Final thoughts on West Coast road trip

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Orioles road trip has moved to the East Coast and they face the New York Yankees tonight. The Orioles (6-10) took two of three from the Yankees (10-6) in the series in Baltimore that preceded this trip.

New York scored just six runs in three games in Baltimore. But in winning five of six since then - and they just swept three from Cleveland on Sunday - they’ve scored 28 runs.  

The Orioles have not won back-to-back series against the Yankees since taking the last series against them in 2016 and the first of the 2017 season. So it’s been a minute.

Here are a few thoughts from the West Coast part of the trip.

Mancini is mashing: Trey Mancini is batting .237/.288/.339/.627 and those numbers in no way reflect the quality of his contact. He hit a three-run homer Sunday and he has been mashing baseballs during the entire trip where his OPS is just .646.

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O's game blog: Looking for a sweep in Anaheim

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After winning Saturday night to provide a series victory, the Orioles shoot for another win today over the Los Angeles Angels as they seek to sweep this three-game series.

The Orioles, who are 3-3 on this road trip and 5-4 the last nine games, beat the Angels 5-3 Friday night and 5-4 last night. Baltimore is now 3-3 in games decided by one run and 2-3 in two-run games.

The last five games on this trip to Oakland and Anaheim have been decided by one or two runs and the Orioles are 3-2.

Right-hander Chris Ellis (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will get the start in today’s series finale, his second of this season and road trip. On Tuesday at Oakland, Ellis went 4 1/3 scoreless innings on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. He threw 62 pitches and did not get a decision in a game the Orioles would lose 2-1 to the Athletics. He threw first-pitch strikes to 12 of the first 16 batters he faced that night, and getting ahead in the count was important during his outing.

Ellis made one start this season at Triple-A Norfolk before joining the Orioles and he threw four hitless and scoreless innings for the Tides. After his strong outing on Tuesday, Ellis remarked how excited he was to be back in the big leagues.

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López dealing again, plus Hyde on Maddon and more

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – After Joey Krehbiel pulled off a nice escape act and stranded two runners in scoring position in the eighth inning Saturday night, it would once again be Jorge López time. The right-hander, who always seemed to struggle in the fifth innings of his starts, is now a closer, and he is pitching with the determination and effectiveness of an All-Star right now.

Asked to save the game for the second time in two nights and third in four days, López did it again last night. Throwing 98 mph again, López recorded the final two outs with a strikeout of Shohei Ohtani and an Anthony Rendon grounder as the Orioles held on for a 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels. They had a narrow 5-3 win on Friday night and can sweep this series this afternoon.

When the series started, the Angels were 8-5 and in first place in the American League West, had won seven of nine games, had beaten Houston 7-2 and 6-0 in its previous two games and ranked second in the AL in slugging and OPS.

But the Orioles have held their offense in check and López has been bringing the heat in the ninth.

“When the season started I told him, ‘I’m going to pitch you late game against the toughest part of the lineup,’” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Because I believe so much in his stuff. Whether that is going to be the seventh, eighth or ninth, he’s going to face the middle of the order. He’s taken it and run with it. He’s super confident on the mound. It’s never been about stuff with Lopie. His stuff has ticked up out of the 'pen because it’s a shorter sprint. He doesn’t have to go through the lineup a few times. And I think he’s relishing getting the ball in a high-leverage spot. It’s exciting to watch him. He’s come a long way.”

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O's rally in seventh provides comeback win, series victory

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – It was another night where an Orioles starter kept his team in the game and another night where that pitcher allowed two earned runs or fewer. That is an ongoing O’s team record.

But one pitching stat did take a hit tonight: the O’s staff had allowed just six homers in the first 14 games – tied for fewest in MLB with San Francisco. But they yielded three tonight – including a tie-breaking shot by Brandon Marsh in the sixth – as the Los Angeles Angels took a 4-2 lead.

But on this night, the Orioles had a comeback in them.

They scored three times in the top of the seventh off the Angels bullpen and won 5-4 in front of 43,883 at Angel Stadium. They improved to 6-9 overall and 5-4 in their past nine games.

The Orioles have won three of four and have won a series for the second time this season.

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Reaction on the Means news from Brandon Hyde and clubhouse

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – The news of Orioles left-hander John Means needing Tommy John surgery became official today as announced by the pitcher himself via Twitter. But in the Orioles clubhouse, it’s clear some, maybe most of his teammates had advance warning.

