O's pregame notes on Fujinami, Cowser's struggles, Rays' trade and more

TORONTO – Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami entered in the sixth inning last night and pitched two scoreless in the Orioles' win over the Yankees. His fastball again touched 100 mph and his splitter got swings and misses at 93 mph.

That is three straight scoreless with the Orioles for Fujinami, who will continue to get action in high-leverage spots.

“The way he is throwing the ball the last few times, it’s going to be in big spots,” manager Brandon Hyde said today in advance of the series opener at Toronto. “He’s got incredible stuff. A fantastic arm. He showed it again last night with two really good innings. If he can be kind of that bridge guy to Félix (Bautista) it would be fantastic. But his last few appearances, he’s shown great stuff and we’re excited about him.”

The 29-year-old Fujinami was scored on in his first two Baltimore appearances. But his last three have produced 4 1/3 scoreless innings on one hit with seven strikeouts and a .330 OPS against. Last night he got four whiffs on six swings against his splitter.

Would Hyde consider extending him to three innings in some games?

“He hasn't thrown that many innings in quite a while (since he was starting in April) since they moved him to the bullpen in Oakland," Hyde said. "I’d possibly consider in dire straights or a certain circumstance, but right now I’d like to keep him an inning or two if I could.”

As the Orioles return to Rogers Centre, they return to a building where they swept a three-game series in May. That was nice Hyde said, but means little as the clubs start a new series here tonight.

“No (help now),” he said. “That was such a long time ago. We’ve played a lot of baseball since then. Feel like we haven’t see these guys in a while. It’s a really good team and they just added Jordan Hicks. They have a lot to be excited about and we have to play well to beat them.”

Hyde was asked today about rookie Colton Cowser’s struggles. Cowser, who is batting eighth tonight and playing again in center field, is batting .106 with a .399 OPS over his first 18 major league games. He has just one hit in his last 17 at-bats over a seven-game span.

“There is nothing like facing major league pitching," Hyde said. "It doesn’t matter what your Triple-A numbers are. It’s a completely different level. The stuff you are seeing is just different and it takes time to adjust for some guys. Colton is going to be a really good major league player who is going through a slow start from a results standpoint.

“He walked a lot early, which I think was keeping him afloat and getting on base is really important. The last couple of games kind of gotten away from that a little bit by trying to get hits. Instead of taking the same approach. That is young player stuff that he is going through. That is very normal."

The Rays, who trail the Orioles by 1 1/2 games in the American League East, made a deal with the Guardians today. The Rays added pitcher Aaron Civale, who is 5-2 with a 2.34 ERA for first base prospect Kyle Manzardo. 

"Teams are going to be adding and that is what happens this time of year," Hyde said. "You watch around the league and see what's going on. We have five teams in our division that are over .500. Interesting to see what is going on around the league." 

In a Florida Complex League game today, lefty Keegan Akin threw an inning and allowed four hits and three runs. Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. 

The Orioles' Chayce McDermott of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides is the International League Pitcher of the Week. He threw five scoreless in his most recent game. Single-A Delmarva pitcher Luis De Leon is the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after a six-inning scoreless outing, allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts. 

O's game blog: The series opener at Toronto
Orioles lineup in Toronto (plus notes)

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