Orioles lineup at Toronto

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TORONTO – The Orioles' latest road trip – an all American League East affair – begins tonight at Rogers Centre as the Toronto Blue Jays (25-19) host the Orioles (28-16) to start a three-game series.

The Orioles just split a four-game series with the Los Angles Angels while Toronto was losing three of four to the New York Yankees at home.

Tonight's lineup shows rookie Joey Ortiz making his first MLB start at third base. Ortiz has eight career starts on the farm at third base, two this year for Triple-A Norfolk, two last year and four in the 2021 season. 

Tampa Bay (32-13) is leading the division by 3 1/2 games over the Orioles, by 6 1/2 over Toronto and New York and by 7 1/2 over Boston.

The Orioles went 2-8 in Toronto in 2021 and 5-5 last year.

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Gibson on Grayson: "We all know how good he is"


He was never ranked as the No. 1 pitching prospect in all of minor league baseball, but he was a top 100 prospect for several years coming up through the Minnesota Twins' farm system. And right-hander Kyle Gibson, a first-round draft pick in 2009 and the oldest member of the Baltimore clubhouse at 35, provided a strong endorsement this week for his rotation mate, Grayson Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 23, currently is the No. 1 pitching prospect and ranked No. 4 overall in the top 100 by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLBPipeline.com.

But in his most recent outing Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, he gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is 2-1 with a 6.57 ERA on the year, allowing an opponent OPS of .923. At times opponents have hit his fastball hard.

But Gibson, known to be a great and supportive teammate, will let you know he sees big things ahead for Rodriguez. He said that while the right-hander looks for most consistency with his pitches, another thing he needs to do right now is block out the outside noise. Maybe easy to say and harder to do since Gibson is aware some fans are questioning whether Rodriguez is all he was said to be as a top prospect.

Not an easy place to be for a young pitcher who awaits a start tomorrow afternoon in Toronto against a quality lineup.

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O's game blog: Looking for another series victory

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As the Orioles look to win the finale of a four-game series this afternoon against the Los Angeles Angels, they send the pitcher to the mound that has been their most consistent starter this year. 

Right-hander Tyler Wells (3-1, 2.68 ERA) will make his ninth appearance and eighth start. He leads the majors in WHIP at 0.723, and his ERA ranks eighth-best among qualifying pitchers in the American League.

The Orioles are 6-2 in Wells' outings this year, and they won 2-0 on Saturday at Oriole Park versus Pittsburgh when he pitched a gem. Over seven scoreless innings he allowed one hit with two walks and eight strikeouts on 96 pitches. It was his second outing of seven scoreless this season – he also did that April 21 versus Detroit.

In his past two starts – against Atlanta and Pittsburgh – he has pitched 12 innings, allowing four hits and one run.

Wells has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his starts, throwing two quality starts. In four home games, he is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 0.8701 WHIP.

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Gunnar Henderson said Jackson Holliday's Aberdeen start shows he is "special hitter"


Not only is 19-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday tearing it up in his first full pro season, but he is closing in on being ranked the top prospect in baseball, something that the Orioles' Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson did before him.

In the latest and updated rankings, Holliday is now No. 3 in the top 100 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 6 via Baseball America.

This week he has shown the baseball world those rankings are well earned in his brief pro career.

He had a monster game on Tuesday night for High-A Aberdeen at Winston-Salem. In a game shortened by five innings due to rain he went 3-for-3 and drove in six runs. Last night he drove in five more. And he went 5-for-6, finally making an out on a liner to left in the ninth. He scored four runs and had five RBIs.

In the two games this week he has gone a remarkable 8-for-9 with two doubles, three triples, a homer, six runs scored and 11 RBIs. Amazing.

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O's game blog: Looking for another win over the Los Angeles Angels

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If the Orioles want to win another series, they are going to need two wins the next two days in this four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. They have split the first two, with Baltimore winning 7-3 last night.

The Orioles (27-15) remain 4.5 games behind Tampa Bay, which won again Tuesday night. Overall, the Orioles are 5-3 on this 10-game homestand; they are 14-7 in home games for the season and 9-2 in their last 11 games versus the Angels.

They have won five of the last seven games, 10 of 16, 18 of their past 26 and 23 of the last 33 games.

