Hyde confident club can hold up against tough schedule – Friday was a nice start

brandon hyde

Friday was, to say the least, an impressive night for the Orioles.

They hit well, pitched well and defended well against an Atlanta team that won the World Series in 2021, won 101 games in 2022 and has won five straight National League East titles.

Atlanta sent out pitcher Max Fried and his 0.45 ERA, and the Orioles had him and the Braves down 9-1 in the seventh. They have scored 34 runs the last four games and that includes one game where they were shutout. They are 6-2 on this road trip, and 13-6 in road games after Friday's resounding 9-4 win.

What a way to start a 22-game stretch against clubs with winning records. And what a way to start a nine-game stretch versus first place teams in Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Anthony Santander hitting two homers, including a grand slam, and Cedric Mullins hitting a big left-on-left homer were huge moments. But for me, seeing right-hander Dean Kremer pitch so well was the biggest development.

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O's game blog: The series begins with the first-place Atlanta Braves

gunnar henderson celebrates grey

The Orioles schedule gets much tougher beginning tonight and, after a strong 21-10 start, we will get a good look at how they do against some top teams that are straight ahead on that schedule.

In April and counting the three games at Kansas City, the Orioles played 19 of 31 games versus clubs with current losing records. They played 12 games against winning record clubs, going 6-6 against Texas, Boston and the New York Yankees.

But the Orioles’ next three series will all be against first-place clubs and clubs that join Baltimore with the four current best records in MLB.

.813 – Tampa Bay
.688 – Atlanta
.677 – Orioles
.625 – Pittsburgh

The Orioles are keeping good company in this group but now their next nine games are against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. The play four after that with the second-place Los Angeles Angels, a club that is currently only one game out of first place. After that series, they play nine in a row against Toronto, the Yankees and Texas.

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For O's rookie Gunnar Henderson, it will be a special weekend in Atlanta

gunnar henderson celebrates grey

KANSAS CITY – As the Orioles road trip moves on to Atlanta tonight, it’s going to be a special weekend for 21-year-old rookie Gunnar Henderson. He is very proud of his hometown of Selma, Ala. and the feeling is very, very mutual.

And that small town, where Henderson was raised and grew to love the game of baseball playing on a field his dad built at their house, is going to show out big time this weekend to watch the hometown kid that made good.

A town of 17,971 according to the 2020 U.S. census, many from Selma will be at Atlanta's Truist Park for the games. They’ll drive over three hours and just over 200 miles to see the kid they've known for years.

The hometown kid who grew up to become the No. 1 ranked prospect in all of baseball. That hometown kid.

Of course his family will be there, supportive as always. His dad Allen, mom Kerry, older brother Jackson who is 24 and younger brother Cade, a lifelong O’s fan who is about to turn 16.

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Big lead gets away, the game doesn't: O's rally late to beat K.C., take another series

Grayson grey jersey pitching

KANSAS CITY – After the top of the third today, the Orioles were enjoying an 8-1 lead against the Kansas City Royals and former teammate Jordan Lyles. Maybe this would be their rare laughter - a blowout with no late game or even mid-game drama.


By the end of the Kansas City fourth, the Royals were hitting rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez hard and their 8-1 deficit was now just 8-6. There was nothing to laugh about now. Would the O’s even hold on and get another series win before heading to Atlanta?

Nope, also.

Or so we thought.

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O's game blog: Wrapping up the series in Kansas City

Grayson Rodriguez Black jersey pitching

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles had won three in a row, five of six, 12 of 14 and 16 of their past 20 games until they were shutout for the first time this year, 6-0 last night at Kansas City. 

So Baltimore (20-10) play the series finale at Kauffman Stadium this afternoon and it is their fifth rubber game of the year. They lost their first two – at Boston and home vs. the New York Yankees. But have won the last two at the Chicago White Sox and home against Boston.

The Orioles are 11-6 on the road and 4-2 on this 10-game trip. They are 7-2 in their past nine road games and are 4-1 in road series.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 4.07 ERA) gets the ball this afternoon and he takes a 14-innings scoreless streak into this start. The streak started in the second inning April 16 at Chicago versus the White Sox. It continued in five-inning outings twice against Detroit, once at home and once on the road. His last outing was Game 2 of the doubleheader Saturday at Detroit, when he pitched five scoreless with nine strikeouts and 91 pitches.

