O's game blog: Rodriguez on the mound as O's host Minnesota

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After a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins Monday at Oriole Park, in a game in which the Orioles never trailed, they host Minnesota again tonight with a chance to win this series. 

The Orioles (10-6) are on a pace to win 101 games, matching their 2023 total, at this early stage of this season. The O’s begin play today 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the American League East lead. They are 6-4 at home and 5-1 in series-opening games.

The Orioles hit three homers last night. They have hit nine in their past three games, 14 in the last five games and 24 on the season. That is a total that leads the AL and is one behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the major league lead. The Birds average 1.5 homers per game, second in the majors to Milwaukee's 1.6

The Orioles hit two or more homers eight times this season and they are 7-1 in those games.

The Baltimore offense is starting to pick up. In winning five of their past seven games, the Orioles have scored 42 runs while hitting 15 homers. In those games the team batting average is .283 with a .343 OBP, a .504 slugging and .847 OPS.

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Frederick Bencosme gets off to good start at Bowie (plus other minors notes)

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BOWIE, Md. - He is one of the Orioles young international players that has already worked his way among the club’s top 30 prospects. And middle infielder Frederick Bencosme, age 21 from the Dominican Republic, is off to a good start for Double-A Bowie.

Ranked as the club’s No. 27 prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 28 via Baseball America, Bencosme spent the entire 2023 season at High-A Aberdeen batting .246 with a .657 OPS.

This is a kid that clearly works hard to better his game and along those lines he spent two months in winter ball in the Dominican Republic with Aquilas Cibaenas. He went 3-for-10 in five games but spent a couple of months around the team, learning and gaining knowledge.

He said players like former big leaguer Melky Cabrera and current Chicago Cub Christopher Morel mentored him.

“I was working like four days a week in the weight room and practicing with them. It was a great experience. Melky was talking to me about pitcher strategies. And I also learned I have to understand what kind of hitter that I am," he said.

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O's game blog: O's host Minnesota in series opener

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After facing a hot-hitting Brewers team over the weekend - and losing two of three games - the Orioles welcome the Twins to town tonight to begin a three-game series that will wrap up the current homestand. 

The Twins (6-8) are in fourth in the American League Central, four games behind the division-leading Guardians.

Minnesota is batting .185 as a team through 14 games and that ranks 15th and last among all clubs in the American League and 30th and last in the majors. The Twins .281 OBP is 13th in the AL and they are 13th in slugging (.325) and OPS (.606). 

The Twins average 3.5 runs per game to rank 12th in the AL and 27th in the majors. They scored 20 runs in splitting four games over the weekend at Detroit. But they have scored three runs or fewer nine times and they have the fourth-highest strikeout total as batters in the AL at 147.

The Twins and Orioles are playing each other for the first of six games in 2024. Minnesota will host the O's for three games to complete the regular season from Sept. 27-29. The Twins went 2-4 vs. Baltimore last season, going 2-1 at Camden Yards and 0-3 at Target Field.

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O's Cedric Mullins and Dillon Tate talk about Jackie Robinson Day in MLB

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It’s Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball. Today, every player on every team is wearing No. 42.

Today MLB celebrates the 77th anniversary of the day that Robison broke baseball’s color barrier. On this date in 1947 he became the first black man to play in the majors when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, wearing No. 42.

O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins said he has been trying to find a way to hang onto his No. 42 jersey each year but the jerseys usually are auctioned off.

What does today mean to him?

“I think it’s about opportunity. That is what it boils down to” said Mullins. “At the end of the day, it’s about guys and players like myself to have the opportunity to play this game on the highest level.

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O's co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller on Colton Cowser's great start to the season

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Has there been a hitter with stats so radically different from one year to the next than Orioles outfielder Colton Cowser?

Maybe there has been, but when your OPS gains over 1.000 points, from .433 last year to 1.444 this year after Sunday’s game, that is a big leap up. And yes, the sample size is small in both seasons – he had 77 plate appearances last year and has 38 this season.

“Very proud of him, very happy with his adjustments. He took what we said into the offseason, worked with his coach back in Texas. Made great adjustments, not just the physical adjustments, but the mental adjustments too. Really confident at the plate and goes in with a great plan of attack,” O’s co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller said before Sunday’s game.

Cowser hit a solo homer in the last of the eighth yesterday to provide a big insurance run as the Orioles beat Milwaukee 6-4. He is the first Oriole with four homers in four games since Ryan Mountcastle from April 10-13, 2023. He is the first Oriole rookie to do that since Mountcastle from June 16-19, 2021.

Through Saturday's games, Cowser’s K rate had dropped year-over-year from 28.6 to 23.5 and his average exit velocity increased from 87.4 to 92.7 mph. His hard-hit rate, which was 42.5 last year is now 58.3.

