Orioles pregame notes on McCann's hand, weekend rotation, Flaherty update, Coulombe's return and Pérez,

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Backup catcher James McCann isn’t in the Orioles’ lineup despite his impressive numbers against Blue Jays starter José Berríos. He usually sits against a right-hander, but he’s also recovering from the 98 mph fastball that slammed into the side of his left hand during Tuesday night’s game.

“It’s good,” said McCann, who’s 8-for-24 with two doubles and four home runs against Berríos. “Soreness is a lot better today. Now, it’s just an open wound from the blood blister.”

McCann keeps proving his toughness. He’s gone on the injured list twice with oblique strains but has endured lots of punishment and kept playing.

He’s become a master at laying down bunts on fastballs near his face.

“I give thanks to God every day when something like that happens and I come out of it unscathed,” he said. “I guess there’s a little bit of an innate toughness, but other than that, it’s by the grace of God.”

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Now fully healthy, 'pen lefty Danny Coulombe is ready for stretch run

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He hasn’t pitched for the Orioles since Aug. 5, but they will be thrilled to have one of their high-leverage relievers back tonight. Lefty Danny Coulombe (left bicep tendinitis) was activated off the 15-day injured list and Nick Vespi was optioned back to Triple-A.

Coulombe has been a great addition for the Baltimore bullpen, going 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 47 games. Over 39 innings he has allowed 34 hits with nine walks to 48 strikeouts and with a 1.103 WHIP.

Late in a long season, getting a few days to rest his arm was not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think the bicep tendinitis thing, it was probably something I only needed a few days for," said Coulombe this afternoon. "But honestly at this point, it was one of those things we felt it was best to give me the 15 days and be ready for the stretch run. I think it’s going to be good. Just really exciting to get going now this last month and a half two months."

Coulombe made one rehab appearance and threw a hitless and scoreless inning with two strikeouts Tuesday night for Triple-A Norfolk.

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Coulombe reinstated from injured list (plus notes)

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Left-hander Danny Coulombe is rejoining the Orioles’ bullpen tonight.

Coulombe was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after one appearance with Triple-A Norfolk on his rehab assignment. Left-hander Nick Vespi was optioned for the fourth time this season.

Left biceps tendinitis forced Coulombe on the IL after he posted a 2.77 ERA and 1.103 WHIP in 47 games. He’s struck out 48 batters and surrendered only three home runs in 39 innings.

This is the second bullpen move in two days. Mike Baumann was optioned yesterday, with Austin Voth reinstated from the 60-day IL.

The Orioles have a chance tonight to win their 25th series and beat the Blue Jays for the 10th time in 13 games.

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This, that and the other

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OAKLAND – The joke landed and also elicited a quick and serious response.

With a six-man rotation, multiple pitchers nearing a return from the injured list and others who are candidates to return from the minors, is it possible that the Orioles actually have, dare we say, too much pitching?

Manager Brandon Hyde, sitting in the dugout yesterday during his media session, smiled and fired back.

“Can never have too much pitching,” he replied.

This is true.

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Mullins on returning from IL stint and Coulombe on starting one

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SEATTLE – The Orioles got their center fielder back today. Limited to 69 games this year with two stints on the injured list, now they want to keep Cedric Mullins back on the field and in the lineup.

Mullins first went on the IL in late May with a right groin strain and returned June 24.  But on July 19 he was back on the 10-day IL with a right adductor groin strain. He played four rehab games this week for Double-A Bowie, going 3-for-20 and tonight rejoins the O’s batting fifth in center.

"We're excited to have him back," manager Brandon Hyde said. "He feels good and joined us on the trip last night. He's had a couple of stints on the IL and we are hoping to he can stay healthy for us the rest of the year. He's a big part of our club and makes a huge impact for us offensively and defensively." 

“I’m very ready,” Mullins said this afternoon in the visitor’s clubhouse. “During the rehab assignment was watching the guys do their thing out there. Just seeing a lot of guys have some fun and I’m ready to get back in it.

“Injuries are never fun to deal with, but this time around my confidence when it came to running when I started back up was a lot smoother than the first time. So I felt like in terms of the recovery, what we did this time has definitely been beneficial to keep me around.”

