O's game blog: A chance for a two-game sweep against Tampa Bay

Tyler Wells

The Orioles lost the first game they played this season against the Tampa Bay Rays, but have since won three in a row. They won the last two games of a series at Camden Yards from May 8-10 and they won 8-6 last night at Tropicana Field.

So they took the opener of a two-game series, meaning they can sweep this series with a win this afternoon. By winning last night the Orioles ended a couple of streaks. Tampa Bay had been 12-0 this year in opening games of home series. The Rays had won seven straight home series, and the best they can do in this one is tie it.

The loss marked Tampa Bay’s third straight defeat, giving the Rays their first losing streak of more than two games since a five-game skid to conclude the 2022 season.

The Orioles' win last night ended this stat: The Orioles had lost their past 15 series at Tropicana Field dating to July 2017. According to Stats Perform, the 15-series-loss streak tied for the longest in club history. The O's also lost 15 straight road series at Boston between 2005 and 2010. While a loss today would mean they don't win this series, the Tuesday win also means they cannot lose it, so that stat is done now. 

Tampa Bay (51-25) leads the Orioles (45-27) by four games atop the American League East but now leads by just two games in the loss column.

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Wells' season innings load, hot hitters lead win over Tampa Bay and farm notes


When I interviewed right-hander Tyler Wells (6-2, 3.20 ERA) a few days ago for this article, we also talked about a topic not included in the previous article. That is his innings load for this year.

At some point in the second half it will have to become a topic of discussion for the O’s front office and manager Brandon Hyde. How far can they push Wells with his innings total for this year? And keep in mind they hope he is still pitching in October too.

The most innings as a pro that Wells has pitched were 119 1/3 in the minors in 2018. At the big league level, his career most is the 103 2/3 innings he pitched for the Orioles last year. He is at 81 2/3 innings right now (17th most in the American League). At his current pace he would pitch around 186 innings this season.

For now, Wells has tabled any discussion or concerns about his innings load for this season.

“For me, I’m not even focused on it,” he told me in Chicago. “If they want me to take the ball, I’m going to take the ball. You know that is the kind of person I am. I did that last year, taking the ball as long as I am healthy. I don’t think I’m really focused on that. I trust that our medical staff is doing their part in it and I know that Hyder is always doing his part with that. I know that the front office is too. Whenever it becomes a talking point with them, and they want to address it with me I am always listening. But for me right now I’m not worried about it.”

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O's game blog: The Tampa Bay series begins at the Trop

bradish gray

The Orioles road trip continues tonight at Tropicana Field as Baltimore begins a two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, the American League East leader and the club with the best record in MLB.

The Rays (51-24, .680) are on a pace to win 110 games, while the Orioles (44-27, .620) are on pace for 100 wins. The Rays lead the Orioles by five games atop the division but that margin is just three games in the loss column. While Tampa Bay's record ranks first in MLB, the Orioles are fourth in overall win percentage.

Both teams have won at a lesser pace over recent stretches. The Orioles are 3-4 in their past seven series, going 11-10 in 21 games in that span. But they have also won seven of their past 10.

The Orioles beat the Cubs Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep. They have not been swept in a series of at least two games since a three-game set from May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their streak of 62 consecutive series without being swept is the longest active streak in MLB, ahead of a 36-series streak by Arizona and a 23-series streak by Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay lost the last two games of its recent series with San Diego, and has gone 4-5 over the last nine games. In the last two series, the Rays went 2-2 against Oakland and 1-2 versus San Diego.

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Tyler Wells: Making the leap from Rule 5 pick to MLB leader in WHIP


From Rule 5 selection to the big league leader in WHIP. Following Tommy John surgery and with having never pitched at Triple-A, O's right-hander Tyler Wells has skipped a few steps along the way.

But for now, he’s about the best the Orioles can offer in an improving rotation.

A pitcher that was labeled by some as best suited for the bullpen, is now 6-2 with a 3.20 ERA that ranks 10th best in the American League and 20th in MLB. Over 81 2/3 innings he has allowed just 54 hits with 16 walks, 82 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.857.

And a good season has been getting even better. He pitched the Orioles to a series-clinching win over Toronto last Thursday. Over his past four starts he is 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA and .607 OPS against. He’s allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his 14 games.

