Orioles lineup vs. Astros

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has seen his club bounce back from hard losses to keep its season moving forward. The next challenge comes this afternoon.

It won’t be easy following last night’s 11-10 loss to the Astros, who are trying to salvage a split of the four-game series.

The defeat pushed the Orioles four games behind the Mariners for the last wild card. The tie-breaker belongs to Seattle, which scored in the ninth inning last night to beat the Royals.

Eleven games remain and the Orioles still need two wins to assure a no-losing season.

The left-handed lineup turns with Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra. Adley Rutschman is catching.

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Leftovers for breakfast

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Mike Baumann was a surprise starter last night. No one expected him to be the next link in the chain.

The past three starters worked a minimum of 8 2/3 innings, with Dean Kremer tossing his first career complete-game shutout Friday night. Twenty-seven years passed since the Orioles put together a streak of that length. Forty years since they did it in four consecutive games.

Baumann was making his second career start only because Tyler Wells went on the injured list Friday with right shoulder inflammation. Otherwise, Baumann would have sat in the bullpen and waited for his 15th appearance.

The Orioles used him to start Game 1 of a Sept. 5 doubleheader because Jordan Lyles had the stomach flu. Baumann lasted a career-high five innings. He went six innings with Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 31, a mark that manager Brandon Hyde would have celebrated last night with a fresh set of relievers.

“There’s going to have to be a lot of first-pitch swinging,” he quipped.

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Orioles surrender four runs in ninth and lose 11-10 (updated)

The sight was odd but not unexpected. A reliever warming by the fourth inning. Runs on the board for the visiting team.

Mike Baumann wasn’t called upon as a starter tonight to give the Orioles the same length as his predecessors. He was subbing for injured right-hander Tyler Wells, and the Oriole needed to keep evaluating him. That’s why he was chosen.

They got four innings out of him. He left with a lead. The game was placed in the hands of a fresh bullpen. Pretty much as designed.

The rest of it imploded. No where in the plan was Félix Bautista throwing a career-high 33 pitches in 1 1/3 innings, charged with four runs and his first blown save since the Jorge López trade in a stunning 11-10 loss to the Astros before an announced crowd of 22,546 at Camden Yards.

Anthony Santander homered twice, the second a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth that gave the Orioles a 9-7 lead. But the Astros loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, a run scored on Alex Bregman’s fielder’s choice grounder, Kyle Tucker doubled to tie the game.

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Notes on finishing above .500, Baumann, Henderson, Mullins, Means, and more

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The Orioles can run their win total to 80 games tonight, leaving them two away from finishing on the right side of .500.

It hasn’t happened since 2016, three years before Brandon Hyde’s first season as manager.

“Definitely think you want to finish with a winning record,” Hyde said. “That is important. I’m hoping we don’t stop at 82. I want to win as many games as we can toward the end of the year and see where we are at the end of the year.”

Mike Baumann won’t be expected to extend the streak of starters recording at least 8 2/3 innings. He isn’t stretched out to the point where he can join Jordan Lyles, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer.

“There’s going to have to be a lot of first-pitch swinging,” Hyde said. “Let’s hope they come out aggressive and we get a lot of rollovers, popups.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Astros

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The last three Orioles’ starters have completed 8 2/3 innings or more, a first for the franchise since Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Kevin Brown on Sept. 26-29, 1995. The club has recorded three shutouts among four wins over the Astros this season.

Now it’s Mike Baumann’s turn on the mound as the replacement for injured right-hander Tyler Wells. The bar is raised high above his head.

Baumann is making his second major league start and his 15th appearance. He’s allowed 10 earned runs and 11 total this season in 21 innings.

Baumann has never faced the Astros, who are stuck on 99 wins.

Ramón Urías returns to the lineup at third base after being scratched last night with spasms between his neck and right shoulder.

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Three more reflections as Orioles play out their last 12 games

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The Orioles are down to a dozen games. Two more against the Astros at home, four in Boston, three in New York, and three against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.

Distance to the Jays might need to be reduced if they’re going to matter beyond the final record and pride.

The math says that the Orioles remain in contention for the last wild card, moving within three games of Seattle. They need two more wins to guarantee the first non-losing season since 2016.