In those past two outings, he has allowed seven hits in 10 innings with four walks and 15 strikeouts, allowing a .194 batting average and .525 OPS. He is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts vs. teams from the AL Central.

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Pregame update on Austin Hays' finger issues and other O's notes

austin hays swings bat white

KANSAS CITY – Outfielder Austin Hays is out of the Orioles lineup for the second day in a row and he did not play at all in the game last night. But Hays said he was available then and is today as well as he continues to deal with a bruised right middle finger. He initially injured the finger on a bunt attempt in the recent home series versus Boston.

“We’re just letting the finger have a day or two to heal a little better," Hays said this morning in the Baltimore clubhouse. "Some lingering things going on there from when it got hit. Just making sure I’m going to be healthy for this next stretch coming up. Our training staff has done a great job of keeping me in there and taking care of it. We’re just giving it a day or two, but I’m available for the game and was available to hit last night. Took some swings in the cage to be ready if I needed to swing in a pinch-hit situation. I’m available but we’re just trying to manage this right now.”

Does the finger still bother him when hitting?

“We have been wrapping it. Just have some tape on there. Once the training staff gets it covered and wrapped up, it’s not too painful," he said. 

Hays said he is very positive about this issue moving forward.

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Looking to improve strong record against losing clubs, plus other O's notes

Mullins Hays white

KANSAS CITY – If a formula for producing one of the best records in baseball so far has been to hold your own against the best teams and clean up on losing records clubs, the Orioles are doing a pretty solid job in following the script.

They may have gone off script for a night, being shutout 6-0 by Kansas City last night, as the Royals (8-23) ended a 10-game home losing streak that fell a game short of the franchise record.

But the Orioles have played four series to date against teams with current winning records and they are 6-6 in the 12 games against Boston, the New York Yankees and Texas, going 2-2 in series.

But they are 14-4 through Tuesday’s games against clubs with current losing records, going 5-0 in series. That is a .778 win percentage and that will help a team get into the playoffs. So will a 20-10 record and a .667 overall win percentage that, if maintained through the full year, amounts to 108 wins.

But as noted previously here, the May schedule is about to get more challenging for the team, with series looming against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Toronto and New York.

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A night after 11-run outburst, O's offense shut down in loss at K.C. (updated)


KANSAS CITY – The Orioles had not been shut out yet this year and ranked fifth in the majors in runs per game at 5.45 coming into this outing. But their offense, which produced 11 runs last night, did not come through for the Orioles tonight.

O’s right-hander Kyle Gibson had been 4-0 this year and the Orioles were 5-1 in his 2023 starts. But he would need run support to win this one and didn’t get it.

Kansas City snapped a 10-game home losing streak, scoring single runs in the fourth and sixth and adding four in the seventh to beat the Orioles 6-0 in front of 10,362 at Kauffman Stadium. 

The time of game was one hour and 59 minutes. 

The Orioles will win a seventh consecutive series if they win the rubber match here on Thursday afternoon.

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O's game blog: Looking for another series win

O's game blog: Looking for another series win

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles can record another series win – it would be their seventh in a row – should they win one of the last two games in the series at Kansas City, with Game 2 tonight. Winning series openers - and the Orioles are now 10-0 in such games - provides the team a chance to rack up series wins.

While the Orioles club record is nine straight series wins, done by the 1968 edition, the last O’s teams to win seven consecutive series within a season were the clubs in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984 and 1986, per STATS.

Last night also produced another game in which the O’s batters did so much better seeing a pitcher for the second time. This year they have a team OPS of .696 when facing a pitcher for the first time, and it’s now .994 when facing him the second time through after last night.

Kansas City lefty Ryan Yarbrough retired every hitter in order to start Monday’s game, so the O’s went 0-for-9 against him the first time up. They went 5-for-6 with a double, homer and three walks the second time through, batting around in a five-run fourth inning. That OPS for the Orioles leads the American League in batting the second time through, by a big margin, with Toronto second at .823 and Tampa Bay third at .782.