In two games this series, their offense has hit five homers, scoring 12 runs on 15 hits. But over the past nine games, the Orioles have scored 28 runs, or just 3.1 per game. Baltimore batters have hit five homers in two games and seven in the last four. The O’s have gone 10 straight games without a game of 10 hits or more.

But the O’s pitching has been solid over the past 11 games dating back to the start of their series at Atlanta, with a team ERA of 3.05 during that span. The O’s pitching staff has allowed 28 runs the past nine games (with a 2.70 team ERA), and 37 in the last 11. The rotation ERA is 3.56 in this 11-game stretch, with five quality starts. The Orioles are 10-1 this season when they get a quality start.

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Cionel Pérez is starting to regain his 2022 form in O's bullpen

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Lefty reliever Cionel Pérez, who posted a 1.40 ERA and 1.162 WHIP for the Orioles last year, believes his 2023 season is now back on track.

The latest example of that potential was his scoreless two innings in last night's win over the Los Angeles Angels. He fanned two over the seventh and eighth innings, retiring six batters on 19 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 3.78 in 19 games this year. 

“Felt really good. Think the results in this last month have been a lot better. Slowly but surely been feeling really good,” Pérez said today in the Baltimore clubhouse through team interpreter Brandon Quinones.

“Just been about consistent hard work,” he said. “It’s a long season, so you are bound to run into a couple of things here and there. But as long as we continue working hard, working with the pitching coaches to get things right, those things start to pay off little by little.”

His command has gotten better as the season has gone along. Over his last nine games, his ERA is 2.25. In April, he gave up an opponent batting average of .419 with an OPS of 1.068. In May, those numbers are .174/.469.

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The 'pen was good again in latest O's win, plus other notes


The Orioles got back on the horse with a 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels last night. Back-to-back losses didn't turn into the club's second three-game losing streak of 2023.

And while starter Dean Kremer provided a solid outing, allowing three runs over 5 2/3 on 95 pitches, the bullpen put forth another scoreless effort.

Right-hander Bryan Baker did allow an inherited runner to score, but Baker, Cionel Pérez and Yennier Cano did not allow a run over 3 1/3 innings. Baker has allowed just one earned run his last 19 2/3 innings. Perez retired all six batters he faced over the seventh and eighth innings on just 19 pitches. He has allowed one earned run his past 6 2/3. Cano pitched a 1-2-3 ninth on eight pitches and now has thrown 20 2/3 scoreless innings for the season.

Over the past five games, the O's 'pen has an ERA of 0.60. Over the last nine games, the 'pen ERA is 1.34. For the year the bullpen ERA is 2.94 to rank second in MLB.

Batting ninth, Ryan O'Hearn hit a solo homer in the second inning. And then Ryan Mountcastle pinch-hit for him and hit a two-run shot in the sixth that he blasted 433 feet.

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O's game blog: Dean Kremer faces the Angels in Game 2 of series

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Last night, the Los Angeles Angels joined the Tampa Bay Rays as the second team this year to win a series-opening game against the Orioles. The Birds are now 12-2 in such games. The Angels 9-5 win was led by Shohei Ohtani, who gave up three home runs on the mound but hit a three-run homer at bat as part of a 4-for-5 game where he came up a double short of the cycle.

Adam Frazier and Anthony Santander hit two-run homers off Ohtani and Cedric Mullins added a solo shot. In two career starts against the Orioles, Ohtani has allowed nine runs in 12 innings and has given up six homers, including two each to Mullins and Santander. His five runs allowed last night tied his season high.

But the O’s starter, rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, allowed nine hits and eight runs over 3 1/3 innings. That is the most runs allowed by a Baltimore starting pitcher this year. Coming into this series, O’s starters had a 1.74 ERA their previous eight games, allowing two earned runs or less seven times.

The Orioles bullpen allowed just a single run over 5 2/3 innings last night. The Baltimore bullpen has a 1.48 ERA (five ER/30.1 IP) over the last eight games.

Best bullpen ERAs in MLB in 2023

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Cole Irvin on Triple-A time and his return to the Orioles

irvin and rutschman

After starting the year with the Orioles and giving up 15 runs and 17 hits over 12 2/3 innings his first three starts, lefty Cole Irvin, 29, found himself back in Triple-A. This was the first time he made more than one start in the minors since 2019.

With an 0-2 record, 10.66 ERA and 1.97 WHIP, the club decided that he needed a reboot. And he got it with the Norfolk Tides. He returns to the O’s roster today, and for now will work out of a bullpen role.

