 in 1997. The 1980 team also won 50 road games.

The Orioles (95-56) have a 2 1/2-game lead atop the American League East on the Rays (93-59) with 11 games left. They have a magic number of eight to clinch the AL East championship, and need to go 5-6 or better to win 100 games.

The Orioles are 7-1 in Houston since the 2021 season. That year they swept a three-game series in June, scoring 27 runs. Last August, they won two of three in Houston, holding the Astros to four runs in those three games.

The Astros (84-68), now leading the AL West by just a half-game over both the Rangers and Mariners, have lost four of their last five and six of eight games. They are 7-10 in their past 17 games and are now 38-39 at home on the season.

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Kjerstad on O's player development: "They have a great eye for talented hitters and a great way of developing us"

Heston Kjerstad HR

On this day a year ago - Sept. 20, 2022 - Heston Kjerstad went 1-for-4 with a triple and three RBI's for High-A Aberdeen in the South Atlantic League Championship Series. He would lead the IronBirds to a win and to a third and deciding game of the SAL final series that they would not win.

And for Kjerstad, who now has five games and 13 major league plate appearances under his belt, with two homers, hitting his second last night, his story includes his bout with myocarditis, one that delayed his minor league debut. But once he got started, he moved fast.

Kjerstad made his O’s professional debut with Low Single-A Delmarva on June 10, 2022, and ended the year with Aberdeen in the playoffs, before he tore up the Arizona Fall League. That led to beginning this year with Double-A Bowie, moving to Triple-A Norfolk and now making the majors. It all happened in a span of just over 15 months from that first game with the Shorebirds.

In a clubhouse interview Sunday morning, I reminded him that this time last year he was playing for Aberdeen in the SAL Championship Series.

“Definitely been awesome,” Kjerstad said. “Been a lot of different places on different teams over the past year. Definitely pumped now to be here. It’s been a real journey and really excited now to get things rolling up here and be part of a team that is this special.”

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O's game blog: Looking for a series victory at Houston

Kyle Gibson throws gray

Now 6-1 at Houston since the start of the 2021 season, the Orioles can win the series tonight if they take Game 2 of this three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

The Orioles (94-56) lead the American League East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay (92-59) and the Birds have a magic number of nine to clinch the division championship.

On Sunday the Orioles trailed heading to the last of the eighth, ninth and 10th innings and won. Last night they trailed at the end of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, yet won. They beat two different playoff teams in those games, going 2-0 when trailing after eight innings. Through Saturday, they were 1-46 when behind at the end of eight.

The Orioles now lead the major leagues with 48 comeback wins, with Cincinnati second (46) and Philadelphia (41) third.

In winning three in a row, Baltimore has outscored the Rays and Astros by 21-11.

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The Orioles' case for the defense (plus another amazing win)

Cedric Mullins

In previous glory days of the Orioles from long ago – when they won 100 or more games three straight years from 1969-1971 – outstanding pitching and defense went hand-in-hand.

The Orioles won 11 Gold Gloves in that three-year period with players like Brooks Robinson, Mark Belanger, Dave Johnson and Paul Blair leading the way.

The 2023 Orioles play some really good defense too. On Saturday, in an 8-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, maybe their biggest of the year, it was pitching and defense that showed the way.

Looking back at my scorecard, where I sometimes highlight good defensive plays, there is a lot of yellow highlights. A nifty double play turned in the fourth. Aaron Hicks a nice running catch in right in the fifth and Gunnar Henderson ranging right at shortstop in that same inning with a nice play that ended with a scoop at first base by Ryan O’Hearn. O’Hearn made a diving stop an inning later and another nice scoop on another nice Henderson play. Austin Hays ran way back into deep left and crashed into the wall after making a super running catch.

The glove-work was top notch. They probably don't record a shutout without it.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins in Houston


The Orioles lead the American League East by two games, plus hold the playoff tiebreaker over the Tampa Bay Rays with 13 games to play. They begin the last regular season road trip tonight at Houston in a matchup of AL division leaders and a possible playoff preview.

The Orioles (93-56) will play three games this week at Houston and then four at Cleveland. They then return home to wrap up the regular season with two games versus Washington and four against Boston. 

Both best-of-three AL wild card series begin Oct. 3 and both of the best-of-five AL division series start Oct. 7. The American League Championship Series starts Oct. 15 and the 2023 World Series begins Friday, Oct. 27. If the Fall Classic goes seven games, it will end on Saturday, Nov. 4.

The Birds won the final two games of the Tampa Bay series by a combined 13-4 score to win the season series 8-5 over the Rays. It's the first time the O's have taken a season series from Tampa Bay since 2016. The Orioles played four series this year versus the Rays and didn't lose any of them, going 2-1, 1-1, 3-1 and 2-2.

In the eight games this year between those teams decided by one or two runs, the Orioles went 7-1.

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After amazing Sunday at Camden Yards, O's need to refocus and wrap up AL East

2023 Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles played the Tampa Bay Rays four series this year. The Rays did not win one series although they were in great shape to win this last one after winning the first two games.

They scored 11 runs in winning one close game and one blowout. Then the Orioles won one blowout and one close game.

The Tampa Bay offense, which began this series second in the AL in runs per game and second in team slugging and OPS, was held to four runs the last two games - games the O's won by a combined 13-4 score.

Over 20 innings on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Baltimore pitchers held the Rays to 10 hits and three earned runs. Starting pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer combined to allow one run over 13 innings.

The Orioles went 2-0-2 in four series versus Tampa Bay this year and won the season series 8-5 for their first season series win over Tampa Bay since 2016.