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Jackson Holliday's first MLB hit keys winning rally, O's top the Brewers

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He had to wait until his third at-bat today and the 14th of his major league career, but Jackson Holliday’s first hit came in the last of the seventh today. And it helped fuel a game-winning, two-run rally for the Orioles.

With the O's trailing 4-3 after Milwaukee's Blake Perkins homered off Yennier Cano in the top of the seventh, Jordan Westburg led off the home seventh and punched a single into left.

Then Holliday had his big moment.

Off reliever Abner Uribe, he hit a 1-0 two-seamer at 99.3 mph into right field for a groundball single at 101.4 mph off the bat. Westburg scampered to third and a rally was brewing in Birdland. That hit made Holliday now 1-for-14.

Gunnar Henderson followed with a line single to right to score a run and tie it 4-4, and Holliday made a dash for third and beat the throw. That was important as the next batter, Adley Rutschman, grounded into a 6-3 double play. But because he was on third, Holliday scored the go-ahead run for the 5-4 lead.  

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O's game blog: O's have allowed 22 runs in this series

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Orioles pitchers have been roughed up by Milwaukee batters in the first two games of this weekend series as the Brewers have beaten the Orioles by 11-1 and 11-5 scores.

The Orioles (8-6) entered this series with a team ERA of 2.86. In the last two days it has increased to 3.87.

O’s starters Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer have allowed 16 hits and 12 runs in eight innings in the series. O’s pitchers have allowed five homers against Milwaukee.

As they try to avoid being swept today, the Orioles send their ace and former Brewer right-hander Corbin Burnes (2-0, 1.93 ERA) to the mound. The Orioles are 3-0 in his starts this season and 5-6 in all other games.

Through his first three games, Burnes has thrown 18 2/3 innings, allowing 12 hits and four runs with just two walks to 20 strikeouts. His WHIP is 0.750 and he has given up a batting average against of .176 and OPS of .494 to opponent batters.

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O's Kyle Bradish excited to begin his minor league rehab assignment

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After his latest bullpen session – which came Saturday at Camden Yards – Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish is ready to begin what is essentially his spring training.

He'll pitch his first minor league rehab game this week, perhaps just an inning or two as he continues his comeback and rehab from a UCL sprain which required a plasma-rich platelet injection in January.

“Yeah I’m excited. It will be nice to face some other jerseys,” Bradish said this morning in the Baltimore clubhouse.

With lefty John Means three outings into his rehab assignment and now Bradish ready to start his, the O’s have some real quality pitching reinforcements on the way.  

“It will be nice. Kind of treating this as my spring training," Bradish said. "Just working out some different mechanical things, but it will be nice to get in a game setting." 

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O's lineup for series finale with Milwaukee

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After playing in 10 games this season for Triple-A Norfolk and in his first three games after his call-up Wednesday in Boston, Jackson Holliday got a day off Saturday. But he returns to the lineup today, batting ninth versus Milwaukee in the series finale.

Holliday is 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts, two runs scored and an RBI thus far. He went 0-for-8 in two games at Boston and was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts on Friday night.

Holliday played in 15 games at spring training for the Orioles, batting .311/.354/.600/.954 with three doubles, two triples, two homers and six RBIs.

The Orioles have lost by scores of 11-1 and 11-5 in this series. Before this series began their first four losses of the season had come by eight total runs.

The Orioles lost 1 1/2 games in the standings to the first-place New York Yankees yesterday as New York swept a doubleheader at Cleveland.

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O's need a win today to avoid sweep against Milwaukee (plus more from Elias)

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Well, the Milwaukee Brewers are really swinging it right now. They were playing well before they got to Baltimore and have put up 22 runs over the first two games of this series.

Milwaukee has not lost a series this year and can sweep this one today after wins by 11-1 and 11-5 at Oriole Park.

The Brewers are now 10-3 after going 92-70 last year. They have been in the playoffs five times in the last six seasons, winning division championships in 2018, 2021 and 2023.

They have now scored seven runs or more in six consecutive games, tying a club mark first set in 1982 and matched in 1989. They have scored 58 runs in those six games and are now 7-1 on the road.

Heading into this series, O's pitchers had allowed as many as five runs in one game just twice this year. In this series their team ERA increased from 2.86 to 3.87.

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O’s Mike Elias on Holliday’s early struggles, Hays, Means and more

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Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias seems unconcerned that top prospect Jackson Holliday is still looking for his first big league hit after his first three games.

Baseball’s No. 1 ranked prospect is 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts after going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Friday night. Holliday did not start today against Brewers' lefty and former Oriole DL Hall.

Milwaukee won this afternoon 11-5 and the Orioles (8-6) need a win Sunday to avoid being swept. 

Elias, in an interview with reporters today in the Orioles dugout before the game, said Holliday’s first couple of series in Triple-A this year were “reassuring is the word I would use, those of us that were leaning toward adding him Opening Day with the thought he was ready.”