Still that doesn’t make it easier to take when someone they see as not only the best pitcher on the staff but a leader too and a valued close friend is going to miss the rest of the season.

“It’s something that, it’s obviously a blow,” manager Brandon Hyde said in the Orioles dugout. “It’s a blow to John, to our club. Not going to have John for a while and John’s a big part of our pitching staff, a big part of our team. Injuries happen but I feel bad for John. Not only what he brings on the field, on the mound, but the leadership he brings to our clubhouse. It’s going to be tough without him. But we have to have guys step and take different roles.”

Hyde said there was no reason to have a team meeting or anything of that nature about this news or to try and have any special words for his players.

“No, I think we all are professionals and these things happen. Injuries are part of the game. You know we lost our opening day starter and that hurts and I think we’re all aware too that it was going to be an extended time he would be out. We need to get John healthy and ready for 2023.”

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O's game blog: Looking for another win at Anaheim

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – After their latest well-pitched game on Friday and with a 4-4 record over the last eight games, the Orioles continue their road trip tonight at Angel Stadium. The Orioles (5-9) play the Los Angeles Angels (8-6) in the second of a three-game series.

With Friday’s 5-3 win, the Orioles improved to 2-3 on this road trip and to 3-2 in series-opening games. If they can win one of the next two, they will have their second series victory of 2022.

Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann and three relievers teamed up for an eight-hitter with just one walk and nine strikeouts last night. Zimmermann allowed two earned runs over six-plus innings and is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA. Then Félix Bautista, Cionel Pérez and Jorge López combined for three scoreless out of the ‘pen. Catcher Robinson Chirinos drove in three of the five Baltimore runs.

One of the more improbable things that happened last night was how the Orioles handled Shohei Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP and the 2021 AP Male Athlete of the Year.

A player who last year had a .965 OPS and 46 homers. A player who in ’21 became the fourth player all-time and first American Leaguer to tally 45 homers, 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 25 stolen bases in a single season.

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Another look at the O's pitching in win over first-place Angels

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – If you haven’t been impressed yet by the Orioles' dramatically improved pitching, maybe you missed the last of the fourth inning Friday night.

O’s lefty Bruce Zimmermann was rolling again. He had buzzed through the first three innings against the Los Angeles Angels, a first-place team beginning play Friday, on 33 pitches. In the last of the first he fanned reigning league MVP Shohei Ohtani and then got Mike Trout to line out and Anthony Rendon to ground out. On seven pitches, by the way.

But here they came to bat again in the fourth and this time they were getting a second look at Zimmermann. So up came Ohtani, who hit 46 homers last year. Zimmermann struck him out swinging on five pitches with a slider. Next was Trout, a three-time MVP and eight-time Silver Slugger, who fanned at a curveball to go down on strikes on the fifth pitch. And then five more would be needed to strike out Rendon, also a Silver Slugger winner, with a changeup.

It wasn’t Carl Hubbell in the 1934 All-Star game, but for a guy throwing 90, 91 mph, it was darn impressive.

“That 1-2-3 (in their lineup) is a serious punch. It’s definitely a challenge but that is what makes this game fun, is playing against guys like that," said Zimmermann.

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Bruce Zimmermann's strong start leads O's past the Angels in series opener

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – He was getting ahead of hitters. He had their timing disrupted with his changeup. His fastball was hitting spots and his secondaries were on point. Lefty Bruce Zimmermann, whose season began with two scoreless outings, threw a third straight strong game tonight.

It was some impressive pitching.

And the Orioles offense, which came to life yesterday after Trey Mancini’s ejection, tonight matched their season high in runs.

The Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 to start a three-game weekend series. They improved to 5-9 overall, to 2-3 on this road trip and to 2-6 in road games.

How good was Zimmermann tonight?

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O's game blog: The series with the Angels begins

O's game blog: The series with the Angels begins

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Orioles three-city road trip has advanced to city No. 2. They are in Anaheim tonight to start a three-game weekend series with the Angels.

The Orioles (4-9) started this trip losing three of four in Oakland and lost 6-4 on Thursday afternoon. Austin Hays drove in two runs with a double and a single, Rougned Odor added an RBI single, and Ryan McKenna added a sac fly.

