After strong All-Star haul, it's on to New York for the Orioles

cano and rutschman

The Orioles certainly seemed to have several players worthy of All-Star consideration. It had to be a bit disappointing in Birdland when catcher Adley Rutschman did not win the fan vote to start for the American League on July 11 in Seattle.

But now it has to be some validation for the Orioles’ strong first half play and recognition that those around the league have noticed when the Orioles got four players on the All-Star team last night.

Rutschman will be joined by outfielder Austin Hays and relief pitchers Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano.

This is quite the haul for the Orioles, who had just one selection every year since 2017 (there was no game in 2020). In 2016 the O’s had five selections.

“So cool. We had a team meeting this morning and it was my pleasure to let those guys know. All four great stories and super proud of all those guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said Sunday.

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O's game blog: Looking for some offense in the series and homestand finale

irvin stands white

The Orioles need a win this afternoon over the Minnesota Twins to avoid a three-game series sweep. They have not been swept in a series yet this year but have come close a few times.

On May 26-27 they lost the first two games of a home series with Texas but won 3-2 in the series finale to avoid that sweep. June 6-7 they lost two at Milwaukee, but won 6-3 in Game 3 of that series. On June 16-17 they lost two games at Wrigley Field but then beat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 in the third game to avoid a sweep.

Now they have 8-1 and 1-0 losses to the Twins, a team that is 16-5 versus Baltimore since the 2019 season and is 27-8 since 2019.

The Orioles have just seven hits this series and only one for extra bases, and that is Adley Rutschman’s sixth-inning homer to right on Friday night. The Birds are 0-for-4 this series with runners in scoring position and have not scored in their last 12 innings.

The Orioles have not been swept three in a row since May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit.

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No pick 1/1 this year: O's select No. 17 in MLB Draft a week from tonight

mlb draft

After picking in the top five of the MLB Draft the last four years – and picking No. 2 or higher in three of those four years and selecting No. 1 twice  – the Orioles will find this coming draft very different.

They have the No. 17 pick in round one of the draft, which begins a week from tonight. It will take place over three days and 20 rounds beginning next Sunday evening. 

Along with picking No. 17, the Orioles will also select at No. 53, No. 63, No. 86 and No. 100, so five of the top 100 selections.

“It’s a very deep draft,” Orioles director of draft operations Brad Ciolek said Saturday at Camden Yards. “I would say, in terms of the composition, a lot of folks saw what the power arms did in Omaha (at the College World Series). Whether it’s Hurston Waldrep (of Florida), Paul Skenes (of LSU), Rhett Lowder (Wake Forest). There is a lot to like on that front. The college hitting board is also good as well. I know that’s been our flavor the last few years here. And then the high school infield demographic is very good. Lot of very polished high school hitters in terms of plate discipline.”

The draft prep for the Baltimore scouting staff has been intense as always in the buildup to draft day.

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O's blanked by Twins, reach mid-year at 48-33 (updated)


The Orioles reached the mathematical halfway point of the 2023 season this afternoon in frustrating fashion. They got a strong pitching performance from starter Kyle Bradish, but for the second day in a row, their offense was shut down.

Minnesota improved to 42-42, blanking the Orioles 1-0 in front of a crowd of 40,012 at Oriole Park that came to get O’s Hawaiian shirts and hoped to see the home team win. They had to settle for 1-for-2 today at the Yard.

The Orioles are 48-33 at the midpoint of the year. That’s a 96-win pace that would likely lead to a playoff berth. But in the short term, they now have their first four-game losing streak of this year.

The Orioles were held to three singles today, going 3-for-30. They were shutout 1-0 for the first time since Sept. 11, 2022 versus Boston. 

They are now 4-6-1 in their past 11 series since May 26, going 15-16 in that span.

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

bradish @ SFG orange

After their 10-3 win over Cincinnati on Monday night, the Orioles had a three-game win streak and were 3-1 on this homestand. They were on their way, it looked like, to having a strong nine-game run at Oriole Park. But three losses later, by a combined 22-9 score, the Orioles are 3-4 on the homestand and need two wins the next two days to have a winning run in this stretch at home.

