DETROIT – The win-now and develop-now attitude of the 2023 Orioles was on display again yesterday at Comerica Park.
DL Hall had a locker inside the visiting clubhouse and a relief role in Game 1 of the doubleheader. One of their top prospects removed from Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation and plopped into a major league bullpen, where he isn’t supposed to belong.
The Orioles are developing Hall as a starter. Didn’t want to switch his role again breaking camp. Couldn’t stretch him out any other way than by optioning him.
But there he was, replacing Dean Kremer yesterday in the bottom of the sixth inning and covering the last three in a 7-4 loss. He allowed two runs but struck out seven batters.
“We’re trying to win games,” said manager Brandon Hyde, repeating a line that might be worthy of the next T-shirt giveaway.
It comes up a lot.
The aggression in bringing up top young players is hard to miss. Joey Ortiz was a surprise recall to begin the series, his right-handed bat viewed as more useful than Terrin Vavra’s left-handed bat, which produced five hits last night in Charlotte. Never mind that Ortiz might be a short timer. He fit in these circumstances.
Hall fit, as well, with the Orioles allowed to add someone for the doubleheader and needing coverage in case of short starts.
“It’s great,” Hyde said. “Bring up DL Hall as your 27th man, that’s a good feeling. … He’s stretched out as a starter, he closed at Yankee Stadium last year. There’s a lot of things we can do with him.”
Including how they optioned him back down to Norfolk after Game 2.
The life of a 27th man isn’t all glamour.
* Ortiz started both games at second base, but he could be on the bench today against right-hander Spencer Turnbull.
The city of Detroit always will hold a special place in Ortiz’s heart.
“I’ve never been here,” he said. “I love it now.”
The rainout allowed Ortiz to hang out with his parents and girlfriend, who made the trip.
“It was definitely a welcomed off-day,” he said.
“It was nice. To be able to spend the day with my family, be here in Detroit and know I’m finally here with the team is definitely exciting.”
* Ryan Mountcastle singled twice yesterday in Game 1 and had another single in Game 2, putting the ball where no one could break his heart.
Right fielder Matt Vierling charged Mountcastle’s liner in the third inning in the opener and made a diving catch with Austin Hays on first base and one out. Mountcastle turned back toward the dugout and again had to wonder why these things keep happening to him.
“He needs to hit the ball a little softer in front,” Hyde quipped. “He’s got bad aim, too. He’s got terrible aim when he hits the ball and that’s something we need to work on.”
* The Orioles were subjected to 18 innings yesterday and close out the series today at 1:40 p.m. They’ll board a flight to Kansas City after eating and showering. Or in whatever order. It can vary.
Who are the high-energy guys in the dugout who help to push teammates through a long day? Hyde started with Ryan McKenna and James McCann.
“I think Mac’s up there. Mac is our loudest dugout guy. He and James McCann. McCann does a great job with keeping the guys engaged,” Hyde said.
“Our coaches do a great job. There’s a ton of positive support. Our hitting guys.”
I suggested Anthony Santander.
“Santander will just blurt out occasionally,” Hyde said. “It’s not like the solid, consistent nine innings of cheering. It’s in big moments. He picks his spots. He’s a pick his spots type of guy. McKenna’s like nine innings of, ‘Let’s go team.’ Santander picks his spots a little bit.”
McKenna didn’t suddenly become more vocal this season.
“That happened last year,” Hyde said. “I think Robinson Chirinos, (Rougned) Odor rubbed off on him, and he has picked up where he left off last year.”
* Norfolk set a franchise record last night with 24 hits in a 20-1 victory.
Colton Cowser doubled twice, had three hits and four RBIs, and extended his on-base streak to 20 games.
Jordan Westburg had three hits and three RBIs.
I asked Hall about Cowser and Westburg, and he replied, “Unbelievable. Those guys can swing it.”
“It’s a fun team down there, a lot of excitement, a lot of good players,” he said. “It’s awesome.”