It was yet another close game for the Orioles, who are 2-6 in games decided by two runs or less, going 1-3 in both one- and two-run games. The O’s offense has produced just 28 runs (2.15 per game) and they’ve scored two or less nine times.

The Angels (8-5) are in first place in the American League West as this series begins. They lead Oakland by a half-game, are one game ahead of Seattle and 1 ½ up on Houston. They won the last two games of a series with Houston that ended Wednesday by 7-2 and 6-0 scores. The Angels have won five of six and seven of their last nine games.

Their offense has been real strong, averaging 5.0 runs per game, and the Angels have 16 homers, tied for the AL lead. They also lead the league in steals with 11 but also lead by a big margin in caught stealing with eight. The Angels rank third in the AL in batting (.253), and second in on-base percentage (.333), slugging (.423) and OPS (.756).

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Chirinos on return to lineup, Hyde on facing the Angels

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Two nights ago, he was walking off the field in the second inning at Oakland after a scary moment, but Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos is back in the lineup tonight when the O's open a series at Angels Stadium. He will catch and bat seventh.

Chirinos was thrown a 92 mph fastball by A’s right-hander Daulton Jefferies, and the ball was high and tight. It hit his shoulder and then his face in the cheek area, and Chirinos had to leave the game.

But by the end of the game the team felt they had dodged a bullet – as Chirinos had barely dodged a direct blow to his face - and their starting catcher was going to be okay.

Chirinos wanted to play yesterday in Oakland, but manager Brandon Hyde wanted to hold him out. But he’s back in there tonight.

“I’m thankful to be back in the lineup today,” Chirinos said this afternoon in the Orioles clubhouse. “If you go back and look at that replay, maybe by an inch we would be having a different story today. So thank God protected me from that hit by pitch. It was a scary moment for me and my family.

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O's Paul Fry on the strong start for the bullpen

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Orioles veteran lefty Paul Fry has been with the team for five seasons now. He’s been in bullpens with the likes of Zack Britton, Darren O’ Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Richard Bleier.

Now he is part of this new-look rebuilt Orioles bullpen that is off to such a great start. For a team with an overall staff ERA of 2.87, which ranks sixth-best in baseball, the bullpen has sure been doing its part. The ‘pen ERA is 2.83 and that is ninth-best in the majors. The bullpen pitchers have allowed just two homers in 13 games, tied for the best mark in the majors.

Did Fry see this coming? What potential did he see in his teammates in the ‘pen heading into the year?

“Lot of guys with a lot of talent,” he said during a pregame interview in Oakland. “So we are going out there trying to pick each other up every outing. We’ve said it before, you pass the baton to the next guy. We are subtlety kind of competing with each other there, trying to one up each other, who has the better outing just like the starters do. You know all these close ballgames is really bringing us closer. We are all finding new roles here and there. So I’ve been impressed so far.”

Every year the bullpen is like a team within a team, developing its own collective personality.

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A whirlwind 12 months gets Félix Bautista to the Orioles

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – As the Orioles’ road trip moves on to Anaheim for a series this weekend with the Los Angeles Angels, it will, no doubt, be three more games in the big leagues to savor for 26-year-old right-hander Félix Bautista.

The big man with a big arm from the Dominican Republic in the O’s bullpen is a bit of a late bloomer. But for him, better late than never.

Before the 2015 season the Miami Marlins released him, and the Orioles signed him on Aug. 4, 2016. Now, in his seventh season on their watch, he finally arrives in the majors. Bautista slowly made some gains with his command and control, and then he had a breakout 2021 season, pitched at three levels in the minor leagues.

For the player first signed as an international free agent in 2012, it was a long path to the major leagues. But now he’s throwing 99 mph with a nasty split, and the Orioles are thrilled he’s here.

He started last season with high Single-A Aberdeen and then moved to Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The hitters got better but he kept getting outs, especially strikeouts. He is an imposing figure on the mound and features sometimes dominant stuff.

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Mancini on his ejection as O's fall at Oakland

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OAKLAND – Trey Mancini believes first base umpire Rob Drake made the wrong call. When he was called out on the play in the top of the fourth today, it led to his first career ejection in the bottom half. It also – and these two may have been related – led to the Orioles scoring in three of their next four at-bats.

And while they lost to the Athletics 6-4 today, Mancini hoped his ejection not only may have lit a fire under his teammates on offense today, but that the fire keeps burning this weekend for the next series against the Angels.