After Monday’s games the Orioles were 19 games over the .500 mark for the first time since the 2014 season. They begin play today at 48-32 (.600) and are 6 1/2 games back of American League East-leading Tampa Bay.

The Birds have lost three in a row, five of eight and seven of their past 12 games. Over a longer stretch, they are 11-8 the past 19 games and finished June with an 8-1 loss to Minnesota last night, completing a record of 13-11 for the month.

Earlier, the Orioles went 1-0 in March, 18-9 in April and 16-12 in May.

The O’s offense over the last six games has scored six, three, 10, one, seven and one run.

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Amid some debate, O's Jackson Holliday is now No. 1 prospect, per MLBPipeline

holliday in cage

It was quite interesting and maybe even a little controversial this week when released an updated top 100 prospects list that elevated O’s prospect Jackson Holliday from No. 2 to the No. 1 prospect in the game.

Holliday leapfrogged Cincinnati’s Elly De La Cruz to get the top spot, with De La Cruz moving from No. 1 to No. 2. And this was not because De La Cruz, now in the big leagues, could soon lose his prospect eligibility. He still has it. So even while De La Cruz was making a name for himself at the big league level and recently hit for the cycle, the 19-year-old kid playing for the Orioles at High-A Aberdeen is now No. 1.

Baseball America's listing has De La Cruz No. 1 and Holliday No. 2.

This week I talked to senior writer Jim Callis on several topics, including Holliday's ascension to No. 1 on their list.

“We took, as you might suspect, a lot of abuse," Callis said. "'Elly De La Cruz, what are you doing? He’s playing great, the Reds are playing great. His tools are amazing and you see him on a nightly basis.' We did take some abuse on that.

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O's game blog: The series opener with the Minnesota Twins

dean kremer pitches white

With a 40-42 record, the Minnesota Twins would be in last place in the American League East and 15 games out of first place. But as they open a series tonight with the Orioles at Camden Yards, they are tied for first place.

Going into today, the Twins and Cleveland (39-41) were both two games under the .500 mark - a spot the Orioles have not been in for one day this season - yet they were tied for first playing .488 ball atop the American League Central.

The Central cannot brag of playing the season-long good baseball as the teams in the AL East have done, but some club is going to win that division and likely host a wild-card series this year. 

Minnesota comes to Baltimore off losing three in a row to Atlanta by scores of 4-1, 6-2 and 3-0. The Twins have lost nine of their last 14 games.

Minnesota has gone 2-4 through six games on their nine-game, 10-day roadtrip which began as they won two of three at Detroit. After this series, the Twins will travel back home to finish the pre All Star game portion of their schedule with a six-game, seven-day homestand, which consists of three games against the Royals and three games next weekend against the Orioles at Target Field.

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Ryan O'Hearn on his hot bat, batting fourth and better flyball rates

ryan o'hearn hits orange

If you think that the Orioles' Ryan O’Hearn is hitting the ball hard, a lot, the stats back that up. In June, when he is batting .328 with a .921 OPS, his average exit velocity of 95.1 mph is sixth in MLB (min. 40 PAs).

O’Hearn’s average exit velocity on the year is 93.4 mph, which ranks first on the Orioles among players that have gotten at least 50 plate appearances.

Is he as locked in as he’s ever been in the majors right now?

“Maybe. I’ve hit the ball hard always, I just often hit it on the ground. I think the mechanical changes have kind of helped hit the ball at better angles. And I think that turns into more production. Yes and no. I feel like I’ve constantly been growing as a hitter. I’ve always felt pretty mentally locked in but maybe the results are just better now than they ever have been because of some mechanical changes.”

