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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Hall of Famers return, O's win and "there was greatness in our clubhouse"

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I have mentioned a few times lately that not all days at the ballpark are created equal. Some are more special. We keep getting days like that around Birdland lately, and Saturday was sure one of them.

To have Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray at the Yard was pretty awesome, for the fans and the Orioles team too. The ceremony for the 30th anniversary celebration of Oriole Park at Camden Yards was well done, and brought back some nice memories of some wonderful moments over the years.

Then the Orioles' winning streak continued with a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh as 41,086 cheered them on. It was awesome to see Oriole Park rocking like it was Saturday. When I headed home the fans at the Yard were still rocking at the postgame concert.

I was just excited I had recognized a few of the songs. Had set the over/under at two and I went over. Yay for me. But that just capped off a great day and night for the fans of Birdland.

The Hall of Famers, No. 33 and No. 5, spent time talking to the Orioles players before the game. And after that they talked with reporters, and Murray was asked if this current club reminds him of the 1979 team that made Oriole magic a thing.

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O's celebrate Camden Yards with 6-3 win over the Pirates (updated)

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Perhaps fueled with some momentum from the pregame ceremony and celebration of 30 years of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the current group of Birds got off to a fast start today against Pittsburgh.

Not long after the fans cheered Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray and Mike Mussina with gusto, among others that returned, the 2022 Orioles scored once in the first and twice in the second off Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Pirates would close the gap but the Orioles did their part toward making the day a party and a success with a 6-3 win over the Pirates before an enthusiastic crowd of 41,086 at the ballpark. That is the second-largest crowd of the year behind opening day. 

Before the game Robinson and Murray spoke to the Orioles players. Manager Brandon Hyde said it meant so much to his team.

“Priceless day for our guys,” said Hyde. “We were so honored to have Brooks and Eddie in our clubhouse to say a few words of encouragement. Just greatness in our clubhouse. Our guys felt it, they were appreciative. The whole ceremony was fantastic. I think our whole team was out there for it to recognize some great moments here over the last 30 years and the people that were a part of it. Really impressed with everything, but the cherry on top was Brooks and Eddie being in our clubhouse.”

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O's game blog: Looking to extend a winning streak

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After recording their fourth 1-0 win of the year Friday night against Pittsburgh, the Orioles host the Pirates again today and a win in either of the next two games will give them their 16th series win of the year. They are 15-14-4 in series play thus far through the Texas series.

The 1-0 win came via a six-hitter which was a combined effort of right-handers Dean Kremer and Félix Bautista and lefty Cionel Pérez. Kremer allowed four hits over 6 1/3 innings and his ERA had been 6.94 his previous five starts. Pérez got five big outs and lowered his ERA to 1.15. Bautista got the final three outs, the last two on strikeouts with two men in the ninth. It was his fourth save, but first save chance since the trade of former closer Jorge López to Minnesota.

The O’s have won four in a row and their pitchers have allowed just seven earned runs in those four wins. Last night was Baltimore’s 10th shutout of the year and second in the last eight games. The team ERA is 2.57 in those eight games.

Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Kremer is the first Baltimore pitcher since Jim Palmer in 1978 to start three games in a season that ended in 1-0 O's wins. The Orioles won their fourth 1-0 game, the most by an MLB team since the San Francisco Giants won five in 2019. The last year in which the Birds won four games by a 1-0 score was 1983, and before 2022, the O's did not have a 1-0 win since July 4, 2018 versus Texas.

In the last turn through the pitching rotation, Austin Voth, Spenser Watkins, Jordan Lyles, Kyle Bradish and Kremer have allowed three earned runs over 28 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.14. With the win last night, Kremer improved to 4-3 with a 3.43 ERA.

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Austin Hays expected to avoid the IL and other pregame notes

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O’s outfielder Austin Hays is not in the starting lineup for the third straight game with a sore and tight left oblique. During the Orioles clubhouse media availability today before batting practice, Hays said he was hopeful he would not need a stint on the injured list.

“Not at this point, no.” he said. “Have a little bit better feel after today. We’ve let it settle these last couple of days. So, we’ll have a little bit better understanding where I’m at today once I go do my (pregame) stuff.

“I feel a little bit better today. Just got to reassess where I’m at. We’ve just been doing treatment right now to let it fully settle. That is three days of just straight treatment so we’ll asses today and see where it’s at.”

And where it is at is a better place today. When manager Brandon Hyde talked with reporters, Hays had already completed some pregame work and it went well.

