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.

Bird Bath zone has players’ liking: The Bird Bath splash zone debuted over the weekend for the Pittsburgh series with fans selling out Section 86 next to the Orioles bullpen and enjoying getting doused with water after Orioles extra-base hits. The section of fans created some funny moments. produced some good energy in the ballpark and allowed O’s fans to perhaps have a closer connection to their team.

“It was great crowds. Bird Bath section was full,” left fielder Austin Hays said yesterday before the game. “We’ve got some weekday night games here so hopefully the people can come out to sit in the Bird Bath in left center.

“Yeah, I think we have some things we are as players having a lot of fun with what we’ve got going. So having something that connects the fans to that, so we’re all kind of doing it as one, I think that is great for Camden Yards and just good for our fan to be able to celebrate with us.”

Cowser was in the zone: It was a zone of a different kind, but Triple-A outfielder Colton Cowser has been in the zone for an extended stretch. Monday he was named the Player of the Week in the International League.

During last week’s six-game series at Jacksonville, Cowser went 11-for-22 batting .500 with two doubles, two homers, eight walks and five RBIs. He had four multi-hit games including going 3-for-3 with two homers last Thursday. The Tides went 4-2 during the week scoring 38 runs. Norfolk is 28-10, which is the best record in the International League and is scoring a league-leading 6.92 runs per game and leading the IL with an .867 OPS.

As for Cowser, the Orioles top draft pick in 2021, No. 5 overall out of Sam Houston State, he hit .436 in May and leads the IL in OBP at .477 and with 43 runs.

Not bad considering he started the year going 3-for-30 (.100) over his first seven games. Now, through 36 games for Norfolk, he is batting .336/.477/.567/1.044 with seven homers and 28 RBIs. If Cowser stayed with Norfolk all year, he’s on pace to play 142 games, recording 178 hits, 170 runs, 32 doubles, four triples, 28 home runs, 111 RBIs and 136 walks in 687 plate appearances.

If he were to maintain this pace, he would top the franchise records in runs (Randy Milligan, 99 in 1987), walks (Pepe Manqual 126 in 1977), RBIs (Clint Hurdle with 105 in 1983) and hits (Kevin Elster with 170 in 1987).

Meanwhile, Double-A Bowie pitcher Cade Povich was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. He threw a five-innings scoreless start on three hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts last Thursday at Harrisbug.

In six games with Bowie on the year, the lefty is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and has walked 10 and fanned 44 allowing 21 hits over 26 2/3 innings. He has a 1.16 WHIP and .210 opponent batting average.


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