Rodriguez provides nice distraction on farm as Orioles lose fifth in a row

Rodriguez provides nice distraction on farm as Orioles lose fifth in a row

The timing of Spenser Watkins’ start for the Orioles was bound to shift the attention away from him at various points in the night.

Grayson Rodriguez was pitching for Triple-A Norfolk in Charlotte. The internet is still a thing. You get the idea.

The No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball struck out a season-high 11 batters in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, his fastball registering at 98-99 mph per Statcast. Screens on laptops in the press box were flipped like hotcakes.

Rodriguez exited the game in the sixth after an error and walk disturbed his evening. The out came when he covered third base on a fly ball force play – you had to be there - and Mike Baumann stranded the runners.  

Watkins, meanwhile, was facing the team with the best record in baseball, and with Aaron Judge returning to its lineup. Judge had an RBI double and home run through the third, Watkins was removed after the fourth with the Orioles leading, and Judge greeted Joey Krehbiel with a game-tying 422-foot home run.

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Orioles recall Gillaspie and option Bannon (plus lineups and notes)

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The Orioles doubled down on their earlier roster move that promoted left-hander Nick Vespi to the majors.

Pitcher Logan Gillaspie was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk this afternoon to increase bullpen depth during a rough stretch of games. Infielder Rylan Bannon was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Gillaspie, added to the 40-man roster after the 2021 season, has made nine combined appearances between Double-A Bowie and Norfolk and registered a 3.14 ERA and 1.186 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. He surrendered two runs in 6 1/3 innings with the Tides.

“Another guy on our 40-man roster that we want to take a look at,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Didn’t see him much in spring training. Kind of an unusual story. Remember talking to him in camp. I just saw him for two seconds before I came in here, so haven’t had a chance to speak with him much, but he started the year in Double-A, pitched well, been doing a fairly good job in Triple-A, and we needed the innings.”

Vespi, 26, and Gillaspie, 25, are awaiting their major league debuts.

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Lefty Nick Vespi gets the big league call

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A long road finally ended for left-handed reliever Nick Vespi today. Now that he got on the road, he will try to stay on it.

But it’s a great day in the life of this eighth-year Oriole.

The Orioles selected Vespi in the 18th round of the 2015 draft and he saw all the stops on the O’s farm along the way over 149 games. Two years in short-season ball and three years at low Single-A Delmarva. Just when he was ready to make a move up, the season was cancelled in 2020. But after pitching to an ERA of 4.19 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, Vespi really elevated his game this year with an ERA of 0.00 for Norfolk over 12 games.

Now he is finally in the major leagues.

The club selected his contract today from the Tides and he will wear No. 79. In a corresponding move, lefty Logan Allen was designated for assignment.

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O's recall Gillaspie, option Bannon

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This afternoon, the Orioles made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled RHP Logan Gillaspie from Triple-A Norfolk. He will wear No. 71 and his first appearance will be his Major League debut.
  • Optioned INF Rylan Bannon to Triple-A Norfolk.
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Nick Vespi joins Orioles bullpen

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The Orioles selected the contract of left-hander Nick Vespi from Triple-A Norfolk this afternoon and designated lefty Logan Allen for assignment.

Vespi, who’s wearing No. 79, brings a 0.00 ERA to Camden Yards while waiting to make his major league debut. The 18th round draft pick in 2015 was charged with three unearned runs and six hits in 14 1/3 innings, with three walks and 21 strikeouts.

Allen was claimed off waivers from the Guardians on May 5 and made three appearances, allowing two runs and three hits with two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

Today’s moves are the latest to impact the bullpen. Paul Fry was designated for assignment on Saturday. Denyi Reyes has his contract selected on Thursday, made his major league debut with two scoreless innings in Detroit and was optioned.

Meanwhile, the Orioles resume their four-game series with the Yankees tonight. Neither team has posted its lineup.

