O's game blog: The series finale, plus minor league honors

After a 5-3 win behind Kyle Bradish’s seven-inning, 11-strikeout performance followed by a 10-1 loss last night, the Orioles wrap up their series in St. Louis this afternoon. Right-hander Bryan Baker will start and pitch as an opener in the series finale.

The Orioles are 3-1 in rubber match games, losing against Milwaukee but posting wins against the Yankees, Red Sox and Royals.

Baltimore is 13-18 through 31 games, and has won five of seven and seven of the last 11 games. The Orioles are 10-10 over the past 20 and 6-4 in May. They are 2-3 versus National League teams, going 1-2 against Milwaukee and 1-1 versus St. Louis. The Orioles are 4-11 in road games and 1-3 in road series, winning one in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels.

Baker (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will start today’s game for Baltimore, making his 12th appearance of the season but first as a starter. He has thrown 10 innings, allowing 11 hits and six runs, and recording two walks and 11 strikeouts. He has a 1.300 WHIP with a 1.8 walk rate and 9.9 strikeout rate. He has thrown seven scoreless outings, but his longest outing is 1 2/3 innings and his highest pitch count in any game is 24.

Over his past four games, he has allowed three hits and one run in 2 2/3 innings. Lefty batters hit .231 with an OPS of .692 against him, and right-handed batters are hitting .308/.665.

Minor league honors: The Orioles announced today that infielder César Prieto of high Single-A Aberdeen is their Hitter of the Month for April, and that Double-A Bowie right-hander Ryan Watson is Pitcher of the Month.

Prieto played in 19 games for the IronBirds and missed about a week with a hamstring injury, but returned to the lineup last night. He is batting .329/377/.686/1.063 with four doubles, seven homers and 17 RBIs with 11 runs scored. Even though he has missed time he leads the O’s farm in home runs with one more than teammate Coby Mayo, and he ranks fifth in RBIs.

Watson, a non-drafted free agent signed out of Auburn after the 2020 draft, has pitched well for the Baysox. He started his season throwing eight hitless and scoreless innings over two outings. In five games, Watson is 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA. Among O’s farm pitchers with 20 or more innings, that ERA ranks second in the organization behind Juan De Los Santos of low Single-A Delmarva at 1.67. Watson has allowed just 13 hits in 23 2/3 innings, with five walks to 28 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 0.76, allowing an average against of .160.

Watson has shown a fastball sitting between 93 and 96 mph this year and a slider that has been a nice swing-and-miss pitch for him.

He is proving to be yet another nice addition that the club brought on after that shortened 2020 draft, which was just five rounds. Watson pitched at Auburn University and had a 1.23 ERA in 7 1/3 innings to start his senior year in 2020 before the pandemic ended that season. He had been drafted in the 39th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school, but didn’t sign. A few years later, the Orioles would get him.

“There were a couple (of teams showing interest in me in 2020),” he said during a recent interview. “But Baltimore was definitely the one showing the most interest and the one I had the most contact with before signing in ’20. So, it was a no-doubter for me who I was going to sign with after the shortened COVID season and the shortened draft.”




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