Here are the O's team leaders in average exit velocity:

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At Triple-A, Grayson Rodriguez is getting results and making command gains

Grayson Rodriguez White Jersey

When he was last seen in the big leagues, O’s pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez was giving up nine runs over 3 1/3 innings on May 26 versus the Texas Rangers. After pitching to an ERA of 4.07 his first five big league starts, that number was 11.14 over his next five.

A reset was needed and Grayson was sent back to Triple-A Norfolk.

The marching orders for the staff there were mostly about getting his fastball control and command back to a level to get out big league hitters.

While his four-seam fastball averaged 96.7 mph in the majors, batters hit .395 with a slugging percentage of .750 off that pitch. That produced some loud contact and more work was needed.

“It is about shaping the slider a little bit and the fastball command was something with an emphasis as well,” Norfolk manager Buck Britton said of their work at Triple-A this month with Rodriguez. "In the big leagues, it doesn’t matter how hard you throw, if your fastball is sitting over the middle of the plate, guys will hit it.

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After Jordan Westburg's arrival, is Colton Cowser on deck?


After the arrival of Jordan Westburg to the majors this week, can outfielder Colton Cowser be too far behind? He could be in the on-deck circle at this point, putting up outstanding numbers this year at Triple-A while taking his plate discipline to a higher level.

Working against Cowser at the moment is the fact that the O’s outfield has been really good with a potential All-Star in Austin Hays, the return of Cedric Mullins, the recent power display of Anthony Santander and the solid play of Aaron Hicks. If they want Cowser to come up and step right in the lineup, this may not be the perfect time for that.

But after a slow start this year for Triple-A Norfolk – he was 3-for-30 at one point – his bat is now raking. Cowser had another good night last night in Norfolk's win, going 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, a run and an RBI.

For the year over 53 games, he is batting .328/.458/.534 with a .992 OPS, 10 doubles, a triple, nine homers, 49 runs and 37 RBIs. 

In addition to that, he has increased his walk rate from 10.5 to 18.3 this season and lowered his strikeout rate from 30.6 to 23.8.

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O's game blog: Looking for another series victory

rutschman hi five white

After a night where every American League East team lost, the Orioles remain four games behind first-place Tampa Bay as they take the field tonight. It’s the rubber match game of their series with the Cincinnati Reds (42-38) after the Orioles won 10-3 Monday night and lost 3-1 Tuesday night.

The Reds had lost the last two games of their series with Atlanta before coming to Oriole Park as their 12-game win streak was snapped on Saturday. But with Tuesday’s win they have won 13 of their past 16 and 16 of 21 games. And they are now 9-1 in their past 10 road games and have won five straight road series.

The Reds, who lead the NL Central by 0.5 games over Milwaukee, started the year going 7-15. But since then they are 35-23 (.603). That is the fourth-best record in the majors in that time frame.

The O’s pitching has slowed some hot Reds bats and held them to six runs and 12 hits in this series. Cincinnati for the year ranks fifth in the NL with a .744 OPS and fifth in runs per game at 4.89. They have done even better this month, ranking third in team OPS in the NL in June at .785, scoring 5.40 runs per game.

Their sensational rookie, Elly De La Cruz, came to Baltimore with 15 hits in his last 35 at-bats (.429) and with an OPS of .989 in his first 17 MLB games. But he is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts this series and has not hit the ball out of the infield.

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More on the strong season of Austin Hays and the Gunnar-Westburg connection

hays swings white

In the American League stats heading into last night’s games, he was still No. 1. The Orioles' Austin Hays was the American League’s leading hitter batting .319 and leading Bo Bichette at .318 by that narrow margin with Tampa Bay’s Yandy Diaz next at .316.

We know Hays will not make the All-Star team through the fan vote, as he has not advanced to the next phase of balloting. But he still could be selected to play for the American League on July 11 at Seattle.

“Would be a huge honor. It is just an accolade that is next to your name forever. That is something I’ll be able to tell my kids one day if that were something to happen. It would mean a lot to me, but we’ll see what happens,” said Hays earlier in this homestand.

