Orioles rally for two runs in eighth inning and avoid sweep (updated)


The sweep streak was almost destroyed by bats that couldn’t make solid contact.

The Orioles found other ways to avoid a loss. Some small ball, a slump reprieve and a painful plate appearance.

Twins reliever Jhoan Duran hit Jordan Westburg with two outs in the eighth inning after loading the bases, breaking a tie but no bones. The bullpen tossed four scoreless and the Orioles rallied for a 2-1 win before an announced crowd of 16,299 at Camden Yards.

Sonny Gray held the Orioles to two hits in six scoreless innings and the Twins led 1-0 going into the eighth.

Adley Rutschman reached on a tapper near the mound with one out, and Anthony Santander won a nine-pitch battle with a single into center field. Aaron Hicks tied the game with a single into center on a 102.6 mph fastball, becoming a hero in a game he was watching from the bench.

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As Cedric Mullins returned to lineup Saturday, Aaron Hicks stayed in it

Aaron Hicks white jersey

Continuing to make the most of his second chance with the Orioles, outfielder Aaron Hicks found himself back in the O’s starting lineup on Saturday afternoon against Seattle. That was big for him because, on the day Cedric Mullins returned to the team, he was both still on the roster and still getting at-bats.

In 28 games this year with the Yankees, Hicks’ OPS was .524. In 20 games with the Orioles through yesterday, it is .984. He had three multi-hit games with New York and has six with Baltimore.

And Hicks came up big again for the Orioles in the last of the sixth, hitting a go-ahead homer 426 feet to center for a 4-3 lead. That lead would not hold up, but on Ryan McKenna's two-run walk-off homer in the 10th the Orioles would beat the Mariners 6-4. 

The Orioles improved to 46-29 and moved to 4 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay, which lost. 

So Mullins was back, but Hicks was still in the starting nine. 

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Wells' season innings load, hot hitters lead win over Tampa Bay and farm notes


When I interviewed right-hander Tyler Wells (6-2, 3.20 ERA) a few days ago for this article, we also talked about a topic not included in the previous article. That is his innings load for this year.

At some point in the second half it will have to become a topic of discussion for the O’s front office and manager Brandon Hyde. How far can they push Wells with his innings total for this year? And keep in mind they hope he is still pitching in October too.

The most innings as a pro that Wells has pitched were 119 1/3 in the minors in 2018. At the big league level, his career most is the 103 2/3 innings he pitched for the Orioles last year. He is at 81 2/3 innings right now (17th most in the American League). At his current pace he would pitch around 186 innings this season.

For now, Wells has tabled any discussion or concerns about his innings load for this season.

“For me, I’m not even focused on it,” he told me in Chicago. “If they want me to take the ball, I’m going to take the ball. You know that is the kind of person I am. I did that last year, taking the ball as long as I am healthy. I don’t think I’m really focused on that. I trust that our medical staff is doing their part in it and I know that Hyder is always doing his part with that. I know that the front office is too. Whenever it becomes a talking point with them, and they want to address it with me I am always listening. But for me right now I’m not worried about it.”

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Homers and more Hays hits help Orioles to 8-6 win over Rays (updated)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Orioles couldn’t walk inside the dome today until they let the dust settle from the latest roster shakeup.

Make another change in the bullpen. Fiddle again with the backup catcher and 40-man roster.

Listen as the club creates beautiful music. Cover ears when it gets bad. Hold breath until it’s over.

The bats made loud sounds in the first two innings, with home runs by Aaron Hicks and Anthony Santander pushing the Orioles to a big early lead. It almost disappeared while the bullpen was rocked in the sixth, but Yennier Cano got three outs and Félix Bautista the last four for his 20th save in an 8-6 victory over the Rays before an announced crowd of 20,906 at Tropicana Field that included sections of orange behind the visiting dugout.

They, too, were loud.

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Orioles updates on Mullins, Mountcastle and more

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde isn’t certain when he can post a lineup with Cedric Mullins in center field and Ryan Mountcastle at first base or as designated hitter. He just knows that it’s getting closer.

That's good enough for now.

The duo is beginning an injury rehab assignment tonight with Triple-A Norfolk, which is playing in Nashville. Mullins is leading off and serving as DH, with Mountcastle right behind him in the order and starting at first base.