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O's select Vespi's contract, designate Allen

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This afternoon, the Orioles made the following roster moves:

  • Selected the contract of LHP Nick Vespi from Triple-A Norfolk. He will wear No. 79 and his first appearance will be his Major League debut.
  • Designated LHP Logan Allen for assignment.

The Orioles 40-man roster currently has 40 players.

 

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This, that and the other

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The Orioles began their homestand last night without a single roster move.

Didn’t need to replace an injured player whose day-to-day status grew too long. Didn’t select the contract of baseball’s No. 1 prospect.

Austin Hays took coach’s batting practice, but only the shadow of Adley Rutschman could keep fans from seeing the importance of that update.

The Triple-A Norfolk Tides were off yesterday. Rutschman didn’t hop on a flight to Baltimore.

The Orioles never circled that date or any other on the calendar. Some media did. Some fans did. The opening game of a homestand seemed to make sense.

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O's offense still struggling and Chirinos is looking to break out

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The Orioles recently went through a six-game stretch in which they scored 33 runs. That run ended in the first game of their series at St. Louis, which they won 5-3. Since that game last Tuesday, they have scored one, three, two, zero, one and two runs. That is nine runs in six games. They are 1-5 in that stretch.

The O’s lost the opener of this week-long homestand 6-2 to the New York Yankees last night as New York took the opener in the four-game series.

While the Yankees improved to 26-9 and are 19-3 their last 22 games, the Orioles fell to 14-22 and have scored five runs during a four-game losing streak.

At 14-18, before this losing streak, the Orioles were on a 71-win pace. Now they are playing .389 ball. That's a 63-win pace.

There are still things to like about this season – the improved bullpen, Bruce Zimmermann’s start, the arrival of Kyle Bradish and the team’s winning record at home to name a few – but the last few days have produced dismal results.

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Bradish's second look at Yankees not as successful (updated)

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Kyle Bradish imagined this night for at least two months.

Probably a lot longer.

Bradish stood outside the visiting clubhouse at the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa after tossing two scoreless innings, said he had fun pitching in front of a large crowd in prime time and facing a lineup stacked with regulars, and spoke without a trace of cockiness about future rematches.

“They’re in the division,” he said, “so getting an early look at them is always nice.”

The Orioles didn’t break camp with Bradish and kept him back at extended spring training to build up innings. He wasn’t promoted until April 29, the news breaking a day earlier while the Orioles coincidentally were at Yankee Stadium.

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O's game blog: The homestand begins against the Yankees

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Following a 2-4 road trip during which they won two of three in St. Louis and were swept at Detroit, the Orioles are back at Oriole Park tonight to start a week-long homestand. They host the New York Yankees for four games and then the Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for three over the weekend.

This starts a difficult stretch of two weeks of games within the American League East, with seven this week versus the Yankees and Rays and eight next week at New York and Boston.

The Orioles have played two home AL East series and won them both, over the Yankees and Red Sox. In fact, they are the only team to take a series from New York this year. The O’s have gone 4-8 within the division – they are 4-2 at home and 0-6 on the road.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24 ERA) will make his fourth big league start tonight in the series opener. He is coming off a strong outing at St. Louis on Tuesday. He gave up four hits and two runs over seven innings, with no walks and 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and got nine swings and misses on 20 swings against his slider.

Bradish has thrown his fastball 51 percent thus far, at an average velocity of 94.7 mph, and uses his slider 31 percent, curveball 10 percent and changeup eight percent. He is getting a 43.2 groundball rate.

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Hays' early hitting and fielding drills bring him closer to return

Hays' early hitting and fielding drills bring him closer to return

Austin Hays took coach’s batting practice this afternoon and did some outfield work, including shagging fly balls, and is nearing a return to the Orioles lineup.

Hays has been missing from it since the final game in St. Louis, when reliever Génesis Cabrera stepped on his left hand on a play at first base.

“My hand’s feeling a lot better today,” Hays said while standing at his locker. “The swelling was pretty bad the last couple of days, but the stitches have settled, so now I can regain some baseball activities today.”