His opponent batting average is .183 and there is one pitcher in the majors that can top that among qualifiers right now – Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani is also the only guy that allows fewer hits per nine innings than Wells at 5.95.

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In Chicago, the offense finally arrived as O's avoided the sweep


CHICAGO – It might feel like the Orioles have been struggling lately. They have, after all, lost back-to-back road series for the first time all year and they are 3-4 in their last seven series.

But by winning 6-3 Sunday at Wrigley Field over the Chicago Cubs, the Orioles avoided getting swept and have now won seven of their past 10 games. Yes, over that longer seven-series stretch they are 11-10. But even at a time when they are not winning at the same percentage as earlier and at a time when they are playing without Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle and yesterday Gunnar Henderson, they have won seven of 10 and have a better than .500 record while losing four of seven series.

Their offense was AWOL for most of Friday and Saturday, scoring five total runs. But a three-run sixth inning Sunday produced enough offense for a win. They did not get swept again – third time this season they lost the first two but won the third game of a series.

“Just keep going,” new outfielder Aaron Hicks said about avoiding the sweep. “Day-after-day, it’s a different day. To be able to turn the page and understand it’s a long season. In this game it’s all about winning series. If you lose the first two, make sure you get one out of there. That is kind of how you need to be, especially if you want to be a winning team and a team that goes far into the playoffs.”

Yep, keep grinding and get one win and they did.

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César Prieto, Justin Armbruester, Jud Fabian among a host of minor league promotions


CHICAGO – The Orioles minor league rosters are in for some big changes very soon. According to a club source, eight players are about to be promoted and they include five players currently ranked among the O’s top 30 prospects list via Baseball America.

Moving from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk are infielder César Prieto, right-handed pitcher Justin Armbruester and righty reliever Wandisson Charles.

Moving from High-A Aberdeen to Bowie are pitchers Alex Pham, Keagan Gillies and Jean Pinto and outfielder Jud Fabian.

Moving from Low Single-A Delmarva to Aberdeen is right-handed pitcher Juan Nunez.

Fabian is currently ranked as the Orioles’ No. 13 prospect by Baseball America and No. 15 via MLBPipeline.com. In 55 games with the IronBirds, he is batting .281/.392/.490/.882 with 13 doubles, nine homers, 35 runs, 19 steals and 43 RBIs. He was the No. 67 overall draft pick in 2022 out of the University of Florida.

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O's get three in sixth, rally to beat Cubs and avoid a sweep at Wrigley Field (updated)


CHICAGO – The Orioles showed up for the series finale at Wrigley Field today looking for some runs after scoring just five in the series' first two games, losing both. They knew they would again play without injured regulars Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle.

Shortly before gametime, they added Gunnar Henderson to the list of those they would be without. But at least this was not an injury. Manager Brandon Hyde told the Peacock broadcasters during the game that Henderson was not feeling well. He had recently missed a couple of games with a lower back issue, so that actually came as good news.

The news would get better mid-game on the way to a 6-3 Orioles win.

Trailing 3-2 to the top of the sixth, the Orioles put together their best rally of the weekend, scoring three runs on five hits to take a 5-3 lead. They won by that margin to salvage the final game of this series before Monday’s off-day and a series with first-place Tampa Bay that begins Tuesday.

Ryan O’Hearn started the go-ahead rally with a single off Cubs starter Jameson Taillon. Aaron Hicks doubled to deep right to put men on second and third, and a sac fly by Ramón Urías tied it 3-3. Lefty Anthony Kay came in from the Cubs’ bullpen and was greeted with Adam Frazier’s RBI single to center and an O’s 4-3 lead. That was just their second lead this series. Two batters later, Jorge Mateo’s RBI single made it 5-3 and sent another runner to third. But Mateo was thrown out trying to get to second.

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O's game blog: Looking to avoid the sweep at Wrigley Field

Kremer throwing

CHICAGO – The Orioles have not been swept in a three-game series this season, and they must win today at Wrigley Field to keep that stat intact.

The Chicago Cubs (33-37) have won the first two in this series by scores of 10-3 and 3-2. Both games were one-run games going into the later innings, but Chicago scored six runs in the sixth inning to blow it open Friday and they held on Saturday for the narrow win.