Last night the Orioles scored 10 or more runs for the third time this season and tied their season high with 15 hits.

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Brandon Hyde on Torrens acquisition and other pregame notes

rutschman bautista wrap it up white

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles today acquired catcher Luis Torrens, a veteran of 264 major league games, from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for cash considerations. He has not yet reported to the team and manager Brandon Hyde said he wasn’t sure what day that would happen. To make 40-man roster room, reliever Joey Krehbiel was designated for assignment.

Hyde said this afternoon that this move is not about the health of either of his two catchers, confirming that both Adley Rutschman and James McCann are fine physically. However, Triple-A catcher Maverick Handley went on the injured list today with a hand contusion. Mark Kolozsvary was seen here this week and it's assumed that he is the taxi-squad catcher for this series. 

For now, the Orioles may be about to again carry three catchers. Hyde was asked if that was the plan.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Haven’t seen much of him (Torrens),” Hyde said during his pregame media update. “Saw him against Seattle last year. But just know that he is a guy that has hit left-handers well in his career (with a .725 OPS) and done a nice job behind the plate. Besides that, don’t know much about him. Looking forward to getting to know him.

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On a night of big offense, defense was also a difference-maker in win at K.C.

Cedric Mullins

KANSAS CITY – On the night when the Orioles won another series-opening game, scored 11 runs and got 10 of them in the middle three innings and Ryan Mountcastle produced his eighth career multi-homer game, a few defensive gems loomed large for the Orioles.

When center fielder Cedric Mullins sprinted deep into the right-center gap to run down a ball in the last of the fifth, it might have been the O’s top web gem of the 2023 season. Mullins made a diving catch on the warning track. A ball that Kyle Isbel hit 100 mph and 387 feet with an expected batting average of .450 was no match for Mullins' speed and glove.

The Orioles had scored seven runs the previous two innings to gain the lead and Mullins made sure the momentum stayed on their side.

“Cedric made the play of the year for me,” manager Brandon Hyde marveled after the game. “How about that play? What was the Statcast on that play? He outran that baseball and then the dive with the wall right in front. Super tough play. We played great defense tonight.

“We’re a better defensive club than we showed early. Still kind of finding our way a little and still making some mistakes here and there, but, you know we have to play well defensively and tonight we did.”

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Mountcastle homers twice to lead mid-game offensive explosion in Kansas City (updated)

mountcastle homers in texas

KANSAS CITY – On a night when an O’s former American League East nemesis, lefty Ryan Yarbrough, rolled through the Orioles to retire nine straight in the first three innings, the ability to foresee an O’s rally, much less an offensive explosion, might have been challenging.

But these are the 2023 Orioles, a club that rolled off 19 wins in the first 28 games and one that had produced nine comeback wins in that span. Also, a club that had not lost a series-opening game all year, going 9-0.

That streak stayed alive tonight.

Down 3-0 going to the fourth inning, the Orioles use a pair of Ryan Mountcastle two-run homers and Cedric Mullins’ huge two-run single to storm back and beat Kansas City 11-7 tonight at Kauffman Stadium.

They are now 20-9 overall and 10-0 in series-opening games. The Orioles have won five of six, 12 of 14 and 16 of their past 20 games. They improved to 11-5 in road games.

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O's game blog: The Kansas City series opener at Kauffman Stadium

Tyler Wells pitching gray

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles have played 16 of their last 19 games against teams with current losing records – going 13-3 in those games – and that stretch will continue tonight at Kauffman Stadium.

The Kansas City Royals (7-22) host the Orioles tonight to start a three-game series. After winning 15 of 19 since April 10 against mostly losing-record clubs, outside of the Red Sox, the Orioles face a struggling K.C. team tonight, one that has lost nine in a row at home. In fact, Kansas City is just 1-12 at home this year. They are going to start beating someone soon, and the Orioles just hope that all starts after they leave town Thursday.

But the Royals have really struggled and have a minus-64 run differential, the third-worst currently in the American League. Baltimore's run differential of plus 25 is fifth-best in the AL.

The Royals have lost four of the last five and 13 of 16 games. They just completed a 3-7 road trip to the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona and Minnesota. They are 1-8 in series play, 0-4 at home.