“Hays is trending in the right direction,” said Hyde. “Feels a lot better today. Hopefully he is in there the next couple of days. Took some swings today in the cage. Felt a lot better. Went out and did a pretty good throwing program out there. It’s just, with an oblique, you want to be really cautious. Just want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we put him back out there. So it looks good.”

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Pitching carries the night in homestand opener (plus O's alums on anniversary)

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The Orioles returned home and the winning continued Friday as Dean Kremer, Cionel Pérez and Félix Bautista combined on a six-hit, 1-0 win over Pittsburgh.

For the Orioles (55-51), it was a nice start to a homestand.

Tampa Bay won Friday but Seattle lost, and the Mariners have now dropped into the third American League wild card spot. They lead the Orioles for that by 1 1/2 games. The O's are two games back of Tampa Bay, which holds the second AL wild-card berth. 

The Orioles went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position but the Baltimore pitchers made the one run stand up as they pitched their 10th shutout of the season and second in the last eight games. The 10 shutouts match the total from the full 2019 and 2021 seasons combined, when they had five each.

The Orioles have gone 20-7 the last 27 games. It's their best single-season 27-game stretch since going 20-7 from Aug. 28-Sept. 24, 2014.

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O's game blog: The homestand begins against Pittsburgh

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After going 4-2 on a road trip which ended with a three-game sweep at Texas, the Orioles begin a six-game homestand tonight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles swept Texas, winning by scores of 7-2, 8-2 and 6-3 as they swept the series and their six games this year versus Texas.

The Orioles (54-51) moved three games over the .500 mark for the first time since April 4, 2021 when they began that season 3-0 at Boston’s Fenway Park. They scored 21 runs in the sweep against the Rangers and allowed just eight.

It was the Orioles first season sweep of six games or more since they went 6-0 versus the Los Angeles Angels in the 2010 season. They scored 40 runs in the six games versus Rangers pitching. In this recent series they had 30 hits including 10 doubles and five homers off Texas pitchers.

Now the O’s host Pittsburgh and Baltimore is 7-5 this year versus NL Central teams and coupled with their 1-1 mark against the Washington Nationals, they are 8-6 against NL teams this year.

The Orioles, who were 46-46 at the All-Star break, are 8-5 in the second half. They have won seven of their past 10, 19 of 26, 24 of 36 and 30 of 46 games.

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Phillips excited for first start and O's alums back for 30th anniversary celebration

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He may hitting just .145 in 76 games this year, but new Orioles outfielder Brett Phillips has good numbers in his career batting at Camden Yards. And tonight he’ll take the field for his first start as an Oriole. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that the ultra-enthusiastic Phillips could not be much more excited.

“Coming into a clubhouse that has a lot of energy as it is, I’m a guy who brings the energy and feeds off of energy. Just being here the other day for the first time I’ve recognized that we’ve got a group that is hungry here and that’s willing to get better and wants to win. We have a good opportunity here and I’m trying to come in here and do what I can to help this team win. And whatever opportunity that Brandon Hyde has for me, I’m going to be ready,” Phillips said earlier in the Baltimore clubhouse.

He has watched the Orioles from across the field with Tampa Bay and sees a very different team in 2022. One that begins tonight at 54-51 and two games out of the final American League playoff spot.

“Being on the Rays, we won 18 of 19 against Baltimore last year and looking from the other dugout (this season) it’s night and day different,” he said. “How they are preparing, their approach, the information that they are getting. I told the hitting coaches, I’m a sponge. I wanna bring the energy, contribute as much as I can and I want to win the World Series. You have to belive that first then actually do it.”

Phillips is a career .259/.355/.537 (14-for-54) hitter in 22 games at Oriole Park, with eight extra-base hits (4-2B, 3B, 3 HR), eight runs scored, 11 RBIs, eight walks, and four stolen bases. His .892 career OPS at Oriole Park is his highest at any ballpark where he has played at least 10 games. And his batting line is .280/.308/.400 (7-for-25) with three doubles, two runs scored, one RBI, one walk, and two stolen bases in eight games at Camden Yards this season.

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Minor league notes on Ortiz, Cowser, Hall, Holliday and more

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It has finally happened. The Double-A Bowie Baysox are rolling. It happened later than we thought but the Baysox are making up for lost time now.

After going 27-42 in the first-half Eastern League race, Bowie has surged into first place in its division in the second half, going 20-8 heading into Thursday’s game. The Baysox have a few scorching hot hitters and a bullpen that has posted a 2.48 ERA in the second half after posting a 4.78 ERA earlier.