The rest of Norfolk’s lineup includes Colton Cowser in right field, followed by shortstop Jordan Westburg, left fielder Heston Kjerstad, second baseman Connor Norby, third baseman César Prieto, center fielder Hudson Haskin and catcher Maverick Handley.

Justin Armbruester, who joined Prieto from Double-A Bowie, is on the mound.

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In Chicago, the offense finally arrived as O's avoided the sweep


CHICAGO – It might feel like the Orioles have been struggling lately. They have, after all, lost back-to-back road series for the first time all year and they are 3-4 in their last seven series.

But by winning 6-3 Sunday at Wrigley Field over the Chicago Cubs, the Orioles avoided getting swept and have now won seven of their past 10 games. Yes, over that longer seven-series stretch they are 11-10. But even at a time when they are not winning at the same percentage as earlier and at a time when they are playing without Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle and yesterday Gunnar Henderson, they have won seven of 10 and have a better than .500 record while losing four of seven series.

Their offense was AWOL for most of Friday and Saturday, scoring five total runs. But a three-run sixth inning Sunday produced enough offense for a win. They did not get swept again – third time this season they lost the first two but won the third game of a series.

“Just keep going,” new outfielder Aaron Hicks said about avoiding the sweep. “Day-after-day, it’s a different day. To be able to turn the page and understand it’s a long season. In this game it’s all about winning series. If you lose the first two, make sure you get one out of there. That is kind of how you need to be, especially if you want to be a winning team and a team that goes far into the playoffs.”

Yep, keep grinding and get one win and they did.

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O's game blog: Looking for a victory in the series and homestand finale

jorge mateo swings grey

The Orioles (42-25) host the Blue Jays (38-31) today to wrap up a three-game series and a six-game homestand. The homestand began with the Orioles sweeping Kansas City and now they have split the first two games of this series.

Baltimore scored 11 runs each on Sunday and Tuesday, but where held to just six hits - all singles - last night in a 3-1 loss to Toronto. That result ended the Orioles' win streak at five in a row, two short of their season high. They fall to 4-1 this year against Toronto and to 13-11 versus the Blue Jays since the beginning of the 2022 season.

Toronto, which has won nine of 13 of and is 12-6 its past 18 games, is now 18-8 in its past 26 games at Oriole Park.

The Orioles are 6-4 in rubber match games and 3-2 when that game is against an AL East opponent. They have won three in a row within the division with rubber match wins over Boston, Tampa Bay and New York.

In their first four games this season against Toronto, Baltimore batters had produced 31 runs. But last night the Orioles were held without an extra-base hit for the third time this season. That also happened April 8 against the Yankees and June 7 against the Brewers.

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Hays on Orioles' depth, more on Henderson's homer streak, Baumann's inherited runners, and more


Austin Hays got past the illness that kept him out of the Orioles lineup prior to the last road trip. The bottle of Pedialyte in his locker yesterday was gulped more as a preventative measure with four day games in a row. Restore fluids and prevent dehydration.

Hays is trying to remain upright while teammates keep dropping around him.

Cedric Mullins is in Sarasota rehabbing from a strained groin. Ryan Mountcastle went on the injured list Tuesday with vertigo. Austin Voth went on the IL yesterday with elbow discomfort.

Reliever Danny Coulombe was unavailable recently due to illness, going eight days between appearances. Two other relievers, Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate, are on injury rehab assignments this week.

The tale would be much sadder except that the Orioles are winning. Five in a row before last night’s 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays. More than every team other than the Rays when the night began.

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O's game blog: Trying to keep it rolling in Game 2 against Toronto

bradish and rutschman

After scoring 11 runs in back-to-back games, the Orioles now have a five-game winning streak and have outscored their opponents 37-15 in that span. They are now 42-24 for the year and four games behind Tampa Bay for first place in the American League East.

The Rays (48-22, .686) have the best record in the majors and the Orioles are now No. 2. Their .636 win percentage would produce 103 wins over a full year of 162 games.

Their longest win streak of the season is seven in a row from April 16-24. The Orioles are 21-12 at both home and on the road. They are now 16-6 in series-opening games.

The Orioles have gone 4-0 against Toronto this season by a combined 31-15 score, and are 13-10 against them since the start of 2022.

Gunnar Henderson went 3-for-5 in Tuesday’s 11-6 win over Toronto and is now batting .246/.355/.475/.830 with an OPS+ of 130, which is 30 percent above league average.

