Navigating some Orioles numbers and roster rumblings

The Orioles close out their series in Kansas City this afternoon and board a charter for Atlanta, where they won two of three games at Truist Park in June 2018.

They claimed the series opener, which is their go-to move in 2023.

A win Friday night would make the Orioles 11-0 in the first game of a series, already the longest streak in club history to begin a season, according to STATS.

The old record was seven in April 1974, followed by five in April 1996.

Let us dig a little deeper.

The team record for most series opening wins in a row during any stretch of the season is 11 in May-June 1980, May-June 1978, and August-September 1974. The 1963 team also won 10 straight in July and August.

How do you know that a team is good? When records are referenced almost on a daily basis, and they’re positive.

Now you’re curious about the major league record for most series opening wins to start a season. I won’t leave you hanging.

It belongs to the 1907 Cubs at 19 in a row. The 1919 New York Giants are next with 12, followed by the 1973 San Francisco Giants and 1959 Indians with 11.

The Orioles are tied with the 1945 New York Giants, the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers, the 1940 Indians and the 1911 Tigers.

* The move to designate reliever Joey Krehbiel for assignment yesterday provides another example of the improved talent on the 40-man roster.

He would have been embedded in it during previous seasons, but the filler is finally reduced.

Krehbiel was cut loose, at least for now, to make room for catcher Luis Torrens on the 40-man roster. Torrens was acquired from the Cubs for cash considerations, a curious transaction considering that the Orioles appear set at the position.

They’ve been rotating taxi squad catchers because there’s a crowd at Triple-A Norfolk with Anthony Bemboom, Mark Kolozsvary and Maverick Handley. But Handley went on the injured list with a hand contusion and the Orioles might not carry a taxi catcher for the remainder of the road trip.

Having a third catcher on the major league roster reduces the risk of using one as the designated hitter, but how long would the Orioles stick with that arrangement? We don’t know. But the plan for now is to carry three of them.

Also, the Orioles like the idea of having Torrens as a right-handed bat on the bench.

A corresponding 26-man move is pending. Does Kyle Stowers get optioned again? Is it Ryan O'Hearn? Is there another possibility?

Here’s the current 40-man:

Keegan Akin
Bryan Baker
Mike Baumann
Félix Bautista
Kyle Bradish
Yennier Cano
Danny Coulombe
Noah Denoyer
Kyle Gibson
Logan Gillaspie
Mychal Givens
DL Hall
Cole Irvin
Seth Johnson
Dean Kremer
Cionel Pérez
Grayson Rodriguez
Drew Rom
Dillon Tate
Nick Vespi
Austin Voth
Spenser Watkins
Tyler Wells
Bruce Zimmermann

James McCann
Adley Rutschman
Luis Torrens

Adam Frazier
Gunnar Henderson
Jorge Mateo
Ryan Mountcastle
Ryan O’Hearn
Joey Ortiz
Ramón Urías

Austin Hays
Ryan McKenna
Cedric Mullins
Anthony Santander
Kyle Stowers
Terrin Vavra

* McCann had three hits and a game-tying RBI Tuesday night. Robinson Chirinos announced his retirement yesterday afternoon.

These two things have nothing in common, except Chirinos was the Orioles’ backup last season. Otherwise, it’s purely coincidental.

McCann registered his first multi-hit game with the Orioles and his first three-hit game since Oct. 5, 2022 with the Mets against the Nationals. His other three-hit display last year was on April 26 in St. Louis.

McCann is 3-for-18 at Camden Yards this season and 6-for-18 on the road. He’s been behind the plate for seven games and gone 4-for-23 with two homers, and thrown out two of five runners attempting to steal. He’s been the designated hitter in four games and gone 5-for-13 with a double.

He played first base last night in the eighth inning, the first time he's done it with the Orioles.

In Statcast pitch framing data, McCann is 15th in strike rate at 50.2 percent on 201 pitches and Rutschman was 24th at 48 percent on 635 pitches before last night.

* This one is random, but that’s why we’re here.

Before last night, Orioles leadoff hitters led the majors with 39 strikeouts. Urías was responsible for five on April 1 in Boston, and Hays struck out four times while going 0-for-6 Tuesday night in Kansas City.

The Orioles who were atop the order combined for 19 walks before last night that tied for second in the majors.

* Hays began last night batting .323/.373/.565 with three home runs in 67 plate appearances against right-handed pitching, and .243/.293/.405 with one home run in 41 plate appearances against lefties. He was on the bench against Royals right-hander Zack Greinke.

Last season, Hays hit .252/.303/.422 in 422 plate appearances against right-handers and .247/.313/.390 in 160 plate appearances versus lefties.

In his career, Hays was hitting .257/.310/.431 against right-handers and .266/.315/.455 versus lefties.

So, in conclusion, he’s really picked up his game against right-handers.

OK, one more: Hays was batting .422 with a .733 slugging percentage on fastballs, .189 with a .297 slugging percentage on breaking balls, and .176 with a .353 slugging percentage on off-speed pitches. His contact percentage was 83.3 on fastballs, compared to 67.7 on off-speed stuff and 60.3 on breaking balls.

Beware if you’re bringing the heat.

* Jordan Westburg hit his sixth home run last night for Norfolk, a three-run shot in the first inning, as part of a 3-for-5 performance. He’s batting .337 with a .972 OPS.

Colton Cowser went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is batting .324 with a 1.006 OPS. He extended his on-base streak to 23 games in a row.

Rom tossed six scoreless innings with only two hits allowed and a career-high 11 strikeouts to lower his ERA to 2.87.

Vavra started at third base but finished behind the plate with the Tides short a catcher.

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