Leftovers for breakfast

BOSTON – The Orioles had some lineup intrigue yesterday, withholding it much later than usual to ascertain the health of a couple players. They also announced an unrelated roster move less than an hour before first pitch.

Can’t rush the process.

Reliever Keegan Akin was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk one day after facing a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the 11th inning against the Astros and surrendering four runs.  

The club provided some context, passing along that the Orioles needed a fresh arm and plucked Logan Gillaspie from the taxi squad, and it was a tactical maneuver based on certain matchups down the road.

Akin’s performance didn’t influence the decision, though there’s been a noticeable decline.

The left-hander allowed eight earned runs and nine total this month with 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings. He registered a 2.36 ERA and 0.881 WHIP in 24 games in the first half and a 5.79 ERA and 1.586 WHIP in 18 games in the second.

His 74 1/3 innings in relief were third-most in the majors last night. His two-plus innings in 25 of 41 appearances were second-most.

Pitchers who are optioned must stay down 15 days unless replacing an injured player, and the Orioles have nine games left. Teams no longer bring back a player after an affiliate is done.

It might not matter anyway, considering the matchups that prompted the option.

This is an interesting twist to Akin’s season, after he was scored upon only twice in his first 13 appearances. And after he set the major league record for relievers by working two or more innings in his first 19 games. None of the Orioles have gone more than 10.

Akin has thrown 807 of 1,161 pitches for strikes, a 69.5 percentage that’s second-best in the majors and first among relievers with a minimum of 1,000.

* The Most Valuable Oriole award will be presented next week at Camden Yards, while the club plays its final series of 2022.

The season will be whittled to three games against the Blue Jays. Seems like only yesterday that we were pouring over the opening day roster that manager Brandon Hyde revealed outside the baseball operations building in Sarasota.

Where did the time go?

The media was allowed to put three players on the MVO ballot and I’m certain that Anthony Santander’s name appeared on many of them.

Santander seemed to get lost a bit in the excitement over Adley Rutchman, and later Gunnar Henderson. Kyle Stowers made his major league debut, as well, hitting one of the more dramatic home runs in recent years on Aug. 25, with the Orioles down to their last strike against White Sox All-Star closer Liam Hendriks.

An ideal scenario for a first major league homer, tying the game before the Orioles won in 11 innings.

Meanwhile, Santander leads all major league switch-hitters with 31 home runs. He’s set a club record by homering from both sides of the plate three times in the same game.

Some very loud contact that, to me, was done quietly in comparison to the fuss made over other players.

“He’s had a really consistent year,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Santander delivered Nos. 30 and 31 last night. “I just think the switch-hitting power ability is pretty rare. I think he’s leading the major leagues in home runs for a switch-hitter. That’s so hard to do.

“When you hit 29 homers, it’s hard to be quiet about it. I think that he’s had a really good year, and hopefully he can finish strong.”

Santander is the first Orioles switch-hitter to reach 30 since Eddie Murray in 1987 and only the third in club history. He’s walloped multiple homers in four games this season to raise his career total to nine. The most recent binge before last night came Saturday in a wild 11-10 loss to the Astros.

Here’s an odd stat: The Orioles were 0-8 when it happened before last night’s win.

They didn’t want to discourage him from doing it.

* Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann was the first Maryland native this year to start the Orioles’ home opener since Dave Johnson in 1990. A feel-good story with its local angle and all. And Zimmermann earned the chance to break camp in the rotation.

Being the No. 4 starter just happened to line up perfectly after the Orioles’ three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

The rest of the season didn’t play out as nicely for the Ellicott City native.

Zimmermann made 13 starts this season and 15 appearances overall. None of the starts came after June 15.

The Orioles recalled Zimmermann on July 9 and optioned him the next day after a scoreless innings with two hits against the Angels. He also was recalled between games of the Sept. 5 doubleheader against the Blue Jays to pitch behind Akin, an emergency starter, and allowed five runs and eight hits, with three homers, in six innings.

The rotation moved on without Zimmermann, but it could swing back and pick him up next spring.

Zimmermann posted a 3.77 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) with Norfolk. He tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings with three hits, no walks and eight strikeouts on Aug. 30, and he’s allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last three starts, two of them quality by definition.

“I think that we went with the rotation that we had and guys have pitched well and we’ve been winning games,” Hyde said. “I think Zimm’s a guy that we’ll look at again next spring.”

* Catcher Cam Gallagher was a Cal Ripken Jr. fan, growing up in Lancaster, Pa. and following the Orioles and Phillies.

“When he broke the streak,” Gallagher said yesterday, “I think I was there two games before.”

Gallagher wouldn’t have any memories of it. He was three months shy of his third birthday.

Take the parents’ word for it.

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