Hays has been pretty relentless this season in his up-the-middle of the field approach. He told me during spring training he would work hard this year to use the whole field but starts with that gap-to-gap approach and felt he got away from that in the second-half of last year.

In 2022 he got off to a start like he has done now with a .834 OPS in late June and then it was just .626 in the second half. He was banged up a bit but stayed on the field without keeping up his early-season batting success.

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O's game blog: Tyler Wells faces Cincinnati

Tyler Wells pitching

It sure took a while – the game itself lasted two hours and 57 minutes and there were two rain delays totaling an hour and 59 minutes – but the Orioles won another series opener Monday night. On the occasion of Jordan Westburg’s major league debut they beat Cincinnati 10-3. They are now 18-8 in series-opening games and 8-5 when the opener is at home. 

Westburg went 1-for-4, and his bloop single in the fifth was his first big league hit. He also scored his first run and produced his first RBI and played solid defense at second base.

The Orioles had scored just 10 runs over the weekend in taking two of three from Seattle, and then got 10 in one night. They have scored 10 runs or more in a game six times this year.

Because they trailed 1-0 in the first inning, this was technically their 28th comeback win of the year. When the game began the O’s and Reds were both at 27 comeback victories to tie for the major league lead. Even though the O’s were leading by the second inning and never trailed after that, last night's game is another comeback win officially on their record.

At 48-29 (.623) the Orioles moved to within four games of idle Tampa Bay for the American League East lead. They have the third best record in the majors, behind only Tampa Bay (54-27, .667) and Atlanta (51-27, .654).

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This is familiar: Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg on same field tonight for O's

Gunnar Henderson white jersey

Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg will play together in the same infield tonight as Orioles for the first time, with Henderson starting at third base and Westburg at second. But it won’t be nearly the first time they have shared an infield as pro players.

Not even close.

It has happened and often on the Baltimore farm. So, for Henderson to experience Westburg’s big league debut last night and see his good friend go through that was also special for the soon-to-be-22-year-old O’s infielder.

Henderson did not play in the O’s 10-3 win over Cincinnati, but had a pretty good view of Westburg’s night as he went 1-for-4 and got his first major league hit, run and RBI, all in the same game.

“That was really cool. And a pretty eventful night in a sense, yeah his debut, but also the rain delay and wait through all that. Sure, that was eventful in itself. But he went out there and just did what he always does and showed you that it’s more than enough. Let him keep doing that and he’ll continue to flourish,” Henderson said this afternoon.

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Notes on Westburg's debut, Future Game selections and more

Westburg whites

As he played his first Major League game last night, making his long-awaited big league debut, Jordan Westburg entered an Orioles' clubhouse where he already has a strong comfort level.

He spent so much time with the Orioles in spring training and of course, has been teammates with many current Orioles during his 317 career games on the O’s farm since they selected him No. 30 overall out of Mississippi State in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Westburg began the 2021 season with Low Single-A Delmarva and ended it with Double-A Bowie. He began the 2022 season with Bowie and ended it with Triple-A Norfolk. And this year his start at Norfolk has finally taken him to Baltimore.

And he checked a lot of boxes in his first game - first hit, first run, first RBI and first win with the Orioles, who beat Cincinnati 10-3 in a game delayed twice by rain for nearly two hours. It was a long night but a special one for Westburg, who went 1-for-4 with a single, walk, run and RBI. 

Before his debut game, he said knowing so many players so well should be a big help to him as he tries to establish something at the big league level.

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O's game blog: Jordan Westburg's MLB debut, plus Holliday and Kjerstad to the Futures Game

Jackson Holliday

After winning the last two games against Seattle by 6-4 and 3-2 scores to take another series, the Orioles welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Camden Yards tonight as this homestand continues. The clubs open a three-game series tonight.

The game will mark the big league debut of O's prospect Jordan Westburg, who will bat seventh and play second base in the series opener. 

The Orioles (47-29) are the current No. 1 wild card team in the American League. But they are second in the AL East and 4.5 games behind Tampa Bay.