Kansas City went 65-97 last season and Matt Quatraro was named their new manager on Oct. 30. He was a coach for the last five years for the Tampa Bay Rays.

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O's pregame notes on Hays at leadoff, trying to get Santander going and more

hays trots at fenway

KANSAS CITY – As the Orioles face the Kansas City Royals tonight to start a three-game series, left fielder Austin Hays is batting leadoff again versus a left-hander.

This will be the ninth time Hays will bat leadoff, and he is batting there for the sixth time in the last 10 games. Former Tampa Bay lefty Ryan Yarbrough (0-3, 6.35 ERA) starts for the Royals. 

Hays' numbers batting leadoff show a .313 batting average and .858 OPS at 10-for-32. They are close to his overall numbers for the year at .312/.900.

“Kind of early in the year and we had trouble with left-handed starters last year. Trying to give us a spark in that way. Tried (Ramón) Urías there in Boston, that didn’t go very well. Think he’s been swinging the bat really well against left-handed pitching, so just rolling with it,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Hays batting No. 1.

He said when he puts a hitter in a spot in the lineup that is different (such as Hays batting at the top), he doesn’t want that hitter to change anything, such as take more pitches or have a different hitting approach.

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Off to good start, O's offense scores well in a few surprising areas of stat sheet

Anthony Ssantander

As the Orioles offense has gotten off to a productive start to this season – and they rank among the AL leaders in several categories, including very important ones like runs per game, team OBP and OPS, walks and pitches per plate appearance – there are a few stats where they are at or near the top of the league that might be surprising.

As of Monday, the Orioles lead the American League with 13 sac flies which is two more than the next closest team, Cleveland with 11 with the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers next with 10. Anthony Santander is the O’s leader with three sac flies while Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman have two each.

Sometimes it is important to get that run in with less than two outs from third. Heck, when is it not? Sunday at Detroit – in a game the O’s would win 5-3 – Mountcastle led off the fifth with a double and then Kyle Stowers moved him up a base by hitting the ball on the right side for a groundout. Austin Hays' fly ball to right got him in. Beautiful - get him on, get him over, get him in.

This was an area where the Orioles were not always proficient. Last year they did okay, ranking seventh in the AL with 43 sac flies. They would have 75 this year producing them at their current pace.

The Orioles are also tied for the AL lead to this point with Oakland with six sac bunts. They ranked seventh in the league in 2022 with 12 all year. Mateo, Cedric Mullins and Terrin Vavra have two each. Those that believe “never bunt” will not like this stat but there are times advancing a runner seems pretty important.

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Using a host of "bulk innings" pitchers, Bowie tops Eastern League in rotation ERA

Cade Povich

BOWIE, Md. – Most teams in pro baseball use a five-man rotation, sometimes six, but 10 is a bit much. However the Orioles like to sometimes essentially use two starting pitchers or bulk inning pitchers in one game and that has been on display often this year at Double-A Bowie.

And while the Baysox have not gotten off to a great start at 6-13, it has not been about shaky pitching. The opposite has been true. Bowie was rained out Sunday but ranks third in the Eastern League in team ERA at 3.43

But the Baysox lead the Eastern League in rotation ERA at 2.60 and also rank first among starter WHIP at 1.06 and batting average against by starting pitchers at .191.

And the Baysox have had nine different pitchers start games this year and nine times have had games where two pitchers threw three innings or more. There was another game or two where they just missed as a second pitcher went 2 2/3. And 10 pitchers on their staff have had at least one outing of three innings or more.

The "bulk innings" pitchers, my term not theirs, are getting their work in, developing their pitches and thriving on the stat sheet.

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O's game blog: Wrapping up the series in Detroit

orioles celebrate black

The Orioles four games in four days series at Detroit, working around Friday's rainout with Saturday's doubleheader, wraps up this afternoon with the series finale.

A win by the Orioles would move them to 10 games over the .500 mark for the first time this year and they would also have won six straight series.

Since opening the year going 1-2 at Boston, 2-1 at Texas and 1-2 at home against the New York Yankees, the Orioles have not lost a series. They went 3-1 against Oakland, 2-1 at Chicago, 2-0 at Washington, 3-0 versus Detroit and 2-1 against Boston.