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Amazing comeback: O's trail in eighth, ninth and 10th, yet walk off Rays in 11th (Hyde quotes added)


In a game in which they trailed by two runs in the eighth, and by one in the ninth and the 10th today, the Orioles produced a stirring comeback win.

One that lifted them back to a two-game lead atop the American League East at 93-56. They split the four-game series with the Rays, winning the last two games.

Cedric Mullins' sac fly with one out in the 11th scored Adley Rutschman from third and the O's had a walk-off win, 5-4 in 11 over Tampa Bay. An amazing comeback victory. And Mullins third career walk-off plate appearance. 

Before they sealed the win, Baltimore produced some late-game drama today. After Tampa Bay hit two homers to take a 3-1 lead in the eighth, the Orioles rallied to tie it with single runs in the eighth and ninth. They were down to their last out when they tied the score in the ninth and also in the tenth.

Down 3-2 to the last of the ninth, the Orioles rallied against Rays closer Pete Fairbanks. He came on in the last of the eighth with the Rays leading 3-1 and the O's pulled to within a run on Adley Rutschman's 19th homer.

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O's game blog: O's look to split series, wrap up 2023 playoff spot in series finale

kremer v HOU

A series that got off to a pretty brutal start for the Orioles could have a real happy ending today with a win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

If they get the win, the Orioles (92-56) will widen their American League East lead to two games with 13 games left. And they will clinch their first playoff berth since the 2016 season.

The Orioles clinch a place in the playoffs today if they win, and even if they lose they will clinch with a loss by either Texas or Seattle. The Rays' magic number to clinch the postseason is also one, and the same scenarios are true today for the Rays. A loss by Texas or Seattle would put both Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the 2023 postseason. 

A 93rd win would also make the 2023 Orioles the 17th team in club history to have 93 or more. Five O's teams have won 100 or more. The last was the 1980 Orioles. This club needs to go 8-6 or better in its remaining games to get there.

The O's broke their first-place tie with Tampa Bay with Saturday's 8-0 win at Oriole Park. Gunnar Henderson hit his 27th homer and had three hits and three RBIs. Six different O's drove in runs as they went 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position. After the O's had scored just six runs during a four-game losing streak, they had six by last night's fourth inning.

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Brandon Hyde updates Félix Bautista's side session, plus other notes


Orioles closer Félix Bautista, on the injured list with a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, took a potentially significant step today.

He threw off a mound in the Orioles bullpen before the series finale with Tampa Bay.

“He just threw a side this morning,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his pregame press conference. “Sounds like it went pretty well. That was kind of the next step in his throwing progression. So, see how he feels tomorrow. We’re just kind of day-to-day with him right now.”

Hyde was asked if he is pleased with this progress for Bautista, who has not pitched since Aug. 25.

“Yeah. I just ran into him and (head athletic trainer) Brian (Ebel) after the side session and it sounds like it went pretty well. That’s always encouraging," he said.

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Henderson and Rodriguez lead O's to win Saturday, now team on doorstep of playoffs


When I asked manager Brandon Hyde before last night's game how his clubhouse was holding up after four straight losses and two straight to Tampa Bay, he basically said he didn't sense any difference. His team was ready for a big game Saturday night after losing by 4-3 and 7-1 to a Rays team that was red-hot and had now tied the Orioles for the lead in the American League East.

“I just think they’re disappointed, but they’re going to bounce back, ready to play tonight,” Hyde said. “I haven’t sensed anything. You can hear them interacting well. We had a good hitters meeting a while ago, but we do every day. So, I think they’re ready to go.”

They were indeed ready to go.

After scoring six runs the previous four games, they scored six runs in four innings. Off Tyler Glasnow, a pitcher with a 3.15 ERA for the year. Glasnow was 2.53 in 10 second-half starts. 

The Rays entered Saturday's game having allowed four or fewer earned runs in 11 consecutive games, their longest streak since a club-record 19-game run from Sept. 16, 2021 to April 10, 2022. Tampa Bay's pitching staff has posted an AL-best 2.79 ERA in that span.

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O's game blog: Looking for a win in the Tampa Bay series

rodriguez white

Hoping their offense will break out to help the cause, the Orioles host the Rays tonight looking for their first win in Game 3 of this series. With wins by 4-3 and 7-1 the last two nights, the Rays have tied the Orioles for first place atop the American League East.

Tonight's winner will sit alone atop the division.

Baltimore's offense, which produced just two runs in the last two games of the St. Louis series, has scored only six runs on 18 hits in the past four games. The O's have lost those four by a combined 17-6 score. They are 1-5 in the last six games by a 29-20 score. 

The four-game losing streak matches the longest of the season for the Orioles, who also had lost four in a row June 27-July 1.

In this series, O's batters are just 6-for-59 (.102) scoring four runs and going 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

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Baumann on his return to the Orioles bullpen

baumann white

An Oriole for the entire season until he was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk Aug. 23, right-hander Mike Baumann is back in the clubhouse and back on the active roster today.

He was recalled as righty Bryan Baker, who pitched three innings last night, was optioned back to the Tides.

Over six games since he was sent to Triple-A, Baumann has pitched six scoreless innings allowing just one hit. He has walked five and fanned nine with an .056 average against and a WHIP of 1.00 with Triple-A.

“Just worked on consistency,” said Baumann of his time on the farm. “Just kind of fine-tuning some things. Really just kind of getting a little reset. Focusing on attacking hitters and been feeling good about it.

“I knew there was good reason behind it (being sent to the minors). I’ve been in that situation before. Control what I can control and focus one day at a time.”

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