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Coulombe goes on injured list (plus lineups and notes - updated)

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Orioles reliever Danny Coulombe was placed on the 15-day injured list this morning with left biceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to yesterday.

Reliever Joey Krehbiel, optioned on Monday, is recalled because he’s replacing an injured player. Krehbiel has a new locker set up at Camden Yards.

Coulombe is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.103 WHIP in 47 games. He’s an important high-leverage reliever for a bullpen that’s slipped to seventh in ERA in the majors at 3.71 after allowing 10 runs the past two nights.

Coulombe, who’s averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, hasn’t allowed a run in his last five appearances. He pitched Saturday and surrendered two hits in the eighth.

Krehbiel has retired all five batters faced with the Orioles, striking out two.

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Tossing out a few Orioles surprises after 113 games

Ryan O'Hearn

The Orioles will try to get back to 28 games above .500 tonight, perhaps stretching their lead to three over the second-place Rays, who gained a little ground last night.

Trying to contend again and grab a wild card berth has been replaced by winning the division and posting the best record to seize home field advantage.

Could make a fascinating book.

An entire chapter, maybe more, could be devoted to what many of us didn’t see coming.

For instance:

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McCann on clubhouse chemistry: “We have guys who truly love each other and truly want the best for each other"

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Trade deadlines in the Orioles’ rebuild kept players on edge, wondering if they were headed out the door or which teammates and friends might beat them to it. They checked social media posts and read the transaction scrolls on television, which alerted a few, like second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who hadn’t heard from the team or an agent after arriving in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.

The teardown in 2018 wiped out the best players. Trey Mancini and Jorge López were dealt last summer with the Orioles in contention, the postseason odds much lower than in 2023.

Life on the buyer side isn’t as anxious.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias spoke last week of the balance between aggression and caution. Of the willingness to reach in the right trade, but the refusal to torch a farm system that is fueling the resurgence.

Elias didn’t dismiss the possibility of trading from the 26-man roster but wasn’t enthused about it. He doesn’t want to mess with a good thing – a group that’s responsible for the best record in the American League and wants to stay together.

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Orioles erupt early and entertain ESPN audience with 9-3 win (updated)

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Three forearm smashes and a hand slap. That’s what awaited Adam Frazier tonight after he crossed home plate in the first inning. Before he reached the top step of the dugout.

In the middle of the latest beating administered to Yankees starter Luis Severino.

The Orioles sent 11 batters to the plate, scored seven runs and turned ESPN’s first Camden Yards broadcast in five years into a challenge to avoid using every note and anecdote before the top of the second.

Frazier drove a fastball onto the flag court in right field for a three-run homer, the sixth consecutive Oriole to reach base in a 9-3 rout of the Yankees before an announced crowd of 37,429.

The three-game series drew 114,816.

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Cowser double in ninth keeps Orioles rolling in 3-2 win (updated)

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PHILADELPHIA – A line drive traveling 356 feet the other way became Jordan Westburg’s first major league home run.

He couldn’t pause to admire it, as Gunnar Henderson did yesterday with a 446-foot shot off the D-catwalk ring at Tropicana Field. Westburg raced out of the box, slowed into his home run trot and pointed his index finger toward the outfield as he approached second base.

Westburg put a sinker about three rows deep into the right field corner in the second inning. He also put the Orioles in a favorable spot, with their 31-8 record when scoring first leading the majors before tonight.

Ryan Mountcastle broke a tie with a 451-foot homer to center field in the sixth, Colton Cowser broke another in the ninth with a two-out bloop double down the left field line and a short bullpen held up at the end in a 3-2 victory before an announced sellout crowd of 44,043 at Citizens Bank Park.

There’s no slowing this team, which has won five of six games, 13 of 16 and 14 of 19. The Orioles are a season-high 24 games above .500 at 62-38, including 32-18 on the road. And they lead the idle Rays by 2 ½.