With two outs and none on in the fourth, and the O’s down 2-0, Mancini’s grounder up the middle bounced off pitcher Paul Blackburn toward second base. It was fielded by the A’s Nick Allen, but his low throw went behind first baseman Seth Brown. But not far enough for Mancini to take another base on a play scored E4. Mancini had one small sort of jab step where he was just inside fair territory. As he strolled back to first after running through the bag, catcher Sean Murphy grabbed the ball and tagged him.

Drake called Mancini out for apparently attempting to go to second base. Two pitches into the last of the fourth, Mancini was jawing at Drake from the dugout and was ejected. Moments later, so was O’s manager Brandon Hyde.

The O’s offense, which to that point in the series had produced three runs in 31 innings, then produced four in the next four innings, but they lost to fall to 4-9, going 1-3 in this series while scoring seven total runs.

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A day of ejections and frustrations as O's fall in series finale

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OAKLAND – For the Orioles today, having almost as many ejections as runs scored was not a winning formula. While they may have had a good argument with first base umpire Rob Drake, the O’s hitters produced just four runs today, one more than the first three games of this series combined.

When Oakland scored late runs, a close game morphed into a two-run A's win, as the Athletics beat the Orioles 6-4 to take three of four in this series. The Orioles (4-9) head now to play the Angels at 1-3 on this trip and 1-6 in road games.

They scored just seven runs in this series, the first leg of a three-city road trip.

The ejections came after the top of the fourth. What looked like a routine 1-4-3 groundout in the O's fourth, on a ball Trey Mancini hit back to the box that caromed to second, instead turned into a play leading to two O’s ejections. Both Mancini and manager Brandon Hyde were tossed by Drake.

Mancini would reach first on what was later scored E4. But when the throw got away a bit from the first baseman, he was called out when tagged by the catcher Sean Murphy backing up the play. Mancini was apparently ruled to have made a move toward second base after crossing the first base bag. He may have had a step with a slight lean in that direction at most, but the umpire made the out call.

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O's game blog: The series finale at Oakland

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OAKLAND – The Orioles have scored just one run in each game of this series at the Oakland Coliseum. But they won by 1-0 yesterday. They are hoping they don’t have to pitch a shutout to win today.

But of the Orioles' four wins this year – and they are 4-8 – three have come via a shutout. They have pitched two shutouts in their last four games and three in the last nine.

Five pitchers combined on a seven-hitter with one walk and 11 strikeouts in Wednesday’s win. It was started by Jordan Lyles, who gave up five hits over five innings. It was ended by Jorge López, who recorded a five-out save for his second save this year and third of his career.López threw 19 pitches, touching 99 mph on the radar gun. 

The Orioles are one of seven major league teams with more than one shutout:

* Three shutouts – Orioles, Mets
* Two shutouts – Royals, Angels, Yankees, Padres, Cardinals

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O's Chirinos avoids IL, plus other pregame notes

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OAKLAND – Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos, who had a 92 mph fastball strike his shoulder and glance off his face near the cheek yesterday, could play today in an emergency situation if the Orioles had to use him in the series finale at Oakland.

Catcher Anthony Bemboom will make his fifth start today, batting eighth and catching Tyler Wells against the A’s. Chirinos was hit by a Daulton Jefferies pitch in the second inning of Wednesday’s game. After being looked at by the training staff, he left the field and the game. It was later announced he had a facial contusion. Chirinos has made eight starts this year and is batting  .182/.357/.182/.539 with no homers or RBIs in his first nine games with the club.

“He’s feeling a lot better today,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We dodged a bullet with him yesterday. That was a scary moment. We got lucky a little bit, it hit his shoulder I think first and more kind of glanced off his face. But it’s sore and swollen. He passed all the tests and he feels good and he wants to play. I’m going to try and not play him (today). Woke up this morning and that was a good phone to get that he’s OK. He could probably play today, but I don’t want him to.”

After a day where five O's pitcher combined for the club's third shutout of the year, Hyde had some props for bullpen lefty Paul Fry, a pitcher trying to recapture his previous form. And a pitcher that struggled so badly with his command late last year that he was optioned out to Triple-A.