The Orioles are 43-27 (.614) at the 70-game mark. A team playing .614 ball over the full year would win 99.5 games. So we could round up and say they are still playing at a 100-win pace.

The Orioles were shut out into the fifth inning yesterday when Adley Rutschman mashed a game-tying two-run homer off lefty Justin Steele. Rutschman hit a 406-foot blast to left-center for his 10th homer. He and Kansas City’s Salvador Perez are the only catchers in the major leagues with 10 or more homers.

Over his past 18 games since May 26, Rutschman is batting .329 (24-for-73) with three doubles, three homers and six RBIs, and with an .881 OPS.

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Pregame notes from Wrigley Field on today's roster move and more (Henderson a scratch)

henderson swing home debut black

CHICAGO – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is hopeful that backup catcher James McCann, who went on the injured list today, will be back when his 10 days on the IL are up.

“We are hoping it is just going to be the 10 days,” Hyde said today about an hour before game time. “It’s an ankle sprain. He stayed in the game yesterday with that (left) ankle sprain, because he knew that I would have to put (Kyle) Gibson in the pitcher’s spot. Or in his spot to hit. So when his spot came around, that is when I hit for him (in the sixth inning). Went back there and caught a couple of innings with the sprain, so hats off to him. Shows the kind of competitor and teammate he is.”

The Orioles' second catcher today is a player who has only been in the organization a few weeks as they selected the contract of José Godoy, who was already here on the taxi squad. Reliever Reed Garrett was designated for assignment to make 40-man roster room for Godoy. The Orioles purchased Godoy’s contract from the New York Yankees on June 2.

Godoy, 28, from Maracaibo, Venezuela, is a lefty hitter and has played in 26 major league games in 2021 and 2022 with Seattle, Minnesota and Pittsburgh, batting .123/.194/.140/.334 with one double and four RBIs, going 7-for-57. He went a combined 1-for-20 last year for Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

Godoy, who was 6-for-21 this season for Triple-A Norfolk, is wearing No. 77.

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Ryan O'Hearn keeps raking for the Orioles (plus other O's notes)

o'hearn trots @ MIL

CHICAGO – To say the least, since they added him to their roster for the first time this year on April 13, Ryan O’Hearn has had an impact for the Orioles – both on the field and in the clubhouse, where the 29-year-old veteran fits in beautifully.

Few Orioles are swinging a hotter bat right now. Over 28 games, O’Hearn is batting .342/.384/.620/1.004 with seven doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs.

This after he hit .219 with a .683 OPS in 342 games since the 2018 season with Kansas City.

“Total pro. Gamer, loves to play, takes really good at-bats,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field. “Great in the clubhouse and dugout. Just doing a little bit of everything for us right now, and just the quality of his at-bats are really good.

“I think the experience he had in Kansas City, good and bad (helps now), and (he is) somebody that has always mashed in Triple-A. Kind of had some weird roles in Kansas City, and now (he's) in more of a defined role where he knows he’s got a good chance to be in there versus right-handed pitching. Or be a pinch-hit option. He’s really loving it here.”

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O's offense falls short in 3-2 loss to Cubs (updated)


CHICAGO – The Orioles came to Chicago riding a bit of a high. A series win over Toronto at home concluding a 5-1 homestand and they scored 42 runs in winning six of their previous seven games.

But their offense has been slowed by the Chicago Cubs in the first two games of this series at Wrigley Field, and the Orioles lost 3-2 today in front of 40,605 at the Friendly Confines to fall to 43-27.

O’s starter Kyle Gibson, an eight-game winner who was 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA his previous five starts, got his outing today started well. He fanned the first two hitters he faced in a 1-2-3 first inning on 15 pitches. He got two more strikeouts and retired the side in order in the home second.

But then the Cubs scored twice off him in the third to lead 2-0.

With one out, catcher Yan Gomes struck out on a sweeper, but he reached first on what was scored a wild pitch. When Mike Tauchman walked with two outs, second baseman Nico Hoerner came up and drilled an 0-1 two-seamer in the gap in left-center field. It went for a two-run double to break the 0-0 tie on a ball he hit 96.4 mph off the bat. Seiya Suzuki followed with a deep drive to center, but Aaron Hicks ran it down to retire the side.