Among the hottest hitters is shortstop Joey Ortiz, the club’s fourth-round pick in 2019 from New Mexico State. The Orioles' first three selections in that draft were Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Stowers, and they took Ortiz as their fifth pick.

He got off to a very slow start this season after undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery last June. He ended this June batting .206 with a .596 OPS. Then he got on fire for the Baysox in July and produced a batting line of .404/.438/.674 with an OPS of 1.112.

“He had an elite shoulder injury that is difficult to come back from, and I think he has finally found his strength and his groove,” said Matt Blood, the Orioles' director of player development. “And he’s been making little adjustments all along the way. This is the player we saw last year before he got hurt. Probably a combination of getting fully healthy and strong as well as making adjustments to the league and the pitching he’s seen this year. Joey and that Bowie team are playing fantastic.”

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Another look at a strong O's response to the trade deadline

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The two losses on the field Saturday and Sunday where their offense didn’t get it done, and the loss of two key players via trades on Monday and Tuesday didn’t slow the roll for the Orioles even a little bit.

Their 6-3 win over Texas on Wednesday afternoon completed a three-game series sweep and a six-game season sweep of the club that spent so much money last winter to be where the Orioles are right now – in contention for the postseason.

The Orioles remained 1 ½ games behind Tampa Bay for the third American League wild card spot with the win over the Rangers. They didn’t get much going against lefty Martín Pérez, who ranks fifth in the AL in ERA. But as soon as he left the game, Robinson Chirinos hit his third homer and the Orioles took the lead as the dugout erupted. They didn’t flinch when Texas tied the game moments later. They simply scored two runs each in the eighth and ninth to go back ahead and put this one away.

It was an impressive afternoon for the Orioles, who are now 54-51. They are three games over .500 for the first time since April 4, 2021 when they started that season with a three-game sweep at Boston.

It was a day where all facets of the game had a role in the victory. Right-hander starter Kyle Bradish needed 93 pitches to cover five innings, but he again flashed plus stuff in allowing just one run. The defense made a couple of big plays, including shortstop Jorge Mateo with a nice backhand stop to start a huge 6-4-3 double play with two on in the Texas sixth. Terrin Vavra’s pinch-hit double in the eighth broke a 2-2 tie, and he scored the fourth run on a Chirinos single for his second RBI in two innings. Anthony Santander’s RBI double in the ninth extended both the lead and his hitting streak to 14 games.

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O's game blog: O's shoot for a three-game sweep at Texas

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Today in the finale of a series and road trip, the Orioles are going for a three-game sweep. They have swept just one three-game series all year, and that was against Texas. They can get their second versus the same team today. In the early stages of their 10-game win streak the Orioles swept three one-run games at home versus the Rangers July 4-6.

After winning by 7-2 and 8-2 scores the last two nights, the Orioles can complete a sweep today in Arlington. The Orioles have one four-game sweep this season, and that was July 7-10 against the Los Angeles Angels, and it too came during the win streak.

The Orioles (53-51) are 3-2 on the two-city road trip that ends today and 24-31 in road games for the season. They are 7-4 the last 11 road games.

As play begins in Major League Baseball today, the Tampa Bay Rays (54-49) hold the third American League wild-card spot by one game over Cleveland (53-50) and by 1 ½ games over the Orioles, with Boston and Chicago two games back. So that is five teams separated by just two games battling for one spot. But Seattle is just one game ahead of Tampa Bay, so you could also reflect that as six teams going for two spots.

Over the last 40 games the Orioles have gone 26-14 since mid-June. In that span, their team ERA is 3.11 and in that span they have allowed two earned runs or fewer 20 times, going 19-1. They have allowed two runs in each of the first two games of this series.

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Brandon Hyde: "I don't think our guys are going to back down"

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It is reasonable to wonder if the trades of Trey Mancini to Houston and Jorge López to Minnesota will derail the Orioles' train, which is looking to have the playoffs as a surprise 2022 destination. It would be an amazing story if they make it, but it was going to be hard enough to pull that off with Mancini and López.

But how can this team do it without them?

The answer is they might not. But this team has surprised us enough already, and shown plenty of heart and guts already, that putting it past them might not be the best play. Sure, it is still a long shot, maybe a longer shot than a few days ago, but the math still works.

They are very much right in the race, and it’s August 3 with 58 games left.

After last night's second straight win in Texas, by an 8-2 score, the Orioles are 53-51 and are just 1 1/2 games out of the last American League playoff spot. The O's lost two key players and responded with two big wins over Texas.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles faces Texas as series continues

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After taking the field last night hours after the club traded Trey Mancini, the Orioles will take the field tonight after the club traded closer Jorge López this afternoon to the Minnesota Twins for four minor league pitchers. Tonight they play the second game of a three-game series at Texas.