He was not on the Opening Day roster, but Holliday, 20, is here now and searching for hit No. 1.

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Colton Cowser's bat stays hot and Joey Ortiz on his return to Baltimore

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Different venue, same hot bat for Orioles outfielder Colton Cowser. On a night when the Orioles lost 11-1 to the Brewers, the rookie with the sweet lefty swing produced more offense for the Orioles.

Cowser is taking a one-day-at-a-time approach to put up big numbers so far this year.

“Looking forward to every day, having a fresh start, whether the night before was good or bad,” he said before the series opener.

Then he smoked a double at 103.5 mph in the first inning and hit a solo homer off winning pitcher Freddy Peralta that was 105.1 off the bat in the third.

Over the last four games, Cowser is 8-for-16 with seven extra-base hits (four doubles and three homers) and 11 RBIs. He has driven in a run in four consecutive games.

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O's game blog: A new homestand begins as the O's host Milwaukee

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After a three-game series sweep at Boston, the Orioles (8-4) begin a two-team, six-game homestand tonight versus the Milwaukee Brewers (8-3).

The Orioles begin play tonight 1.5 games behind New York for the AL East lead. Milwaukee and Pittsburgh are tied for first atop the NL Central, but the Brewers lead by percentage points.

Milwaukee was rained out Thursday at Cincinnati. They began the year going 3-0 at the New York Mets and have gone 1-1 versus Minnesota, and 2-1 each versus Seattle and Cincinnati.

Milwaukee has made the playoffs five times the last six years and went 92-70 last year. They won NL Central titles in 2018, 2021 and 2023. The Brewers have won three of their last four games and are 5-1 in road games.

Former Brewer right-hander Corbin Burnes, traded to the Orioles on Feb. 1 for DL Hall, Joey Ortiz and a draft pick, will pitch Sunday against his former team. Hall and Ortiz return this weekend with the Brewers. Hall is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in two starts and is scheduled to pitch tomorrow. In 10 games, Ortiz is 6-for-20 with a double, one RBI and a .767 OPS. He hit .212 (7-for-33) last year in 15 games with the Orioles.

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Jackson Holliday talks about playing his first home game tonight

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Jackson Holliday has been at Camden Yards before, but not as a player in the starting lineup. Tonight the 20-year-old No. 1 ranked prospect in baseball will play his third MLB game and first in front of the hometown Baltimore fans.

“It’s a pretty awesome place to be able to play,” he said this afternoon to a crowd of reporters, adding that he remembered being here before.

“I think it was when my dad (Matt) was with the Cardinals. Me and my brother came out here and shagged (BP fly balls). I remember thinking this is a really great place to hit.

"I remember being able to almost rob a home run because the wall was shorter before they moved it back and raised it about 100 feet. I do remember it and it’s very special be here,” the kid said showing he retains a sense of humor amid a flurry of interviews he has been doing.

“To be able to come to the ballpark and have a locker here, it’s definitely a little bit different. When I was with Aberdeen and Bowie, I came down to eat every now and then. But it’s definitely a different experience knowing this is home for now.”

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O's used late-inning lightning to sweep the Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox began this series with the Orioles riding high at 7-3 after a season-opening West Coast road trip. Their team ERA was 1.49 at first pitch Tuesday night, the club’s lowest mark through 10 games since the Live Ball era which began in 1920.

But in this series, in which the Orioles swept them three in a row, Baltimore produced 23 runs on 31 hits, hit five homers – four last night – and went 15-for-37 (.405) batting with runners in scoring position.

Last night was their sixth comeback win of the 2024 season and they outscored Boston in the series 19-2 from the sixth inning on.

The Orioles have put up big numbers later in games this year. In fact, through the fifth innings of their games so far, they have been outscored 28-23. But from the sixth inning on, they have outscored their opponents 47-14. So they are -5 in runs in the first five innings and +33 from the sixth inning on.

That is a remarkable stat.

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O's game blog: O's look to end road trip with a series sweep

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After taking the first two games at Fenway Park by scores of 7-1 and a comeback win by 7-5 last night, the Orioles can sweep this series with a win tonight over the Boston Red Sox.

It's a matchup of the second- and third-place teams in the American League East. The Orioles (7-4) are in second, two games behind the New York Yankees (10-3), while Boston (7-5) is in third place, 2 1/2 games behind the division leaders.

The Orioles are the first team this year to take a series from Boston, which went 2-0-1 in three series on the West Coast to start the year. The Red Sox were 6-1 their previous seven games heading into this series.

The Orioles have not lost a series against an AL East opponent since losing two of three to the Yankees April 7-9, 2023. Baltimore has not dropped a series in the division in 15 straight sets, improving to 11-0-4 during that time. That is the longest such run in team history, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Five of the Orioles' seven wins this season have been in comeback fashion. Last night they trailed 5-0 after five innings. Baltimore's 53 comeback wins since the start of last season are the most in the major leagues. Their 89 come-from-behind victories since the start of 2022 are second-most, behind the Dodgers (90).

