O's drop trip opener, Henderson's great double play, Walker remembers time with O's

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PHOENIX - On night one of a three-city, nine-game road trip, the O's offense fell flat but Gunnar Henderson reminded us why he has become the leading contender in the eyes of many for American League Rookie of the Year.

Playing shortstop, Henderson, running with his back to the infield, made an over-the-shoulder catch in the last of the fourth and then threw home to double up Corbin Carroll, who tagged up at third and tried to score. 

One Rookie of the Year candidate nabbed another. 

“He’s one of the best rookies in the game right now," O's starter Cole Irvin said. "He’s just exciting to watch. Brings the energy, plays hard. I think if there is any time Gunnar showed who he is, it’s when he could have had the cycle (needing only a single to complete the cycle, Henderson nonetheless went to second on his hit into the right field corner in the Orioles' 12-1 win over the Athletics on Aug. 20). He plays hard and plays the right way. He’s definitely awesome to have."

Henderson made the play yesterday sound easy. It was far from that.

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Former O's lead the way as Arizona takes series opener from Orioles (updated)

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PHOENIX - The Orioles haven't lost often this year when scoring first and when playing the opening game of a road series.

They did both tonight but lost 4-2 at Arizona to start the regular season's final month and begin an important nine-game road trip.

Former Orioles Zach Davies and Christian Walker helped beat the Orioles in front of 18,248 at Chase Field as Baltimore fell to 83-51 and missed a chance to move 2.5 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost to Cleveland.

Each team scored in the first inning, which ended with Arizona leading the Orioles 2-1.

Against right-hander Davies, the Orioles’ 26th round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, the Birds got a one-out single in the first from Gunnar Henderson and he advanced to second on a groundout. With two men out, he scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s RBI single to center. It was RBI No. 46 for O’Hearn, a .306 hitter with runners in scoring position.

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O's game blog: The opener of the road trip at Arizona

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PHOENIX – Just 12 days after ending a nine-game West Coast road trip, the Orioles are about to begin another. This one will end back East at Fenway Park, but it starts tonight at Chase Field against the Arizona Diamondbacks and continues Monday in Anaheim, Calif. at the Los Angeles Angels.

The first-place Orioles (83-50) have been a strong road team this year and are 41-24 in road games and 13-6-2 in road series. They are 16-5 in road series-opening games.

They have a better win percentage on the road (.631) than at home (.618, 42-26).

The Orioles are coming off a 6-3 homestand where they went 2-1 each against Toronto, Colorado and the Chicago White Sox.

Despite a 10-5 loss to the White Sox Wednesday afternoon, the Orioles finished August going 18-9 and they are 29-15 in the second half. They have won six of eight, nine of 12 and 20 of the last 29 games. Their 18 wins in August, matched their win total from April when they were also 18-9.

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Cowser and Krehbiel rejoin O's in Arizona while Hicks nears return and Means rolls at Norfolk

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PHOENIX - Two players who spent time on the Orioles roster earlier this year officially returned to the team today as the September roster expanded from 26 to 28 players. Outfielder Colton Cowser and right-handed reliever Joey Krehbiel are back.

Cowser was the O’s top draft pick, taken No. 5 overall, in the 2021 MLB Draft. Krehbiel, 30, was a big part of the 2022 Orioles bullpen, going 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.231 WHIP.

"Honestly, really encouraged with how Joey was throwing the ball in Triple-A," manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon in the visitor's dugout at Chase Field. "Some really good appearances as of late and threw the ball well for us in a few brief moments this year. And Colton, just kind of where we are from an outfield standpoint, a health standpoint, have a lot of guys that have played a lot of innings out there. He adds outfield depth with a guy that can play all three spots. We thought that was important."

Hyde was asked if Cowser will be up for the rest of the season?

"I think we're day-to-day right now with everybody," he said. 

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Talking offense with O's co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller

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PHOENIX – In his fourth year in the O’s organization, Ryan Fuller, 33, is in his second season on the major league staff. He is co-hitting coach, working alongside Matt Borgschulte and offensive strategy coach Cody Asche.

The trio is there to prepare, provide scouting reports, help and work with O’s hitters in any ways they can to make them better.

The Orioles rank fourth in the American League scoring 4.98 runs per game. They trail only Texas, Tampa Bay and Houston in those rankings.

Fuller was interviewed this week on the Orioles Radio Network for the pregame show and was asked if the coaches have some hitting philosophies that pertain to every O’s hitter?