The Orioles were able to avoid putting Hays on the injured list. The initial fear was that he suffered a break, but he escaped “only” with lacerations.

“Originally, it was kind of unsure, but then the doctor said that I would be able to play with the stitches in, I wouldn’t have to wait for them to come out before I could resume,” he said.

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Chirinos on Bradish: "I think he has a bright future here"

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With a lineup tonight that is still without Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle and will also be without shortstop Jorge Mateo, at least at the start, the O’s could use another solid game on the mound. They will send out rookie right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24) for his fourth career start.

And he is facing the first-place New York Yankees (25-9), who have the best record in the majors and have won six of seven and 18 of their last 21 games.

This is sure a challenge for a young pitcher facing a team that is tied for the American League lead in homers and OPS and is second in runs scored. A team on a 119-win pace.

For the fourth time in four starts, Robinson Chirinos is catching the youngster. Chirinos has been impressed by Bradish's start, particularly last week in St. Louis, when he allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

I asked Chirinos what impressed him the most about Bradish in that outing.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

The Orioles have returned home after being swept in Detroit, and Robinson Chirinos is catching tonight.

No roster moves have been announced. No new lockers in the home clubhouse.

Austin Hays is attempting to hit this afternoon. The swelling is down in his left hand, but he remains out of the lineup.

Ramón Urías is batting cleanup and starting at shortstop. Rylan Bannon is playing third base in his first game at Camden Yards.

Tyler Nevin is the first baseman. Ryan McKenna is in left field.

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Orioles experience more pain beyond a series sweep

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Jorge Mateo ran full-speed into Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson yesterday on a bunt up the line, and the result was predictable. Mateo hit the ground hard and stayed down as manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel bolted from the dugout.

Mateo eventually got up and finished his at-bat, falling to one knee on a swing and striking out on the next pitch. But not until Hyde had patted him on the back and gave him a quick shoulder rub, relieved that his starting shortstop didn’t join the list of injured Orioles.

Two innings later, Chris Owings was pinch-hitting for Mateo, who left the game with rib cage soreness.

Of course he did. This team is a bundle of bad breaks.

Hyde told the media afterward that Mateo has a left shoulder and chest contusion. X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day.

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After tough weekend, O's gear up for challenging few weeks

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Captain Obvious has been busy this season, giving me a steady stream of calls and notes. The latest was to remind me that the Orioles may be an improved team but are not yet at the point they can be missing several key players and still consistently win.

The Captain is right again.

The Orioles were without Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays in Detroit and Jorge Mateo left yesterday’s game in the fourth inning. They lost 5-1 and scored just three runs over the weekend. They scored in just two of 27 innings. That will not cut it.

The offense with Hays and Mountcastle was trending up, scoring 33 runs over a six-game stretch. But they have followed that by scoring seven runs over the past five games.

The Captain said that means the offense has been inconsistent.

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O's plate just three total runs in Tigers' three-game sweep (updated)

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Offense, offense, wherefore art thou, offense? Baltimore’s bats once again faltered in Detroit, this time in a 5-1 loss to the Tigers. The Orioles scored just three runs in this three-game sweep, striking out 16 times today alone. 

On Friday, the O’s couldn’t cash in on offensive opportunities, stranding 14 runners on base. Yesterday, Baltimore hit the ball hard, but just right at defenders. Eight balls were hit over 100 mph, with four of them having an expected batting average over .500, but no runs came of it. 

Today? The Orioles didn’t fail to cash in, nor did they simply get unlucky. The lineup just didn’t hit. 

Tarik Skubal was dominant, striking out five O’s hitters the first time through the lineup. It was the third-career double-digit strikeout game for Skubal, who struck out 11 Orioles in the game, matching a career high. The lefty was able to go deep into this one, allowing just three hits and not surrendering a run over six innings of work. 