Reflections of 2022 will come later, except for those of us who can’t wait.

I’ve already noted how Matt Harvey never had his contract selected (he’s on the Triple-A injured list now with a sore knee), Gunnar Henderson earned a promotion despite his age, Yusniel Diaz stayed only for a cup of coffee, Rougned Odor lasted into September, we never saw Robert Neustrom, and DJ Stewart didn’t make it back to the Orioles after three games to begin the season.

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Kremer maintains rotation roll with complete-game shutout (updated)

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The Orioles don’t know exactly how their rotation will set up through the last 12 games of the season. Tyler Wells left it today with a shoulder injury. Mike Baumann makes the start Saturday night. Grayson Rodriguez remains a possibility after being stretched to 83 pitches Wednesday with Triple-A Norfolk.

The uncertainty can’t interrupt the sense of calm that comes from a succession of outstanding performances.

What an interesting time of the year to get on a roll.

Jordan Lyles registered his second career complete game to close out the Tigers series. Kyle Bradish opened the Astros series with 8 2/3 scoreless innings. And Dean Kremer maintained his stride tonight while following in their footsteps.

Kremer tossed a complete-game shutout on a career-high 106 pitches and Adley Rutschman hit his 12th home run and reached base four times, enabling the Orioles to extend their winning streak to three games with a 6-0 victory over the Astros before an announced crowd of 22,833 at Camden Yards.

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Health updates on Urías and Wells

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Ramón Urías was scratched from tonight’s Orioles lineup with spasms between his neck and right shoulder. Terrin Vavra starts at second base and bats eighth, with left fielder Austin Hays moving up to seventh.

“He’s day-to-day,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

Here’s the new lineup:

Cedric Mullins CF
Adley Rutschman C
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander RF
Gunnar Henderson 3B
Jesús Aguilar DH
Austin Hays LF
Terrin Vavra 2B
Jorge Mateo SS

Tyler Wells is eligible to return from the 15-day injured list on Oct. 5, the final day of the regular season, but he’s shut down with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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Orioles lineup vs. Astros

Gunnar Henderson black

Gunnar Henderson stays at third base tonight as the Orioles try to win their third game in a row.

Manager Brandon Hyde is starting Ramón Urías at second base and using Jesús Aguilar as his designated hitter, with Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra on the bench – moves motivated by Astros right-hander José Urquidy being a reverse splits guy.

Austin Hays is in left field after entering last night’s game as a defensive replacement.

Anthony Santander is in right field and batting cleanup.

For the Orioles
Cedric Mullins CF
Adley Rutschman C
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander RF
Gunnar Henderson 3B
Jesús Aguilar DH
Ramón Urías 2B
Austin Hays LF
Jorge Mateo SS

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Watkins replaces Wells on Orioles roster

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The Orioles placed Tyler Wells on the 15-day injured list today with right shoulder inflammation and recalled pitcher Spenser Watkins from Triple-A Norfolk.

The move is retroactive to Tuesday and Wells is likely done for the 2022 season after making 23 starts.

Wells missed about six weeks with an oblique injury, returning on Sept. 7. He made three appearances and allowed eight runs in nine innings.

Overall, the former Rule 5 reliever went 7-7 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.138 WHIP. He ranks second on the team in starts and his 103 2/3 innings are fourth. Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer just passed him.

Manager Brandon Hyde said earlier this week that the club hadn’t discussed shutting down Wells, but the shoulder injury takes him out of the rotation.

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Hays proud that pain didn't lead to prolonged absences

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Austin Hays won’t remember the 2022 season from a personal standpoint as one of his healthiest as a professional. He played through the pain. In his hand, wrist and oblique. But what’s important here is that he played.

Hays appeared in his 132nd game Wednesday night, the most in his major league career. An achievement that didn’t draw much attention but meant so much to the outfielder.

Thirteen remain on the schedule. Hays can see the finish line and feel proud that he didn’t stumble again and land on the injured list.

“To get to that point with a couple weeks left in the season, that means a lot to me,” he said. “I should end the year with over 140 games, and not going on the IL, that was a huge focus for me.”