“Yeah, I got away from doing what I know how to do best, which is throwing sinkers down at the bottom of the zone and changeups. Got back to some good pitch mixes and got back to good locations. So, yeah, here to do a job and I’ll be prepared to do it,” Irvin said today of his stay in Norfolk.

He went 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in five starts with the Tides. 

“It is part of the process,” he said. “When you have options, teams are going to use them when they have them. If you are not performing well that is just what happens in our game. It’s part of my job, part of our work, and my process is to keep my head down, keep working and get back. So, here we are.”

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Grayson's struggles, a player's take on the Bird Bath zone and minor league honors


The Orioles have faced Los Angeles Angels' pitcher Shohei Ohtani twice now and each time they hit three home runs off the pitcher who joins only Babe Ruth as players in MLB history with 500 or more pitcher strikeouts and 100 or more homers at-bat.

And on a night he would allow five runs in seven innings, Ohtani still got the win, thanks in part to his bat in the Angels’ 9-5 win in the series opener at Oriole Park.

Ohtani went 4-for-5 with a walk and his night included a triple, two singles and three-run homer that broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the fourth. His night did not include a double or he would have been the first pitcher in MLB history to hit for the cycle. As it was, he is the first to reach safely five times as a player that began the game as a pitcher since the Yankees’ Mel Stottlemyre on Sept. 26, 1964, at the Washington Senators.

Ohtani’s three-run shot was pivotal, and he crushed a first pitch curveball off Grayson Rodriguez that found the middle of the plate. That blast traveled 456 feet and marks his furthest-hit home run of the season, and his second hardest-hit ball of the season with an exit velocity of 114.6 mph. It tied for the longest home run hit at Oriole Park this year (Ryan Mountcastle hit one that far on April 11 versus Oakland) and is the longest by an opponent since the Yankees’ Aaron Judge crushed one 456 on July 24, 2022. Ohtani recorded his fourth multi-hit game this month and has driven in a run in three straight games and four of his last five; has 11 RBIs in 12 games this month.

Rodriguez, who gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings on May 4 at Kansas City, bounced back from that game to allow just two runs over 5 2/3 in his last start against Tampa Bay. But then last night he got hit hard and gave up eight runs and nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. In his past three outings, Rodriguez has allowed seven home runs in 12 2/3 innings.

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O's game blog: O's face Shohei Ohtani in series opener with LAA

rodriguez home debut

The Orioles, who are 10-3 in series this year, open a new one tonight at home versus the Los Angeles Angels. It is a four-game series that will wrap up a 10-game homestand.

The Orioles lost Sunday to Pittsburgh, but took two of three over the weekend and are 9-1 in their last 10 series since April 10, losing a set only to Atlanta.

The Orioles have reached the 40-game mark at 26-14 (.650) and begin play today four games behind Tampa Bay for the best record in the majors. They have the second-best record in the bigs and are playing at a 105-win pace.

Orioles pitching has allowed just 16 runs in the last seven games and 25 in the last nine, pitching to a 2.40 ERA in that span. O’s starting pitchers have a 2.26 ERA the past nine games, allowing two earned runs or fewer seven times, with five quality starts in that span.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-0, 5.08 ERA) has yet to throw six innings in the majors but came darn close Tuesday against Tampa Bay. He went 5 2/3, allowing seven hits and two runs in one of his best starts this season. He used his fastball just 31 percent of the time in that start, but it had some nice life, averaging 97.4 mph. He threw his changeup 26 percent and cutter 20 percent.

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The Orioles talk about matchup tonight with "an international superstar"

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The only other time right-hander Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has pitched against the Orioles was on Aug. 25, 2021, also at Camden Yards. He would not get a decision but he would allow four runs on five hits, including three homers, over five innings in a game the Orioles won 10-6.

The Orioles were on their way to 110 losses and that night ended a 19-game losing streak. Yep, times have changed around here.

But Cedric Mullins was the leadoff hitter in that game as he will be tonight. In 2021, he hit Ohtani’s first pitch of the game for a home run and went 2-for-3. Anthony Santander went 2-for-2 with a homer and DJ Stewart also homered on the first pitch that night.