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O's game blog: Kyle Gibson faces the Cubs in Game 2 of Wrigley Field series

gibson od fenway

CHICAGO – In May the Orioles had impressive series wins against the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in which they lost the first game of the series but won the next two. They will try to pull this off now in a series not involving an AL East club. 

They lost 10-3 at Wrigley Field to the Chicago Cubs (32-37) on Friday, and the clubs meet this afternoon in the second game of this series.

The Orioles had won six of their last seven games by a combined 42-20 score before they got thumped here in the series opener, falling to 16-7 in series-opening games and to 9-3 when the series opener is on the road. The Orioles are now 22-12 in road games.

The Cubs are playing better ball lately and have now won four in a row and six of their past seven games. Their four-game win streak ties their season high from April 16-19. The Cubs have scored 38 runs in those wins. It’s the first time they have scored 38 in a four-game span since April 21-24, 2021.

The Cubs had a six-run inning in Friday’s win. They now have an inning scoring four runs or more in four straight games for the first time since June 28-July 1, 2018.

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Chicago pregame notes on Mountcastle, the roster move and minor league promotions


CHICAGO – The Orioles have played without first baseman Ryan Mountcastle in the lineup since June 8. That was when the Orioles were in Milwaukee. He went on the injured list on June 13, retroactive to June 10, dealing with vertigo.

Mountcastle is here with the team in Chicago, took part in some pregame work yesterday and is doing the same today. On the 10-day IL, he could return as soon as Tuesday, when the Orioles play the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Orioles don’t yet know if Mountcastle will make it back for that series. But manager Brandon Hyde was encouraged by his pregame fielding and hitting work on Friday at Wrigley Field.

“Yep, he’s going to do that again today,” Hyde said earlier. “We’re kind of just re-evaluating every day and see what we’re going to do. But he’s going to hit again today and move around the field a little bit.

“Really just taking it day-to-day with him right now. He swung the bat extremely well yesterday in batting practice, with a bunch of balls onto Waveland. Hopefully he does that again today and feels good, and we’ll reassess every day.”

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While Hyde fondly remembers time with Cubs, Mancini does same about O's


CHICAGO – Another O’s series at Wrigley Field means another baseball homecoming for Orioles manger Brandon Hyde. He was with the Cubs from 2011 through 2018, first in their minor leagues and later as bench coach and first base coach for the Cubs.

When the Cubs won the 2016 World Series – their first WS win since 1908 – Hyde was manager Joe Maddon’s first base coach.

Now he is in his fifth year as manager of the Orioles, a team that, like those Cubs teams, went from bad to good with a lot of young talent.

“Always fun to come back here,” he said in the visiting dugout before Friday’s series-opening game. “Got to experience it last year. We played two good games here. Come back in a stadium with so many memories, such a special place. Spent ’12 to ’18 here and there are a lot really good memories I have of great teams and the good people I was around. Got to see a few of them today. Lot of them are gone. But this place is always going to be special.”

He learned a lot on the Cubs' watch and uses some of what he learned then now with the Orioles.

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Early homers, big inning lead Cubs to a romp in the series opener (updated)


CHICAGO – The Orioles had been good this year both on the road and in series-opening games, but that combination did not lead to a win today at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Playing better baseball after a three-game sweep this week of National League Central-leading Pittsburgh, the Cubs hit three homers this afternoon in one inning off Baltimore lefty Cole Irvin and then had one big inning later versus the O’s bullpen in a 10-3 win over the Orioles.

The Cubs (32-37) won for sixth time in seven games as a big crowd of 37,515 cheered them on in the opener of the weekend series. Chicago is 10-7 the last 17 games.

The Birds had scored 42 runs in winning six of their past seven games, but did not score big today in the opening game of their five-game road trip.

The Orioles fall to 43-26 overall, to 21-13 in road games, to 16-7 in series openers, to 9-3 in road series openers and to 6-11 all-time against the Cubs.

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O's game blog: The road trip begins in the series opener at Wrigley Field

irvin pitches orange

CHICAGO – The Orioles enjoyed a successful homestand, going 5-1 against Kansas City and Toronto. They swept the Royals and took two of three from Toronto, winning a fifth straight American League East series.