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A resilient victory, as O's come from five runs down to win at Boston

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During my postgame show on WBAL Radio last night, a caller said the Orioles win showed they are resilient and can overcome adversity. Well, they indeed did do that in a 7-5 win over the Boston Red Sox.

They are now 7-4 overall, 3-2 on this road trip and won another series, and can sweep it tonight behind Grayson Rodriguez (2-0, 2.19 ERA) at Fenway Park.

Jordan Westburg has hit two homers this year - one was a walk-off at Camden Yards and last night it was a go-ahead homer in the top of the seventh. With his club down 5-4 and two men on, he blasted a two-out shot out to the left of center. It was a ball he hit 111.2 mph and drove it 432 feet. It turned a one-run deficit into a 7-5 lead which the Orioles would hold.

Westburg said he was just trying to keep the line moving when he got into one. 

“I just viewed all those situations as ways of our guys passing the bat back to the next guy, trying to string together innings, string together some runs, get back in the game,” he said. “It got up to me and I was kind of doing the same thing. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just trying to get the bat to the next guy in the lineup. And it just so happened that it went out."

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O's game blog: Jackson Holliday makes major league debut as O's play Red Sox

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It's the Orioles' 11th game of the 2024 season, but for 20-year-old Jackson Holliday, it's his big league debut. Less than two years since the O's selected him No. 1 overall in July 2022, Holliday is in the majors.

He will bat ninth and play second base tonight in Game 2 of this three-game series at Boston.

In 10 Triple-A games for Norfolk, Holliday, baseball's No. 1 ranked prospect, hit .333/.482/.595/1.077 with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs, 18 runs, 12 walks and eight strikeouts. He went 4-for-10 versus lefty pitching with two doubles and a homer for an OPS of 1.264.

While tonight he will bat ninth, he could eventually move into the leadoff spot for the Orioles. He batted leadoff for the Tides. When the lineup turns over tonight, Holliday, Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman will bat back-to-back-to-back.

Holliday will wear No. 7, not worn by any Oriole since the passing of Cal Ripken Sr. Bill Ripken and Mark Belander also wore No. 7. On MLB Network today, Bill Ripken said the Holliday family asked "very respectfully" if the Ripken family would be fine with Jackson wearing No. 7, as their dad once did and Holliday's dad, Matt, did in the majors. Ripken said they loved the idea.

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A stellar 10-game start for Orioles pitching (and Jackson Holliday is coming)

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As it turned out, No. 1 ranked prospect Jackson Holliday starting in the minors was not about service time. As he arrives today in the big leagues, he can still get a full year of service this season and can still get the O's a draft pick if he wins the Rookie of the Year award.

And while he was briefly on the farm, he got rolling as a hitter, got more experience playing second base and went 4-for-10 with two doubles and a homer against left-handed pitching. And without him the O's went 6-4.

All worked out pretty good, right?

In ten games with the Tides, the 20-year-old Holliday hit .333/.482/.595/1.077 with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs, 12 walks and eight strikeouts. He was controlling the zone, playing top-notch defense and now after just 32 Triple-A games (counting the playoffs), here he comes.

I imagine we will not see it at the outset, maybe he bats low in the lineup initially, but wouldn't it be something if Holliday hits leadoff followed by Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson. That would feature two 1/1 draft picks at the top and the last three No. 1 prospects in baseball.

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O's game blog: The Boston series begins at Fenway Park

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The Orioles (5-4) road trip continues this afternoon as they play the first of a three-game series against the Red Sox (7-3) at Fenway Park. The Orioles return home Friday night. 

Baltimore lost via walk-off losses in their last two games at Pittsburgh and they lost their first series of the year. They begin play today in third in the American League East and are three games back of division-leading New York and 1.5 games back of second-place Boston. 

Boston is playing its home opener after beginning the year with a West Coast road trip. The Red Sox went 2-2 at Seattle, 3-0 at Oakland and 2-1 in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels. Boston begins a nine-game homestand today.

Boston began the year 1-2 and is 6-1 since then. And they are 2-0-1 in series. The last time they won or split each of their first three series was in 2018, when they started 3-0-0. The last times the Red Sox won as many as seven of their first 10 games were 2021 (7-3), 2018 (9-1), 2015 (7-3), and 2006 (7-3).

The Red Sox have gotten off to an incredible pitching start, leading the majors with a 1.49 ERA. The Orioles are fifth at 2.85. Boston and Baltimore rank 1-2 in MLB in WHIP with Boston at 0.96 and the Orioles at 1.02. Boston’s .186 batting average against leads the majors while the Orioles are fifth at .214.

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