“On our side, it was being aggressive,” Mullins remembered of the earlier game against Ohtani. “Being aggressive on the first pitch. Put a great swing on it and sent one out, got the guys on the board early. After that it’s about staying in your zone. He’s a great pitcher and it is one of those days where you are in for a battle and will try to come out on top.”

So yeah, Mullins said the Orioles, who this year are doing a good job working counts and taking pitches with solid plate discipline, may choose to be more aggressive against Ohtani, who is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 12.9 strikeout rate. His .143 opponent average against ranks first in the major leagues. He is fifth in strikeouts and WHIP.

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Yennier Cano: Spring training decision has helped produced big results


It was seemingly just another weekday spring training game. For the Orioles it was Game No. 6 of their spring schedule on March 2 in Lakeland, Fla. at Joker Marchant Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers. Right-hander Yennier Cano came on to pitch in the last of the seventh, but the inning would unravel on him fast.

He gave up a triple, a single, two steals and then a double. His line from that day showed 2/3 of an inning allowing four hits and four runs and one homer. After two spring outings, Cano's ERA was 21.60.

We didn’t know it then, but that was last time this season – spring training or regular season – to this point that Cano allowed a run. Yep, March 2.

He made a decision that day that has paid off big time.

Throwing then from two distinct arm slots, one more over the top and another from a lower slot, he decided one would be better. He would scrap using the more over the top arm slot.

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

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After 6-3 and 2-0 wins this weekend, the Orioles (26-13) can complete their third series sweep of the year this afternoon at Oriole Park when they host the Pittsburgh Pirates (21-19).

Tyler Wells went seven innings Saturday night, allowing just one hit as Baltimore recorded its fourth straight win and fourth 2023 shutout. The Orioles begin today three games back of Tampa Bay for first in the American League East, and have won 17 of their past 23, 20 of 27 and 22 of 30.

Baltimore pitching has been on an eight-game roll:

* The team ERA is 2.21 over those eight games with 21 runs allowed.

* The rotation ERA is 1.74 in that span, allowing two earned runs or less seven times.

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Wells leads latest strong pitching game and Henderson appreciates organization's support

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Most teams are losing series against the Orioles these days except for Atlanta, but everyone else they've played since April 10. Over a month into the season, the Orioles have won nine of their last 10 series after their latest win last night. 

They blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 for the team’s fourth shutout of 2023. Tyler Wells gave up just one hit – a second-inning single – in seven scoreless on 96 pitches. He improved to 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA and Pirates batters went 1-for-22 against him. Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista – the twin towers – finished off the shutout.

At 26-13, the Orioles are 13 games over .500 for the first time since the last day of the 2016 season. They also moved within three games of first-place Tampa Bay, the closest to the top spot in the American League East they have been since April 7.

Wells provided the staff its third game this year of seven innings and the 11th quality start. When the O’s get one, they are 10-1. Today they go for their third series sweep of the year after winning two of two games at Washington and three of three at home versus Detroit.

The team ERA is 4.07, which ranks ninth-best in the AL, but the staff is surely trending up.

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O's game blog: Looking to keep it rolling in Game 2 against Pittsburgh

mullins doused after cycle

On a night when they twice trailed by a run and didn't score over their first five innings, the Orioles used late offense to beat Pittsburgh 6-3 last night. Tonight they look for a second straight win over the Pirates, which would provide them with yet another series win.

The Orioles (25-13) sit at 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay and could pull to within three games of the Rays with a win tonight. Tampa Bay let a 6-0 lead get away at New York today and lost 9-8 to the Yankees to fall to 30-11.

The Orioles have not been as close as three games to first place since April 7.

Center fielder Cedric Mullins provided the headlines on Friday night, producing the seventh cycle in Baltimore Orioles history. He singled in the third, tripled in the fifth, hit a double in the seventh and provided a huge three-run homer in the last of the eighth. That turned a 3-2 lead into a more comfortable 6-2 advantage and, ultimately, a three-run win.

Mullins joins Austin Hays (6/22/22 vs. WSH), Jonathan Villar (8/5/19 vs. NYY), Félix Pié (8/14/09 vs. LAA), Aubrey Huff (6/29/07 vs. LAA), Cal Ripken Jr. (5/6/84 at TEX), and Brooks Robinson (7/15/60 at CWS) as Orioles to hit for the cycle.

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Joey Ortiz on rejoining the Orioles in a taxi squad role

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His stay here this time could be potentially very short and he is not on the active roster, but infielder Joey Ortiz, one of the Orioles' top 100 prospects, is in the clubhouse today. He is on the taxi squad for tonight’s game with Pittsburgh.