“Our cornerstones from the DR (Dominican Republic) all the way to the big leagues is control the zone,” said Fuller. “Positive swing decisions. If you do that it is going to lead to constant contact and if you have contact on pitches in zone, it’s going to lead to damage. And those extra-base hits and game-changing swings.

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After playing .667 ball during homestand, O's hit the road again for the West Coast

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The Orioles have two three-game sweeps in their past eight series. On the homestand that ended Wednesday afternoon, it was close to being four of the last eight.

They won the first two games against Colorado but did not sweep and won the first two by a combined 18-3 score against the Chicago White Sox but did not sweep. 

But they won all three series and went 6-3 on the homestand. As they headed for a flight to Phoenix after yesterday's game, their lead was two games over the Rays pending Tampa Bay's result last night. 

Their lead was two games when the homestand started. The Rays are playing good baseball right now, but so are the Orioles.

"I think you look at a 6-3 homestand, we won all three series, so never going to complain about that, you feel good about that," said Orioles' manager Brandon Hyde.

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O's game blog: Going for a sweep to end a nine-game homestand

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With victories by 9-0 and 9-3 in this series, the Orioles can record a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a win this afternoon at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (83-49), who matched last year's win total with last night's win, lead the American League East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay.

Baltimore has won all three series on this homestand and would finish 7-2 with a win today. They are seeking their ninth series sweep and their eighth in a three-game series. 

This season, the Orioles have three-game series sweeps versus Detroit, at Toronto, versus Kansas City, at Minnesota, at home against Miami, versus the New York Mets and at Oakland. A sweep today would give the Orioles their third sweep in the last eight series.

The Orioles are now 27-13-3 in series play for the year and 14-7-1 in home series.

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O's match 2022 win total with 30 games left in win over the Chicago White Sox

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The Orioles turned it into a late blowout last night but for six innings they were either tied or trailed the Chicago White Sox. But they scored three in the seventh and five in the eighth to beat the White Sox 9-3.

It was a win that equaled their 2022 win total when they went 83-79. Now the Orioles are 83-49 with 30 games to go. If they finish 15-15, they will win 98 games. They need a 17-13 finish to win 100 games for the first time since 1980.

The Orioles win percentage for the year is .629 and they need play at just .567 (17-13) to win 100.

The Orioles have outscored Chicago 18-3 in this series and by 13-2 runs from the seventh inning on of the two games.

They are 34 games over the .500 mark for the first time since 1997.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win against the White Sox

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The Orioles won the first two series on this homestand against the Blue Jays (2-1) and the Rockies (2-1). After their 9-0 win last night against the White Sox, they will secure yet another series win with a victory tonight at Camden Yards.

The Orioles are 26-13-3 in series this season and are 13-7-1 in home series.

The win Monday night improved the Orioles' record to 29-14 in series-opening games and White Sox falls to 12-31 in such games.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez pitched six scoreless on one hit in the win Monday. He and three relievers teamed on a four-hitter for the Orioles' ninth shutout of the season. It was the club's fifth shutout in the last 29 games. 

Orioles starting pitchers have an ERA of 2.63 over their past nine games. And O's starters have allowed three earned runs or less in 25 of the last 29 games. Their ERA in those 25 games is 2.72.

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Coulombe's strong season continues as 'pen tries to overcome Bautista's injury

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As they continue to navigate life in the Orioles bullpen for now without closer Félix Bautista, the Orioles relievers are going to do their best to overcome this loss. But they know this pitcher can’t be easily replaced – if at all.

“I think it’s going to give some guys an opportunity to step up,” said bullpen lefty Danny Coulombe in an interview last night on the Orioles Radio Network. “Obviously you cannot replace him, but we are going to have to step up and move on. We’re going to have to.

“Not only is Bautista a great pitcher, but a great guy too. We love him in the clubhouse. Hard to lose a guy with the year he was having. He is my vote for Cy Young – at least in the top five.”

But maybe the bullpen is better positioned now to withstand this injury than it would have been earlier in the season. Coulombe has returned from the injured list. DL Hall has arrived. Yennier Cano recently threw 11 straight scoreless appearances. Jacob Webb has an ERA of 1.86 as an Oriole. Cionel Pérez has not allowed an earned run his last 12 outings. Shintaro Fujinami has thrown four straight scoreless games.