“I thought Skubal was really good,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “We had a tough time making contact against him, and give him credit, he threw a really good game.”

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Fuller, Hyde on hitting improvements this season

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In November, the Orioles hired co-hitting coaches, a pair of 31-year-olds in Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller. 

Borgschulte had spent the previous four seasons in the Twins organization, making his way to their Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul before landing in Baltimore. Fuller, on the other hand, was an internal promotion. 

Fuller joined the O’s in 2019, brought on as the hitting coach for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds. From there, he was promoted to Bowie in 2021 before earning a trip to Baltimore this year. 

Coming up through Baltimore’s farm system, Fuller understands the importance of keeping hitting philosophies consistent, no matter what level of the organization you may be at. 

Ryan McKenna, recently promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, says that its been helping his development this season. 

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O's game blog: The road trip finale in Detroit

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On Saturday afternoon, the Orioles got another quality start from a starting pitcher and they also got another scoreless outing from their bullpen. But their offense produced just four hits and was held scoreless for the second time this season in a 3-0 loss to the Tigers.

The Tigers have won the first two games of this series with the Orioles offense producing just two runs and 12 hits with a couple of solo homers in losing the first two games at Comerica Park.

The Orioles have been swept in three straight games twice this season – both on the road at American League East rivals. In the opening series, they were swept in St. Petersburg, Fla., by the Rays and outscored 15-4. In late April, they lost three in a row at Yankee Stadium by a combined 27-15 score.

When this series began, the Orioles were coming off a series win at St. Louis and had won four of five, six of eight and eight of the previous 12 games. Detroit was 9-23 and had lost three in a row and nine of its previous 10 games. But the fortunes turned for both this weekend and Detroit, which had lost 16 of 19 as play began Friday night, now looks for a third consecutive victory today.

Orioles right-hander Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75 ERA), coming off back-to-back strong outings, will try to keep that roll going today in the series finale. It’s his seventh start. For the season, he’s yielded 23 hits in 24 innings with four walks to 17 strikeouts. He has a WHIP of 1.125 with a 1.5 walk rate and 6.4 strikeout rate.

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Orioles and Tigers lineups (and notes)

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Austin Hays remains out of the Orioles lineup today as they conclude their road trip in Detroit.

Hays hasn’t played since Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera stepped on the back of his left hand in the seventh inning of Thursday’s game. He told the media this morning that he threw yesterday and is hoping to increase his baseball activity on Monday.

Ramón Urías moves up from fourth to second in the order today, and Jorge Mateo is batting fifth for the third time in his career and the first in 2022.

Tyler Nevin is the third baseman, Ryan McKenna the left fielder and Rylan Bannon the designated hitter.

Since May 3, the Orioles have two of the top four batting averages in the American League with Trey Mancini, first at .405, and Cedric Mullins, fourth at .354.

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A look at Gunnar Henderson's stellar start to the 2022 season

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Talk about achieving desired results. Let’s talk about still 20-year-old infielder Gunnar Henderson, a player that is at least three years younger than the average age in the Double-A Eastern League for the Bowie Baysox.

He told me in a preseason interview how he used foam baseballs to improve his plate discipline stats and cut down on his swings and misses. The early returns for him have been remarkable. He is striking out a lot less and walking a lot more. His OPS is well over .900.

He is looking every bit the top 100 prospect that he is.

Before the opening game this year he explained some improvements he was looking to make and how a foam baseball would help him do that.

“Some stuff I said to them (the coaches) that I wanted to work on is flattening out (my swing) just a touch to eliminate some of the miss and fouls balls in a sense that I know I should be hitting,” Henderson said then at Bowie’s Prince George’s Stadium. “One big thing for me was hitting foam balls off the machine that had good ride to them. Felt that was a really good help. It overexaggerates, but it helps. The second thing was just being a little more adjustable and not so stiff, letting my body do the work, so I kind of loosened up. Just relax everything, not trying to be a robot in a sense.

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