Acting manager Fredi González - working as skipper of the Orioles tonight while Brandon Hyde attends the graduation of his daughter Aria from Syracuse University - explained the situation.

González said reserve outfielder Ryan McKenna is dealing with a back issue. The Orioles are hoping he will not need to go on in the injured list, but if that changes, and with a day game on Sunday, Ortiz is here just in case. It's essentially a 24-hour taxi squad role while the O's gather more info on McKenna.

Earlier today, Ortiz said it’s a thrill to be back in the O’s clubhouse in any role.

“Yeah, it’s great," he said. "Everyone is playing well. They’re winning, and it’s definitely something I want to be part of.”

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More on Mullins' special night and updating the pitching stats during recent run

mullins homer

The Orioles trailed by a run twice last night – in the third and seventh innings against Pittsburgh – but as they have done many times this year, they found ways to win a game late. They did it this time by scoring two runs in the seventh, and three on a huge swing in the eighth.

The 6-3 win over Pittsburgh moved the Orioles to 12 games over .500 at 25-13 and to within four games of first-place Tampa Bay, which lost to the Yankees. The Orioles improved to 12-1 in series-opening games and to 5-1 when the opener was a home game.

But center fielder Cedric Mullins entertained us and grabbed the headlines with his three-run homer in the eighth. It came at such a big time and turned a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 edge. And it meant that Mullins had hit for the cycle. He flied out in the first inning, but then singled in the third, tripled in the fifth, doubled in the seventh and homered in the eighth.

Mullins is now batting .268/.365/.478/.843 with eight doubles, three triples, five homers and 31 RBIs. He has scored 19 runs and is 12-for-12 on stolen bases. He is on a pace to finish with 21 homers, 51 steals and 132 RBIs.

The cycle produced a special kind of curtain call for Mullins last night. Not one where he comes to the top step of the dugout and tips his cap, but a moment when he is the only one running out of the dugout. The Orioles stayed back, and Mullins ran by himself to center field to start the top of the ninth, soaking in every cheer from a crowd providing a standing ovation.

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O's game blog: The series opener against Pittsburgh


In going 3-3 in the last two series against the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles won their series-opening game at Atlanta, but lost that series. They lost their series-opening game at home versus Tampa Bay, but won the last two games to take that series.

Baltimore enters a weekend series with Pittsburgh at 24-13 and playing .649 baseball. It is a pace that over a full season would produce 105 wins.

The Orioles are 2-1 this homestand, and over longer stretches have won 16 of 22, 18 of 25 and 20 of their past 28 games. With Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Tampa Bay they improved to 6-6 in games versus American League East teams and to 2-2 in four AL East series. The Orioles are 9-3 in series for the year, winning eight of their past nine. Their 24-13 record is third-best in the major leagues.

They are 11-1 in series-opening games and play one tonight to begin a three-game set with the Pirates, who are 8-4 in such games.

The Orioles are 11-5 at home and are 8-2 in their past 10 home games. They lost their first home series of the year against the New York Yankees, but have since won four in a row over Oakland, Detroit, Boston and Tampa Bay.

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Lefty reliever Nick Vespi on first 2023 trip to the majors

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Lefty reliever Nick Vespi spent time on the Norfolk-Baltimore shuttle last year and makes his first trip to Baltimore this year for the Pittsburgh series that begins tonight. He was recalled from Triple-A today and takes the roster spot of lefty Drew Rom, sent back to the Tides.

Vespi’s chances to make the Orioles out of spring training were hindered when he had hernia surgery in early January. It would limit him to three games and three innings in spring training, where he didn’t get into his first game until March 13. But with a 1-0 record and 2.84 ERA in 12 Triple-A games, and with four scoreless appearances his last four games, he’s back in the bigs today.

“Feel good. Felt strong,” he said today of his time with Norfolk. “Coming off the injury and everything, feel back to normal now. Super excited and hopefully I can keep doing what they’ve been doing (out of the bullpen).

“It took a couple of times out on the mound to feel back to normal, but just got my feet wet, started pitching again and feel great,” said Vespi, who has walked five and fanned 17 this year with Norfolk.

He leaves a team with a 26-9 record in the minors to join one that is 24-13 in the majors.

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