Pregame notes on Fuji's rough outing, Flaherty's debut, Santander's award and more

TORONTO – He had three lights out games before last night, but his performance Wednesday led directly to the Orioles’ 4-1 loss against Toronto. Manager Brandon Hyde is trying to figure out how reliever Shintaro Fujinami can become more consistent with his command and control. And pitch without feeling too much pressure as well.

In three games before this one, he had thrown 4 2/3 scoreless with seven strikeouts. Then he came on in the sixth with two on and two outs and walked his first batter and then hit two in a row as Toronto took the lead without getting a hit.

“It’s a balancing act. You just try to do the best you can," said Hyde. "There is no real soft landing in the big leagues. Especially in August and you are trying to win and most of our games are close. It’s not ’19, ‘20 or ’21 here now. We’re trying to win games. And you do the best you can to try and put guys in position to have success. Try to have good conversations. Try to make guys relax as much as possible and make them feel good about themselves. Try to give them confidence as much as possible. But it’s their job to perform. We’re looking for guys that can help us win right now."

Right-hander Jack Flaherty (7-6, 4.43 ERA) makes his O’s debut today after the club acquired him Tuesday just minutes ahead of the trade deadline.

Flaherty went 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.416 WHIP in five July starts. In 13 starts since he gave up 10 runs in an early May game, he is 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA over 75 1/3 innings. He has six quality starts in that span.

“There is naturally going to be some nerves," stated Hyde. "It’s helpful he has pitched in big games before in a big market. Pitched in postseason games. I think he’ll be able to calm himself down. Wants to do well in front of his new teammates.”

Hyde was asked if the O’s pitching coaches are already providing some input and help for Flaherty.

“I just think it’s pretty much of a kind of get to know a guy that’s been around for a while. Our guys have shared stuff that they do. It’s kind of a back and forth right now,” he said.

What about working with a new catcher today in Adley Rutschman.

“There is a bit of a give and take. I mean, he’s got the ball in his hands. His start. We’ll give suggestions. But catching someone for the first time in a big league game, for a guy that’s been around for a while, you are relying a lot on him to feel comfortable and throw what he wants to throw,” said Hyde.

Colton Cowser is not starting today with righty Kevin Gausman on the mound for Toronto. He will get a few days off, said Hyde and he added Gausman is traditionally a reverse splits guy.

“Kind of let Cowser get some extra work in. He did some early BP yesterday. Let him relax a little bit,” he said.

The O’s Anthony Santander is the Orioles’ Heart and Hustle Award winner. The overall winner will be announced in November on MLB Network.

The award honors “active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” It’s the only award in Major League Baseball that’s voted on by former players.

“Real excited for him. He has earned recognition,” Hyde said. “He just brings so much passion to our team. People don’t see the hours he puts in the training room, the weight room, the cage, his preparation. He’s a total pro and it’s been fun watching him develop and grow as a major league player. He plays the game with joy, passion and energy. Heart, hustle – that’s pretty much who he is. Excited he’s our nominee and deserves to win.”

Baltimore’s 2023 second round draft pick, UNC’s Mac Horvath, made his pro debut today in the Florida Complex League, playing third base. He went 1-for-1 with a single, two walks and scored twice as the Orioles beat Boston 7-0. He is going to play some infield and outfield this season.

The Orioles listed pitchers for the series with the New York Mets that begins tomorrow at Oriole Park are Dean Kremer (10-4, 4.66 ERA) Friday, Kyle Gibson (10-6, 4.53 ERA) on Saturday and Kyle Bradish (7-6, 3.32 ERA) on Sunday.

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