“Yeah, absolutely,” said Coulombe of the ‘pen’s recent performance. “We’re going to do the best we can and just take it pitch-by-pitch and day-by-day and hopefully keep having success.”

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O's game blog: The homestand continues against the Chicago White Sox

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The Orioles have won the first two series they’ve played on this nine-game homestand that continues tonight at Oriole Park as the O’s host the Chicago White Sox for the first of a three-game series.

The Orioles (81-49) have 32 games remaining in the 2023 regular season and begin play tonight leading the Tampa Bay Rays by two games atop the American League East. Tampa Bay, off tonight, begins a series with Miami on Tuesday night.

The Orioles have won four of five, seven of nine, 18 of 26 and 32 of their past 46 games. They are 40-25 at home and 27-14 in the second half. After Sunday’s one-run loss to Colorado, they still lead the majors in win percentage in games decided by one or two runs.

MLB team leaders, one and two-run games:

.678 – Orioles (40-19)

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Hall got the ball Saturday, proving his velocity has come all the way back

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Orioles' lefty DL Hall has not thrown too many pitches as a big leaguer. But two he threw against the Colorado Rockies Saturday night, in a scoreless inning, must have had some meaning for him.

He threw one pitch 98.8 mph and another at 98.9. In 17 2/3 career innings, those were his two fastest big league pitches.

It showed that Hall, 24, has his velocity all the way back. He had seen it come together well for him at the Triple-A level in recent games, but to do so in front of a huge crowd and protect a lead Saturday night for the Orioles represented a nice return to the majors for Hall.

“Unreal feeling to be back up here and be with this awesome team,” he said of that outing.

A back issue in spring limited Hall then and when his season began the velocity was not as expected. The Orioles sent him to Florida in mid June to, for a time, pitch less and more work on rebuilding some strength.

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No sweep: Colorado scores in the ninth to beat the Orioles

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The Orioles have not been swept in their past 81 series dating to last year. But today their bid to record their ninth sweep of 2023 came up short.

The Colorado Rockies pushed an unearned run across the plate in the top of the ninth to beat the Orioles 4-3 in front of 30,773 at Oriole Park.

Baltimore's four-game win streak came to an end, and the Orioles are now 81-49 after their 12th one-run loss in 36 such games.

Righty Yennier Cano, who got a save last night, came on for the ninth today, but this time in a 3-3 tie.

Hunter Goodman's grounder went for an infield single and he reached second on a throwing error charged to shortstop Gunnar Henderson. He moved to third with one out and the infield came in. But on pinch-hitter Elias Díaz's hi-chop grounder to third, there was no play at home. The out produced the go-ahead run and what turned out to be winning run. Cano took the loss. 

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O's game blog: Looking for the series sweep against Colorado

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The Orioles wrap up their series with the Colorado Rockies today looking for a three-game sweep after back-to-back 5-4 wins. They trailed in each game of this series but took the lead in the eighth inning Friday night and in the sixth inning last night. 

The Orioles (81-48) lead Tampa Bay by three games atop the American League East with Toronto 10 1/2 games back, Boston 12 1/2 out and New York 19 games behind.

This season, the Orioles have three-game series sweeps versus Detroit, at Toronto, versus Kansas City, at Minnesota, at home against Miami, versus the New York Mets and at Oakland. A sweep today would give the Orioles their third sweep in the last seven series.

The Orioles have won four straight by a 22-11 score. Over longer stretches, they have won seven of eight, 10 of 13, 18 of 25 and 32 of their past 45 games.

The Orioles recorded their 40th comeback win Saturday, tied for the MLB lead this season (Cincinnati, 40), and their 76 come-from-behind wins since the start of 2022 are second-most behind Los Angeles-NL (81) entering play yesterday, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

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Pregame notes on Flaherty's return to rotation and Hall's return to roster

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As the Orioles look to sweep the Colorado Rockies today, right-hander Jack Flaherty will return to the mound for the first time since he gave up seven runs in three innings Aug. 15 at San Diego. He is pitching the series finale today on 11 days' rest.

Flaherty is 8-8 with a 4.73 ERA in 23 starts this season and is 1-2 with a 7.07 ERA in three starts and 14 innings as an Oriole.

“I think his command in San Diego was just off, so I don’t think you can put a whole lot of stock into that start. I think the start in Toronto (one run in six innings) is more of who he is. Just couldn’t get anything going in San Diego,” manager Brandon Hyde said before today’s game.

