O's game blog: The season opener against Boston (plus AAA roster)

The Orioles begin their 70th major league season today, playing their season opener at Boston’s Fenway Park for the third time in the last four years. The Orioles open with six games on the road – three in Boston and three at Texas – before their home opener a week from today versus the New York Yankees.

The Opening Day pitching matchup features two veteran right-handers making debuts with their new clubs. Between them, the Orioles' Kyle Gibson (10-8, 5.05 ERA for Philadelphia in 2022) and Boston’s Corey Kluber (10-10, 4.34 ERA for Tampa Bay) have combined for 512 career starts and a combined 3,090 2/3 innings.

Kluber has made 251 starts, throwing 1,586 2/3 innings, with Gibson at 261 starts and 1,504 innings.

The Orioles, who lost 2-1 in Florida versus Tampa Bay in the 2022 opener, are opening away from home for the fifth season in a row. They are 44-25 all-time in openers and 12-12 when they open on the road. The Orioles won on Opening Day eight straight seasons from 2011-2018, but are 1-3 in the last four opening games. At Fenway Park they lost 13-2 in the 2020 opener and won 3-0 on Opening Day 2021. Overall they are 9-3 in their last 12 season openers.

Baltimore and Boston have squared off on Opening Day 10 times, with the Orioles holding a 7-3 advantage (5-1 in Baltimore and 2-2 at Boston).

Gibson, 35, threw 167 2/3 innings last year for Philadelphia and then pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the team in the postseason. He produced a regular season WHIP of 1.336 and gave up 9.4 hits per nine innings and 1.3 homers while recording a 2.6 walk rate and 7.7 strikeout rate.

This is his second start in a season opener, and the first did not go well. He lasted just one out and allowed four hits and five runs with three walks for Texas at Kansas City on April 1, 2021. He threw just 32 pitches that day, exited with an ERA of 135.00. The Royals won the game 14-10.

A solid groundball pitcher in his career, Gibson had a 46.5 groundball rate last year and has a 51.8 career rate. Keeping the ball on the ground often has helped him post a 1.08 career home run rate.

In his career versus American League East teams, Gibson is 21-19 with a 4.56 ERA in 306 innings. In eight career starts versus Boston, he is 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA over 50 2/3 innings. Red Sox batters have hit just .208/.276/.328/.604 against him. In four career games at Fenway Park he is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA, and Boston batters have batted just .143/.184/.265/450 in that quartet of games.

The Orioles went 38-43 (.469) on the road last year, their best road record since going 39-42 (.481) in 2016. They hit 92 of their 171 home runs on the road, the sixth-most in the AL and 13th-most in the major leagues. That marked Baltimore’s most road home runs in a season since 2019 (99) and the first time since 2005 that the O’s hit more home runs on the road than they did at home (93 at home, 96 on the road).

The Orioles went 34-42 (.447) against AL East foes, their most wins and best winning percentage against the division since going 37-39 (.487) in 2017. They went 20-18 against the division at home and 14-24 on the road. That was the first time since 2017 (20-18) that the O’s had a winning record against the AL East at home.

The O’s dropped the season series to each AL East opponent: Boston Red Sox (9-10), New York Yankees (7-12), Tampa Bay Rays (9-10) and Toronto Blue Jays (9-10), but the season series against the Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays were not decided until the final game of each. In 2022 against Boston, the Orioles were 5-4 at home and 4-6 at Fenway Park.

Kluber made 31 starts for Tampa Bay last season, and six of those were against the Orioles. He went 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA and 1.550 WHIP. He is 6-4 with a 3.94 ERA in 16 career games versus the Orioles.

Roster is set: The Orioles got down to the 26-man roster limit today by putting James McCann (10-day), Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate (15-day) and John Means (60-day) on the injured list. They optioned relleiver Joey Krehbiel to Triple-A. They selected the contract of catcher Anthony Bemboom, who will wear No. 37.

Six Orioles make an Opening Day roster for the first time. They are Kyle Bradish, Logan Gillaspie, Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra.

Tides roster: Here is the break-camp roster for the Orioles’ Triple-A Norfolk Tides team. The Tides begin their 53rd season in the International League at 6:35 p.m. Friday night when they play at Durham. After three games there this weekend, Norfolk opens its home season at Harbor Park on Tuesday night versus Gwinnett. 

The current Tides roster includes 10 players currently on the Orioles 40-man roster and nine players currently ranked among their top 30 prospects by Baseball America. It includes 10 players that MLBPipeline.com ranks in the team's top 30. Norfolk has six players ranked currently in the Baseball America top 100 list. 

Pitchers: Eduard Bazardo, Yennier Canó, Ryan Conroy, Noah Denoyer, Kyle Dowdy, Reed Garrett, DL Hall, Darwinzon Hernández, Joey Krehbiel, Morgan McSweeney, Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Rom, Phoenix Sanders, Chris Vallimont, Nick Vespi, Spenser Watkins, Ryan Watson, Bruce Zimmermann.

Catchers: Maverick Handley, Mark Kolozsvary.

Infielders: Greg Cullen, Lewin Díaz, Cadyn Grenier, Josh Lester, Connor Norby, Ryan O’Hearn, Joey Ortiz, Jordan Westburg.

Outfielders: Daz Cameron, Colton Cowser, Shayne Fontana, Hudson Haskin.

This roster includes three of the O’s top five players as ranked by Baseball America, and six of the top 10. They are Rodriguez (No. 2), Cowser (No. 4), Hall (No. 5), Westburg (No. 6), Norby (No. 7) and Ortiz (No. 8).

Baseball America ranks Denoyer as No. 22, Rom as No. 24 and Haskin as No. 26.

The Orioles have not yet released rosters for their three other full-season minor league clubs: Double-A Bowie, High-A Aberdeen or low Single-A Delmarva. Those teams do not open their new seasons until April 6. Those rosters are coming later. 

The Tides break-camp roster lists 32 players right now, and they must be at the roster limit of 28 by first pitch tomorrow night.

Rutschman's first Opening Day is one for the recor...
A look at Triple-A Norfolk's break-camp roster

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