The Orioles lost their first two AL East series of this year, but have now gone 11-4 in winning their last five. They beat Toronto 4-2 Thursday to win the rubber-match game and improve to 43-25.

The Orioles are 5-1 this season versus Toronto by a combined 36-21 score. They are 14-11 against the Blue Jays since the start of the 2022 season.

The Orioles are now 8-4 in June and they are 9-5 in 14 games since Cedric Mullins got injured.

In winning six of their past seven games overall, the Orioles have scored 42 runs, producing hits in double digits five times in that span.

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Chicago pregame notes and Trey Mancini's appreciation for O's winning ways


CHICAGO - As the Orioles play the Chicago Cubs today to start a three-game series at Wrigley Field, manager Brandon Hyde expects to see a good number of Orioles fans in the stands.

That was the case last July 12-13 when the O's swept a two-game series at Wrigley.

"We are traveling well," Hyde said pregame in the visitors' dugout. "I'm loving the way our fans are traveling. It's been a lot of fun on the road to see and to hear during the anthem. That's when you notice it the most, honestly, during the anthem. I've been pleasantly surprised. The way they are showing up for us on the road has been awesome."

Hyde provided a brief update on first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who went on the 10-day injured list Tuesday due to vertigo.

"He is starting to feel a little bit better," Hyde said. "But he's still a little bit under the weather."

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O's notes on AL East success, quality starts and more as Wrigley Field awaits


CHICAGO – The Orioles lost their first two American League East series of the 2023 season with series losses to Boston and the New York. They have not lost a series in the division since then.

Their 4-2 win over Toronto on Thursday afternoon in Baltimore gave the Orioles another rubber match game win, another series win and another AL East series win.

They are now 11-4 in five straight AL East series wins against in order Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto, New York and Toronto. They have at least one series win against every other team in the division during the AL East series win streak.

As the latest Orioles road trip begins this afternoon at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field and the Orioles play the Chicago Cubs, the team will again this weekend call on its depth to help win games.

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver called it “deep depth” and the 2023 Orioles are showing some of that.

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O's game blog: Looking for a victory in the series and homestand finale

jorge mateo swings grey

The Orioles (42-25) host the Blue Jays (38-31) today to wrap up a three-game series and a six-game homestand. The homestand began with the Orioles sweeping Kansas City and now they have split the first two games of this series.

Baltimore scored 11 runs each on Sunday and Tuesday, but where held to just six hits - all singles - last night in a 3-1 loss to Toronto. That result ended the Orioles' win streak at five in a row, two short of their season high. They fall to 4-1 this year against Toronto and to 13-11 versus the Blue Jays since the beginning of the 2022 season.

Toronto, which has won nine of 13 of and is 12-6 its past 18 games, is now 18-8 in its past 26 games at Oriole Park.

The Orioles are 6-4 in rubber match games and 3-2 when that game is against an AL East opponent. They have won three in a row within the division with rubber match wins over Boston, Tampa Bay and New York.

In their first four games this season against Toronto, Baltimore batters had produced 31 runs. But last night the Orioles were held without an extra-base hit for the third time this season. That also happened April 8 against the Yankees and June 7 against the Brewers.

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Adam Frazier on his long-ball production so far in 2023


O's second baseman Adam Frazier’s career high for home runs is 10. He has eight already in 2023 and at his current pace would finish with 19 or 20. He hit three last year with Seattle in 156 games. Now he has eight in 67 team games of which he has played in 65.

What gives? Why has Frazier hit this many homers already?

“Really just using my body the right way,” he said yesterday in the Baltimore clubhouse. “I have always tried to keep it simple but been a little more handsy in the past. Flicked the ball all over the field. Now I’m (staying) on my backside more and using the big muscles to hit the ball maybe more so than arms and hands. So, that is where I’m at right now using the bigger muscles and the hips are able to work better.”

Frazier averaged one homer every 180 at-bats last year and one every 140 at-bats over the last two years. When he hit a career-high 10 homers in 2018, he hit one every 31.8 at-bats and he hit 10 the following year with one every 55.4 at-bats. Now he is hitting one every 26.5 at-bats.

He said the subtle changes he made were a collaboration of thoughts from the O’s hitting coaches and some of his own.

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