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Orioles Odds and Ends

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Outfielder Aaron Hicks is expected to stay in the Orioles’ lineup tonight for the series opener against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards. His knack for reaching base is keeping him off the bench.

Hicks is 10-for-29 since the Yankees released him, with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven walks. He’s batting .345/.472/.586 and has gotten on base in all 10 games, collecting hits in seven of them.

Evidence began to surface that Hicks was heating up. He went 6-for-17 in his last seven games with the Yankees before they designated him for assignment, including a 3-for-4 night in Toronto from the bottom of the lineup.

What’s happening now is next level.

This is Hicks’ longest on-base streak since a 12-game run from Sept. 5-18, 2020. His four extra-base hits are one more than he registered in 28 games with the Yankees this season.

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Henderson 462-foot home run among highlights in Orioles sweep (updated)


The Orioles’ 22nd comeback win of the season was planted today in the top of the first inning, uprooted and planted again in the third. The team that digs in and finds a way.

The Royals used an opener while trying to avoid being swept. The Orioles used another variation of their lineup, sitting some regulars and toying again with the order.

Their methods keep working.

Josh Lester started at first base and broke a tie in the third with a two-run single, Gunnar Henderson hit a 462-foot three-run homer and came within a triple of the cycle, Ryan O’Hearn homered and reached base five times for the only time in his career, and the Orioles defeated Kansas City 11-3 before an announced crowd of 23,255 at Camden Yards. They’ve won four in a row to move 17 games above .500 at 41-24 for the first time since July 26, 2016.

Their 41st win last season came on July 8 in their 85th game. Today marked their first sweep of the Royals since 2017.

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O's game blog: Trying to get even in the series at Milwaukee

kremer gray pitching

The Orioles lost the opening game of a series five times in the month of May. They would win two of those series, lose two and split a four-game set against the Los Angeles Angels.

Last night’s 4-3 loss in 10 innings at Milwaukee was their sixth series-opening loss in the last nine such games. In May, the Orioles lost the series opener to both Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees, but won the last two games to take those series. They lost series openers – and later the series itself – against Texas and Cleveland.

They hit the 60-game mark last night, going 37-23, and now have 102 games remaining in the 2023 regular season. With a .617 win percentage, they hold the third-best record in MLB and are playing at a pace to win 100 games over a full year.

O's pitchers struck out a season-high 16 batters Tuesday night, their most since also fanning 16 in nine innings on Sept. 20, 2020 vs. Tampa Bay. The O’s staff, at 9.26 strikeouts per nine innings, ranks fifth in the American League in K rate behind Houston (9.67), Toronto (9.61), Minnesota (9.56) and the Chicago White Sox (9.47).

Outfielder Aaron Hicks hit a two-run home run in the second inning to tie the game, his first since joining the O's. He’s reached safely in each of his first five games with Baltimore and has hit safely in four of them, batting .400/.500/.733 (6- for-15) with one triple, one home run, five runs scored, three RBIs and three walks with two multi-hit efforts.

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Urías on playing in same game as brother, Hyde on sitting Mountcastle tonight

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MILWAUKEE – Ramón Urías will watch his younger brother tonight from the visiting dugout. He can wave toward the home side.

Urías started at third base last night, with Luis playing second for the Brewers. Ramón isn’t in the lineup while mired in a 2-for-25 slump. Luis also is sitting.

The brothers hadn’t played in the same major league game before, creating a unique experience for the family.

“It was a special moment,” Ramón said this afternoon. “We were looking forward to this game, and it was an exciting moment to be on the field.”

One that they dreamed about growing up in Mexico.

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Orioles lose late lead and extra-inning game to Brewers (updated)


MILWAUKEE – Kyle Gibson struck out Brice Turang on a curveball to end the bottom of the first inning and didn’t break stride on his way back to the dugout. He blew past catcher Adley Rutschman, who tried to meet him along the third base line and had to reach out to give him an encouraging pat.

The 35 pitches thrown and two runs allowed didn’t give Gibson much incentive to linger on the field.

With two outs in the eighth inning, reliever Yennier Cano snared a comebacker with an exaggerated snap of his glove, threw to first base and shook his head in disgust. Cano had his own frustrations, unable to hold onto a one-run lead.

By the end, players were filing into the clubhouse with a few heads bowed.