The Orioles (52-51) beat the Rangers 7-2 last night in the series opener. Cedric Mullins hit a homer on the game’s third pitch – his third leadoff homer of the year. It was his 14th career leadoff home run, the second-most in Orioles history behind Brady Anderson's 44.

The Orioles took a 4-0 lead in the second inning and never trailed in moving over the .500 mark. They matched last year’s win total when they went 52-110.

The Orioles had scored just 10 runs in three games in Cincinnati, and just four runs in losing the last two games at Great American Ball Park and producing just one extra-base hit in those contests.

Catcher Adley Rutschman went 3-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and an RBI Monday night for his second career three-hit game. He reached base a career-high four times. Rutschman is batting .421 (16-for-38) over his past 12 games. Last night was his 13th multi-hit game.

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A look at the pitchers the Orioles got in the Jorge López deal

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In a move designed to obtain future talent for a current All-Star closer, the Orioles today traded right-hander Jorge López to the Minnesota Twins for a package of four pitchers. And yes, they made this move while they are just 2 1/2 games out of the last American League playoff spot.

Here is a bit more on the four players they got from the Twins for López, a player the Orioles acquired via waivers from the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 9, 2020. This season he has recorded 19 saves with a 1.68 ERA.

The O's added left-hander Cade Povich, a third-round pick out of Nebraska in 2021 (No. 98 overall) who has pitched this year at high Single-A Cedar Rapids. He is 6-8 with a 4.46 ERA. In 78 2/3 innings, he has allowed 71 hits and nine homers with 26 walks and 107 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. He has a 2.97 walk rate and 12.24 strikeout rate.

One scout I spoke with said his fastball averages in the 92 mph range but has touched 96 this season. He also throws a curveball in the high 70s, slider in the 80-81 range and a firm changeup around 84 mph. The scout liked his slider as his best secondary and described him as “polished, college lefty.” He throws a lot of strikes, especially with his fastball and slider, and mixes in the other pitches as chase and putaway offerings.

MLB.com and MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis discussed Povich on MLB Network.

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O's pitching acquisitions move right into their top 12 prospects

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If you could take sentiment out of it – almost impossible to do when it comes to Trey Mancini - the Orioles return in Monday's trade doesn’t look too bad.

A strong farm system got stronger, and now some at-bats opened up for other players like Terrin Vavra, Yusniel Diaz or maybe at some point later Kyle Stowers, as Mancini joins the Houston Astros.

Calling him a rental player after all he has been through and all that he means to the team and town almost seems disrespectful, but from a most technical standpoint, he is a pending free agent that Houston will have for the rest of this season. And possibly no more. It is not impossible to say he and the Orioles could have contract conversations over the winter.

And for Mancini, a beloved figure today and probably forever in Birdland, the Orioles did get two pitchers who show promise for the future. Both have touched 98 mph and were ranked highly for two clubs that have solid pitching development in Houston and Tampa Bay. And they are ranked highly in the now well-regarded O’s farm system.

The Orioles acquired right-hander Seth Johnson, 23, from Tampa Bay, and MLBPipeline.com last night, in an updated O’s top 30 list, rated him No. 8, right behind Stowers and just ahead of Heston Kjerstad. They added right-hander Chayce McDermott, 23, from Houston and ranked him No. 12. He is just behind César Prieto and ahead of Mike Baumann. So the two new guys are already keeping good company there.

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O's game blog: The series opener at Texas

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It got active in Birdland this afternoon with the news of Trey Mancini’s trade to the Houston Astros. But as nightfall arrives, there is a game to play and the Orioles are at Texas tonight to begin a three-game series as their road trip continues.

The Orioles (51-51) lost the last two games at Cincinnati after winning there 6-2 on Friday night. But on Saturday and Sunday their offense produced just four runs on 12 hits and just one extra-base hit. That was Anthony Santander’s homer in the eighth inning yesterday that briefly produced a 2-2 tie with the Reds. But when Brandon Drury homered in the last of the eighth, the Reds took a 3-2 lead, and three outs later had a win by that margin.

The Orioles fell to 22-31 on the road. They ended July going 16-9 with a plus-19 run differential. They fell to 7-8 in rubber-match games.

A win by the Orioles tonight and they would match the win total of last year’s club that went 52-110.

Even with back-to-back losses, the Orioles have won four of seven and 16 of their past 23 games. They have won 21 of 33 and 27 of 43.

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