But since giving up three runs in an outing April 10 versus Tampa Bay, he has thrown scoreless ball over his past three games. That includes a 1-2-3 sixth here yesterday on 11 pitches.

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Another look at more outstanding O's pitching

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OAKLAND – For the Orioles, it was yet another night of some darn fine pitching. Birdland is not used to seeing those words written in recent seasons. This is not Jim Palmer and Dave McNally, or even Chris Tillman and Zack Britton, but the 2022 Orioles have put together a pretty stunning 12-game run on the mound.

Most of this has happened since John Means got hurt and he could be lost to the team for a long stretch as they await results of further testing. The pitching was supposed to head south without their ace. But they keep throwing (many of them) with mid-to-late 90s gas, making big pitches and piling up zeros.

To say the least, it was unexpected.

But as the Orioles charged out of their first-base dugout Wednesday when Jorge López got the final out, they celebrated their fourth win and their latest strong game on the mound.

The pitchers are doing this without hardly any run support, which is leaving them little margin for error. Or no margin when they win 1-0 as they did yesterday - their first 1-0 win since beating Texas by that score on July 14, 2018.

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For starters, O's staff is rolling: Lyles, relievers pitch O's to shutout win

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OAKLAND - It seems quite improbable. But at this early stage of the 2022 season, the Baltimore Orioles' pitching rotation and entire pitching staff is hanging with the best in baseball. And the latest example came on a cool, sunny afternoon in Oakland.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles, coming off a strong outing against the Yankees, had another one today, throwing five scoreless innings as the Orioles blanked Oakland 1-0. Four relievers completed the shutout, which included an impressive five-out save from Jorge López as the Orioles improved to 4-8.

When the game ended, the Orioles charged out of their first-base dugout.

“Our guys were fired up," said manager Brandon Hyde. "In the dugout, we exploded after that last out. What an amazing job by all of our pitchers, especially Lopie coming in there at the end of the game. The first-and-third situation in the eighth and got us out of that, and then an easy ninth. Jordan Lyles set the tone, five great innings."

Baltimore has scored just a single run for three straight games in Oakland, but today they got a victory out of it. 

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O's pregame notes on the offense, Bautista and more

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OAKLAND – The search for offense to match their strong pitching continues for the Orioles today in the third game of this series in Oakland. They’ve lost the first two games, scoring just two runs in the series.

Last night they hit seven balls 100 mph or more that were caught and turned into outs. Since the Statcast era of data began in 2015, just twice have the Orioles hit more. On both Sept. 3, 2017 and Sept, 21, 2019 they had opponents turn eight balls hit 100 mph or more into outs.

Does manager Brandon Hyde have concerns that his hitters will get frustrated that even when they square up balls like they did last night, the results still don’t come?

“I think we have quite a few guys pressing a little bit and they want to see results,” he said ahead of today’s game in the Baltimore dugout. “I was encouraged the way we swung the bats, especially the first half of the game. We drove a bunch of balls into the big part of the field and (center fielder Christian) Pache made a bunch of nice plays. The ball wasn’t really carrying last night.

“I know our guys want to see results and want to see some numbers being put up. We’ve started the season in a bit of an offensive funk and hopefully we get out of it soon. Maybe last night is a good sign that we hit so many balls hard that we’re on our way. We’ve also faced some good pitching, too, at this point. Hopefully, we get it going today.”

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles faces the A's in Oakland

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OAKLAND – The Orioles have not been able to take much advantage of the outstanding pitching they have been getting with the team scoring so few runs. They are holding the other teams’ offenses down, but right now it’s not translating into wins.

So they hope today will be the day to turn that corner and get into the win column in Oakland, where they have lost 5-1 and 2-1 to begin this four-game series and 10-game road trip.

The last two nights, O’s pitchers have held the A’s to three earned runs on 12 hits, but still no wins. The frustration just grew here on Tuesday when the Orioles hit 10 balls in play at 100 mph or more and yet seven were turned into outs. Right now they’d love to just see a bloop fall with men on base to get something going. The momentum they hoped they had built in Sunday’s win over Yankees is long gone now.

The Orioles (3-8) begin play looking for their first road win of 2022 at 0-5, and they are in fifth in the American League East and three games behind the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Yankees – all tied for first at 6-5.

In this series the O’s have scored just two runs on 15 hits, going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. They have scored two runs or fewer in eight of their 11 games, with a season high of five runs.

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