The series with Detroit (10-16) is the first of three series during a 10-game road trip, the longest of the year for the Orioles. The Orioles are 9-5 on the road and are 3-1 in road series. They can't lose this one but must get a victory today to win it and keep the series win streak going into Kansas City.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 6.30 ERA) will make his fourth start of the year. His last two have been very different. On April 19 at Washington he pitched six scoreless on five hits and 92 pitches. But on Tuesday versus Boston he gave up eight hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings at Oriole Park.

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After strong Aprils, can O's and Rays make hay in May?

jorge mateo slides black

The Orioles – and everybody else in the American League East – have been looking up in the standings at the Tampa Bay Rays all season. From just about the first pitch of the 2023 year.

The Rays went 13-0 to start the year and began play yesterday at 22-5 (.815) with the best record in baseball. For a while, they were looking like they would pull off a 1984 Detroit Tigers start of 35-5. As of yesterday afternoon, they still could do that, the math was still possible.

And while the Orioles' 17-8 start heading into yesterday was one of their best-ever, they began Saturday’s doubleheader four games out of first place. But their .667 win percentage would be good enough to be first in four of the other five divisions in MLB.

However, in this division, they continue to look up to the Rays.

The Orioles and Rays have something in common beyond getting off to good starts. Both teams play schedules that were and are in April much softer on paper than what they will both face in May.

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O's game blog: It's a doubleheader day for the Orioles and Tigers

O's game blog: It's a doubleheader day for the Orioles and Tigers

Having secured yet another series-opening win – the Orioles are now 9-0 in such games, 5-0 on the road – on Thursday night at Detroit, the Orioles play a split doubleheader today against the Tigers at Comerica Park after getting rained out on Friday night. It will be the Orioles’ first twinbill of the 2023 season.

The Orioles trailed 3-0 in the series opener heading to the fifth inning and scored twice on a Joey Ortiz ground single into right field to pull within 3-2. Then, down 4-2 when they batted in the seventh, the Orioles scored five runs to take the lead and went on to a 7-4 win. Ortiz had a sac fly in that rally and Cedric Mullins’ tripled to right for a 4-4 tie. After Adley Rutschman’s sac fly gave the O’s a 5-4 lead, Anthony Santander blasted a 414-foot homer to left-center for the 7-4 lead.

The Baltimore offense has now produced seven runs or more in eight of 25 games and the team is scoring 5.28 runs per game for the year. The Orioles have recorded double-digit hits 11 times. As a club, they are batting .266 with a .793 OPS off lefties and batting .247/.734 versus right-handed pitching.

With Thursday’s win, the Orioles improved to 4-0 against Detroit after losing the season series in the last five years the teams have played.

With two more wins in the remaining three games in this series, the Orioles will have another series victory. The Orioles have won five straight series against Oakland, the Chicago White Sox, Washington, Detroit and Boston. According to STATS, the Orioles are trying to become the first team this season to win six straight series. Baltimore has won six straight series just twice this century, once from August to September last season and once from July to August in 2014.

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Adley Rutschman on solid plate discipline for him and team

Rutschman rounding bases whites

Gunnar and Adley. Adley and Gunnar. Two of the Orioles top young talents, both Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson were taken in the 2019 MLB Draft. In fact, they were the first two selections made by the then new regime of executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias.

Rutschman was taken with the No. 1 overall selection out of Oregon State University and Henderson was taken No. 42 overall out of John T. Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama. Rutschman was the more experienced and polished player as a college draft pick and it took Gunnar a bit longer to gain that polish.

But both have already been ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and the two are among the biggest reasons the Orioles have the No. 1 ranked farm in the sport right now and a big league team that is off to a great start.

And as written here yesterday, the Orioles have gotten off to a strong offensive start this year scoring 5.28 runs per game. A big reason for that is improved plate discipline stats which have the Orioles among the top teams in baseball in walks, pitches per plate appearance and OBP.

Rutschman entered Friday’s games batting .287/.405/.436/.841 in 25 games. He ranked first in the American League with 20 walks heading into Friday’s play. He ranked tied for fifth in the AL in OBP and 21st in the league in pitches per plate appearance.

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