The Orioles couldn’t score against Peter Strzelecki in the top of the 10th, with pinch-hitter Josh Lester striking out to leave two on base, and Joey Wiemer singled off Austin Voth with two outs to bring home Andruw Monasterio and give the Brewers a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 22,535.

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Orioles pregame notes on Henderson, Urías brothers, Hicks and more

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MILWAUKEE – Gunnar Henderson took batting practice this afternoon and fielded ground balls to test his lower back.

Henderson remains out of the lineup but said earlier that he should be in the lineup Wednesday night.

“It’s getting better,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be back in there in the next day or two.”

Ramón Urías is starting at third base and batting seventh. Younger brother Luis is starting at second base for Milwaukee and also batting seventh.

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This, that and the other


The Orioles probably welcomed another reset yesterday before beginning a three-game series in Milwaukee, though they won two of three games in San Francisco. Step back, take a breath, assess your own situation, maybe look around the majors and remember how good you have it and that everyone is dealing with something.

Every team in the American League East is .500 or better, with the Red Sox dropping their third in a row yesterday to leave their record at 30-30. Only the first-place Twins are above .500 in the AL Central. The defending World Series champion Astros are in second place in the AL West. The wild card Mariners began yesterday in fourth.

The Mets spent a lot of money in the offseason and are in third place in the NL East, ahead of the pennant-winning Phillies. The rebuilding Nationals are last, but only nine games below .500.

I’ve seen worse.

What are the Cardinals doing in last place in the NL Central? Is it stranger than the Pirates moving into first last night?

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Orioles notes on Hays, Hicks, opener and more

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Austin Hays is out of today’s Orioles lineup against the Guardians because of an illness.

Ryan McKenna is in left field. Aaron Hicks is making his Orioles debut in center.

“Haysy’s a little bit under the weather today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Hopefully, he’s available to get some big hits for us late in the game. But going to start Mac in left today with the big park out there.

“Aaron’s a little bit more comfortable in center field as of right now and took balls off the bat in center yesterday, so that’s why we decided to go that way.”

The Orioles signed Hicks to a major league deal yesterday to replace center fielder Cedric Mullins, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a groin strain.

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Aaron Hicks talks about joining the Orioles

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The last time outfielder Aaron Hicks was an above-average hitter (going by OPS+, where 100 is league average), was the 2020 season. He had an OPS of .793 for the New York Yankees that year, which was 22 percent above league average. But his OPS since the 2021 season is .625, and that is 22 percent below the league norm.

He comes to Baltimore to try and help offset the loss of center fielder Cedric Mullins, on the injured list with a right groin strain.

Speaking to O’s media for the first time today, Hicks discussed his fall off at-bat since the 2021 season.

“It’s been rough, you know what I mean? Felt like I’ve had some good games here and then some bad games. Just about getting into a rhythm for me. Hopefully I get the opportunity to play every single day while Mullins is out and kind of get going to be able to solidify a spot,” he said.

“I’m excited to be here. It’s an exciting young team and excited to help them win. They are definitely young and they’re exciting. They come to play every single day.  

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Hicks in center field, Akin pitching as opener

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Aaron Hicks is starting in center field this afternoon, as the Orioles try to clinch the series win over the Guardians.

Hicks is batting sixth.

Keegan Akin is the opener, with Austin Voth working in bulk relief. Twenty-three of Akin’s 24 career starts came in 2020-21.

Adam Frazier is leading off again today. He’s reached base in 20 of 23 games since May 6 and in 24 of 26 starts since April 26.

Ryan McKenna is in left field and batting ninth.

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More thoughts on Orioles' decision to sign Aaron Hicks


The Aaron Hicks’ era in Baltimore, however long it lasts, began yesterday with reports that the Orioles were close to reaching an agreement on a major league contract. An obvious counterpunch to losing Cedric Mullins to a groin injury. One that statistically doesn’t seem to pack much of a wallop.

Hicks was seen at Camden Yards, walking with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias on the service level. Not long after that, the team announced the roster move.

The immediate reaction, a reflex assumption, was that Mullins would be lost for a considerable amount of time. Otherwise, just stick with Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna in center field, with a few infielders capable of handling the corners. Jorge Mateo can play center, too.

Bring up Joey Ortiz for infield depth. Select Daz Cameron’s contract and add a true center fielder.

Or, Aaron Hicks, who’s also a center fielder with 619 starts in the majors, along with 104 in left and 69 in right.

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