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Coulombe on Bautista: "What he’s doing is honestly historical"

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Félix Bautista sat in the visiting bullpen last night, knowing the phone wasn’t ringing for him.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde needed Bautista to close out Wednesday afternoon’s game at Camden Yards. He needed Bautista Thursday night to cover the ninth and 10th innings in a 4-3 win over the Rays that catapulted his club into sole possession of first place.

A save situation last night was going to be someone else’s responsibility.

Let the Mountain rest.

The Orioles were shut out 3-0. The entire offense went into a slumber.

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Showdown series at the Trop: Orioles-Rays four-game set starts tonight

Ryan Mountcastle

The year was 2021. Yes, it was that recently. On their way to an AL East title and a 100-62 record, the Tampa Bay Rays went 18-1 against the Orioles.

“That was rough,” Ryan Mountcastle remembered in the Baltimore clubhouse yesterday morning.

That Orioles team would finish 52-110. Tampa Bay wound up outscoring Baltimore by 79 (150-71) on the year - the second-largest run differential against a single opponent in the divisional era (since 1969), behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers’ +82 mark over the San Diego Padres in 1974.

Things are very different now.

After winning nine of 11 games while the Rays have lost 11 of 14, the teams were tied in the standings as of last night. But the Orioles have the AL East lead by percentage points at .611 (58-37) to the Rays at .606 (60-39).

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Orioles avoid sweep with 34th comeback win (updated)

Orioles avoid sweep with 34th comeback win (updated)

Dean Kremer didn’t view today’s start as some sort of revenge game. His goal was to give the Orioles a chance to win and avoid their first series sweep in 14 months. The opponent presented an opportunity to visit with friends from his former organization. Don’t read more into it.

Tyler Wells threw 40 pitches in the second inning last night and was done. Kremer threw 37 in the first and tried to rework the script.

The Orioles fell behind by two runs, answered back with four in the bottom of the first as a sudden rain shower sent fans scrambling for cover, and produced their 34th comeback win to lead the majors. But Kremer fell one out short of qualifying for the decision.

Ramón Urías doubled twice and drove in three runs and Gunnar Henderson hit his 15th home run in an 8-5 victory over the Dodgers before an announced crowd of 22,248 at Camden Yards. The bullpen covered the last 4 1/3 innings after Kremer was charged with five runs in 4 2/3.

The Rays lost in Texas and are percentage points behind the Orioles for first place as the teams begin a four-game series Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

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Coulombe on Cano: "He always had the talent"

Yennier Cano

NEW YORK - Orioles reliever Yennier Cano smiled through his entire media session Sunday after being chosen to the All-Star Game.

Sitting in front of a microphone shared with interpreter Brandon Quinones, he tried to convey what the news meant to him, how a pitcher who didn’t impress last year or break camp with the team in spring training emerged as a dominant setup man and endearing personality.

Earning an honor that he never dreamed about, let alone having it latch onto his reality. As crazy for him as it seemed to everyone else.

Cano handled a curveball question better than hitters can attack his sinker.

How did he turn into Superman?

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Heim tops Rutschman in AL catcher All-Star voting

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Perhaps it will work out anyway.

A team selects a player first in the draft, a generational talent, and makes him the key component in a rebuild. Expects him to move quickly through the farm system coming out of college. Expects him to be impactful.

To be an All-Star.

Catcher Adley Rutschman will need some help from players and the commissioner’s office after losing to the Rangers’ Jonah Heim in phase two of fan voting in the American League. The announcement came tonight on ESPN.

Rutschman is vying for a spot on the bench, with his stiffest competition likely Kansas City veteran Salvador Pérez, who finished third in phase one. Every team must be represented.

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Orioles option Vavra to make room for Coulombe

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MILWAUKEE - Left-hander Danny Coulombe is back in the Orioles bullpen tonight after his reinstatement from the bereavement list. Infielder Terrin Vavera was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk as the corresponding move.

The roster has returned to the usual alignment of 13 pitchers and 13 position players for the series opener against the Brewers.

Coulombe missed two games in San Francisco. Vavra is batting .245/.315/.245 (12-for-49) with no extra-base hits in 27 games.

The Orioles chose to hold onto Josh Lester, who collected his first major league hit and two RBIs Sunday. They selected his contract to replace Coulombe.