The Orioles are 2-1 on this homestand, have won four of their past six and 10 of the last 15 games. They are now 16-7-2 in series play for the year, 8-3-1 in home series and 24-14 at Oriole Park in 2023. Sunday’s win improved them to 8-4 in rubber match games.

With win No. 47, the Orioles matched the season-long win total of the 2018 Orioles, a club that went 47-115.

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Jordan Westburg on his Baltimore arrival and tonight's MLB debut


Now ranked as the No. 34 prospect in baseball by and No. 41 by Baseball America, Jordan Westburg is getting a lot of firsts out of the way today. Like his first interview as part of the Orioles before he takes the field with the Orioles tonight for the first time, batting seventh at second base.

“Feeling a lot right now,” Westburg said, surrounded by a large group of reporters this afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse. “Don’t really know what emotions I’m feeling. Lot of excitement but yeah, it’s been a whirlwind of a day. I’m excited to be here and get it going.”

Did he seek any advice from others who have recently been through this day?

“Nothing major. Just kind of asking where to go and what time everything is right now. Make sure I’m not late.

“Just kind of soak it all in, enjoy the moment, don’t be too nervous. Just kind of the cliché things,” he said.

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After more than a calendar year at Triple-A, Jordan Westburg's time has come


He has essentially played a full big league season’s worth of games at the Triple-A level. And now, after 158 games with the Norfolk Tides and having spent more than a calendar year with that club, Jordan Westburg’s big league debut is finally at hand.

He is expected to join the Orioles roster today and play in the game tonight when they open a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds. As it turns out, 21-year-old Elly De La Cruz of the Reds will not be the only big-name prospect getting attention in this series.

Westburg is ready, probably more than ready, and maybe among the most impressive aspects of his game is that while fans and media bantered about him and speculated about when his time would finally come, he just kept taking great at-bats and hammering baseballs.

The focus is strong.

In what would turn out to be his last two games in Norfolk’s series at Nashville, he went 5-for-9 with a homer. One last reminder to the organization – still here, still raking, still ready.

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O's game blog: Shooting for a series win against the Seattle Mariners

Kyle Bradish white jersey

With a walk-off win yesterday on Ryan McKenna’s two-run homer to right in the last of the 10th, the Orioles moved a game closer to first place, strengthened their hold on a wild card playoff spot and set themselves up to try to win another series.

The Orioles (46-29) are 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay, which lost Saturday. They have won three of their past five games and nine of the last 14. They are now 4-4 in extra innings, 11-8 in June and 23-14 at Oriole Park.

They have split the first two games of this series and are 7-4 in rubber match games.

They came up with their fourth walk-off win of the year, and they have had five such losses. They have walk-off wins on April 13 against Oakland and April 21 and April 23 against Detroit. Adley Rutschman’s homer ended the Oakland game and Adam Frazier was the batter for the other two previous walk-off wins.

McKenna, who drilled a 95 mph fastball 393 feet to right, produced his first career walk-off hit.

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As Cedric Mullins returned to lineup Saturday, Aaron Hicks stayed in it

Aaron Hicks white jersey

Continuing to make the most of his second chance with the Orioles, outfielder Aaron Hicks found himself back in the O’s starting lineup on Saturday afternoon against Seattle. That was big for him because, on the day Cedric Mullins returned to the team, he was both still on the roster and still getting at-bats.

In 28 games this year with the Yankees, Hicks’ OPS was .524. In 20 games with the Orioles through yesterday, it is .984. He had three multi-hit games with New York and has six with Baltimore.

And Hicks came up big again for the Orioles in the last of the sixth, hitting a go-ahead homer 426 feet to center for a 4-3 lead. That lead would not hold up, but on Ryan McKenna's two-run walk-off homer in the 10th the Orioles would beat the Mariners 6-4. 

The Orioles improved to 46-29 and moved to 4 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay, which lost. 

So Mullins was back, but Hicks was still in the starting nine. 

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