The bullpen and defense are attracting the bulk of the credit for the Orioles’ turnaround in 2022. There’s also the timely hitting. The energy and confidence, which builds with each victory, that allows them to overcome deficit after deficit. Ingredients in a winning stew.
As the beat writers have learned, you can’t “write from the top” anymore after the Orioles fall behind early.
(They should have stuck to that strategy last night instead of scoring twice in the first inning. If it ain’t broke …)
The delete button is worn out. Paragraphs highlighted and blown out, statistics and records updated in the reverse.
To minimize Brandon Hyde’s impact as manager and leader would be the same kind of mistake.
The clubhouse has been united through this entire process and through the changing personnel. Players were adamant about Hyde being the “right guy” for the rebuild. That he could win with better talent.
That it would be grossly unfair if he wasn’t allowed to do it.
I’ve written and talked about the thin line that Hyde must walk between understanding and endorsing the rebuild and convincing the clubhouse that winning matters. To tune out the “it’s not about this year” talk relayed by the media.
How is this even possible, especially with deadline trades made from the sellers’ side?
Hyde does it. The Orioles keep playing hard for him, which helps to explain the 23 comeback wins. They’re quiet after the defeats and celebrate the successes with tremendous enthusiasm.
The home clubhouse after victories has a nightclub feel to it … from the ‘70s. Small disco-like strobe lights sit atop lockers, spinning colors and patterns onto the ceiling. There’s a bit of a smoky haze.
I don’t know whether to request an interview or ask about last call.
You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
Hyde loves the personality of this team, which also led it to bring back the Kangaroo Court that Hall of Famer Frank Robinson made famous so many decades ago. Trey Mancini recently pulled a slip of paper from the wooden box that sits on a table and, I’m assuming, scribbled his violation. Much to the delight of teammates, who just returned from a meeting.
I’ve covered divided teams over the years. Whether born from dislike, distrust and jealousy, or just cultural differences. Half the clubhouse for one group of players, the other half for the rest. That sort of thing.
Haven’t seen it in a long time. Certainly not with Hyde at the helm.
"They all get along so well,” Hyde told the media yesterday during his dugout scrum. “You can see the camaraderie. Our bullpen guys are super tight. I think that’s always extremely helpful. They’re pulling for each other so much.
“I felt that in the dugout starting about in the middle of May. That’s when I knew we had a chance to surprise some people and play good baseball. It's a nice dugout feel, and these guys are friends off the field as well."
He seems to be tested at every turn.
Two high-leverage relievers, Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott, are traded before opening day. Staff ace John Means undergoes Tommy John surgery. Bruce Zimmermann is demoted. Kyle Bradish goes on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez strains his lat before he can debut. Tyler Wells has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his left oblique, another blow to the rotation.
How much more of the load can the bullpen carry?
Grade 1 is good news. The word “oblique” is terrible. Would have been much better if the pain were confined to the lower back.
“Fortunately, it’s not too serious, but it’s going to take some time,” Hyde said. “Not sure about the timetable, but he’s going to miss some time.”
We’re not talking 15 days. Not even close.
Maybe it’s finally time to recall DL Hall, who could experience some growing pains because it’s a big jump from Triple-A to the majors and he’s human.
Hyde also could be running a much different club after 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Yes, the trade deadline.
Spenser Watkins starts Monday in Texas, followed by Jordan Lyles Tuesday and Bradish Wednesday. But will Lyles stay around for his turn? He’s one of the chips - needed now more than ever, but only if we’re dealing in the present and not thinking bigger rebuild picture.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias will check on available pitchers under team control beyond 2022, if he isn’t required to dip into the best batch of prospects. That won’t happen. And that certainly hurts his chances in a bidding war.
Elias loves the improvements he’s seen on the field, but he’ll move a veteran in the right deal.
Any team looking for a corner outfielder should be making offers for Anthony Santander. He’s eligible for arbitration again over the winter, so he isn’t a rental. Trading him would create room for Kyle Stowers.
You don’t hand over Santander, but his value is much higher than last summer.
Mancini could be gone. Maybe Rougned Odor. One or more relievers. Cedric Mullins isn’t out of the question. Again, in the right deals. And Mancini is headed toward free agency – forget the mutual option – so there’s more incentive.
If Hyde keeps this team in contention, he’s got to receive some votes for American League Manager of the Year. The ballots allow for three names.
The American League Beast, as it’s called, isn’t quite as scary right now with injuries ravaging Tampa Bay’s roster and the Red Sox in last place after losing 13 of their last 16 games. Their last series win was June 24-26 in Cleveland.
Bad times never seemed so bad.
Seattle’s Scott Servais might finish first if the voting ended today, though there’s also Minnesota’s Rocco Baldelli and the Yankees’ Aaron Boone. Arguments could be made for a few others.
There’s a lot of season left, as Hyde reminds us whenever there’s talk about the wild card race, but he also belongs in this discussion on the final day of July.