Lester can play the corner infield and outfield positions, offering versatility similar to Vavra's.

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Lester replaces Coulombe on Orioles' roster

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The Orioles placed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe on the bereavement list today and selected infielder Josh Lester’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk.

Reliever Dillon Tate was moved to the 60-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain to create room for Lester on the 40-man roster.

Coulombe struck out the side last night in the seventh inning to lower his ERA to 2.08.

An off-day on Monday could limit Coulombe’s absence from the Orioles to two games. They’re carrying 12 pitchers tonight and 14 position players.

Lester, signed to a minor league deal on Dec. 6, was batting .282/.339/.549 with nine doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 50 RBIs in 52 games with Norfolk. His second and last major league game was Sept. 6, 2022 with the Tigers in Anaheim.

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Sometimes the unofficial save comes before the ninth inning

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When the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday night 2-1 in a series-deciding game, righty reliever Yennier Cano was remarkable again. He got a drama-free save, getting three quick outs in the ninth on just eight pitches. He sure earned a save.

But sometimes an unofficial save can come before the ninth inning, and for me, Wednesday was one of those nights.

Lefty reliever Danny Coulombe, who had given up some runs in the Kansas City and Atlanta series, came on in the top of the eighth, just after Tampa Bay had cut a 2-0 deficit to 2-1. Coulombe got two huge, huge outs to keep the O’s ahead and set up Cano to do his thing in the ninth.

Coulombe, acquired by the club in late March from Minnesota for cash considerations, has done a real nice job this year for the Orioles. And he's doing that throwing his fastball, which averages only 91.3 mph, just 13 percent of the time.

He told me earlier this year how he is very confident in his ability to “spin” the ball, meaning that he can throw quality breaking pitches. And he sure can. Per Statcast, he uses his slider 54 percent of the time and his sweeper 17 percent. That's a very high percentage of breaking balls for Coulombe, who is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 16 games over 12 2/3 innings. He has walked three and fanned 18 with a 1.03 WHIP to go with a .208 batting average against and .575 OPS.

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Holmes on Orioles relievers: "It doesn’t surprise me, what they’re doing"

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The regression that’s so common with major league bullpens from one year to the next, deserving of an attached warning label each spring, hasn’t impacted the Orioles. Relievers in the first month are immune to it. Can’t touch them.

Being an exception really defies logic when factoring the loss of veterans Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens to injuries. Zero appearances in 2023 beyond Tate’s one inning Wednesday with High-A Aberdeen.

Givens is expected to pitch Saturday at Double-A Bowie, where Tate is set to join him. Meanwhile, the Orioles have a 2.78 bullpen ERA that ranks third in the majors. They were ninth in 2022 at 3.49.

They’ve done some shuffling, with Yennier Cano recalled April 14 and Logan Gillaspie optioned five days later, but they haven’t folded.

Cano ran his streak of retired batters to begin the season to 24 yesterday, tying the club record, in a 6-2 win over the Red Sox. He nailed Justin Turner on the elbow but hasn’t allowed a run or hit or walked a batter.

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New Oriole Danny Coulombe settles in nicely in 'pen, plus other O's notes

Danny Coulombe

The newest addition to the Orioles is continuing to make a nice first impression, even though he has pitched in four games now. Lefty Danny Coulombe, 33, has thrown 3 2/3 scoreless thus far on just one hit with no walks, four strikeouts and an .083 batting average against.

He got the first two outs of the seventh inning Sunday and then allowed a single. Logan Gillaspie then replaced him and stranded the inherited runner. Coulombe was acquired by the club very late in spring training, on March 27, from Minnesota for cash considerations.

“Everybody has been great so far, really welcoming. It’s a really young team, but really talented. Enjoying it so far,” Coulombe said recently about fitting in well so far as an Oriole.

“There is so much talent in this clubhouse and on the pitching side it’s been fun to see how these guys work. These pitchers have an idea of what they want to do. That is fun to see. It’s still early and I’m still trying to get to know people but it’s been fun so far,” he said.

Coulombe said he had some nerves going for his first outing with the his new club during the second game of the season at Boston.

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