“Jack has a really good pitch, was up to 97 (mph) in Toronto. I like his breaking ball, also. He’s been a starter with a four-pitch mix for a while now. Maybe a little bit of rest will help him and he’ll be pounding the strike zone today.”

This outing has been pushed back by the Orioles as Flaherty said he didn’t “bounce back” well from that San Diego game without getting too much into specifics.

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Yennier Cano gets first save shot with Félix Bautista on the injured list

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On the day the Orioles found out they've lost their closer for an indefinite period, you had to figure this game – played in front of a huge crowd – would be close in the late innings.

Maybe with the Orioles leading by a run late and needing to protect that lead.

Yep.

With Félix Bautista now on the injured list while we await word on just how long he will be out, Yennier Cano got the first save chance in his absence. 

The news about Bautista hit the team hard Friday night and certainly lingered into last night's game.

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish on the mound in Game 2 versus Colorado

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After their latest win and latest victory in a close game Friday night, the Orioles can win another series with a victory tonight at home against Colorado.

Baltimore (80-48) begins play tonight leading Tampa Bay by three games atop the American League East. The Orioles have won six of seven, 17 of 24 and 31 of their last 44 games.

Their 5-4 Friday win over the Rockies improved the Orioles' record to 23-11 in one-run games, and they have now gone 81 straight series without being swept.

The O's have scored 48 runs the last seven games and hit 12 homers their past six games.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (8-6, 3.03 ERA) will make his 24th start tonight for the Orioles, who are 15-8 in his games this year, winning his last four starts.

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With concern over their closer the O's pull out another one, extend AL East lead

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The anticipation was high and the crowd was roaring. The Orioles were one strike away from their 80th win and Félix Bautista - their All-Star closer - was one away from his 34th save.

This was usually where he blows a fastball by someone or buries a split for a swinging third strike to send Camden Yards into a frenzy.

But this time the game did not end, but Bautista's outing did as Camden Yards went from very loud to very quiet in a very short span.

So for now we wait for further word on Bautista and his arm discomfort. We await word on the tests manager Brandon Hyde said they would do to further examine Bautista.

Before the pitch that put a damper on an otherwise good night, the Orioles did a lot right late in the game to pull out their 80th win.

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O's game blog: The series opener with Colorado

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After the Orioles (79-48) won a series against Toronto – taking the last two games after losing the series opener – they host Colorado to begin a new series tonight. The Rockies are in town through Sunday and the homestand continues Monday versus the Chicago White Sox.

Colorado just lost three games at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Rockies (48-79) have lost four in a row overall and 11 of their past 14 games. They have the worst record in the National League. All three losses versus Tampa Bay were last at-bat losses, and the Rockies have been in the lead or tied for the lead in the eighth inning in each game of their four-game losing streak.

Colorado is 20-46 on the road, 15-22 in interleague games and 14-22 in the second half.

The Rockies are now a season-low 31 games below .500. It's the fifth time in franchise history the club has been at least 30 games below .500, the first time since 2014. The franchise record for games below .500 is 38, when the Rockies were 36-74 on Aug. 7, 1993.

The Rockies have used a franchise record 32 total pitchers this season, one more than the 2019 club’s 31 hurlers. Colorado ranks 29th in MLB with a 5.57 team ERA and is 29th in rotation ERA (5.93) and 27th in bullpen ERA (5.14). Colorado's road ERA of 5.06 ranks 27th in the majors.  

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Increased slider usage has helped Yennier Cano get back locked in for the O's

Yennier Cano

He has been so good for the Orioles bullpen this year, but there was a stretch a few weeks back when right-hander Yennier Cano was more hittable.

Heading into a series in late July with the New York Yankees, Cano went through a 10-game stretch where his ERA was 5.00 and opponents were batting .368 with an OPS of 1.000 against him.

It was then that Cano decided to tweak a pitch mix that mostly has been about two pitches – a two-seam sinking fastball and changeup – and make it now three.

“Think the biggest difference has been incorporating my slider,” he said yesterday with the help of O’s interpreter Brandon Quinones, talking about his recent strong pitching. “When they were hitting me better, I was going through some adjustments to incorporate my slider and then figured some of those things out. Now that I have a much better feel for it and have the slider more down pat, it’s more difficult for the hitters to get a read on me now that that pitch is in the repertoire.”

For the year, Cano is 1-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 0.984 WHIP in 57 games and 61 innings. 

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