“I think proving that you’re durable is a huge thing for a player,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Knowing that a guy’s going to be available every day, that’s a lost skill, honestly. “All of our guys, really, this year have done a great job of staying in shape and staying ready.

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Bradish blanks Astros for 8 2/3 innings and Orioles win 2-0 (updated)

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Kyle Bradish must not be the sentimental type. Not on the nights that he’s pitching.

The Orioles welcomed back Trey Mancini, who returned to Baltimore for the first time since his trade, but Bradish made himself the center of attention.

He didn’t allow an Astros batter to reach base until Mauricio Dubón lined a first-pitch slider into left field with two outs in the sixth inning. He didn’t have any intention of letting in a run.

Friendships are cherished, but so are shutouts. Bradish came within an out of getting it by himself.

Bradish retired 26 of 28 batters, Rougned Odor celebrated his return to the lineup with a two-run single off Justin Verlander in the second inning, and the Orioles beat the team with the best record in the American League, 2-0, before an announced crowd of 16,417 at chilly Camden Yards.

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Mancini returns to Camden Yards as a visiting player

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The newness struck Trey Mancini before he stepped inside Camden Yards. The bus ride to the ballpark. A different mode of transportation and route. And, of course, the walk to the visiting clubhouse with his Houston Astros teammates.

Mancini described it as “wild,” and that was in a calm moment.

“I didn’t really know where anything was in the locker room, where the kitchen was, anything like that. So, it was a little strange being in such a familiar place but being so unfamiliar with part of it,” he said, as media crowded him.

“It’s pretty crazy coming back. I spent a lot of time here and obviously love my time here. I stopped in on my way in, saw some of the trainers, and a couple guys were in there. It’s always good to see old friends and co-workers and everything.”

This isn’t the usual return of a former player, however. Mancini meant way too much to the team, the city and its fans. The survivor of Stage 3 colon cancer, recipient of three Comeback Player of the Year awards in 2021, the fighter who inspired and taught.

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Orioles lineup vs. Astros

Orioles lineup vs. Astros

The Orioles stay outside of their division tonight as a new opponent arrives in Baltimore, but the Astros are sitting on 99 wins while owning the best record in the American League.

The teams will play four games. Houston has won four in a row, 10 of 11 and 12 of 14.

Manager Brandon Hyde hit big with last night’s lineup, and he’s keeping Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra in it tonight.

In this arrangement, outfielder Austin Hays and infielder Ramón Urías join the other reserves.

Henderson is playing third base and Rougned Odor has resurfaced at second. Vavra is in left field and Stowers is in right, with Anthony Santander serving as the designated hitter. He’s also the cleanup hitter.

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Because You Asked - Welcome to the Jungle

lyles doused

The Orioles’ 2022 schedule is much lighter with only 14 games remaining. My mailbag, however, is gaining weight.

Can’t keep blaming the pandemic. Mix in a salad.

I could set up a buffet with all the questions sent to me. Maybe I should rename it “Around the Horn & Horn”.

I’ll table that idea for now.

Here’s the latest sequel to the original mailbag that launched during the Eisenhower administration. Or in 2008 after I joined MASN. The years run together.

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Lyles tosses first complete game in 10 years and Orioles avoid sweep (updated)

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Akil Baddoo raced back to the left field wall tonight, jumped and brought down Ryan Mountcastle’s fly ball to end the first inning. Mountcastle rounded the bag and stared at Badoo in disbelief. Denied a home run on a 393-foot drive with a man on base, a souvenir in any other ballpark.

Mountcastle shook his head and tossed his batting helmet to first base coach Anthony Sanders. This couldn’t be happening again.

The next fly ball from Mountcastle in the third inning produced a sacrifice fly and expanded the lead to three runs, more than enough for Jordan Lyles. Finally, the Orioles felt in control. They wouldn’t get handled again by the Tigers.

Lyles tossed his second career complete game, Kyle Stowers hit his second major league home run and had three RBIs, Gunnar Henderson singled twice, and the Orioles avoided the sweep with an 8-1 victory at Camden Yards.

The Tigers had won nine games in a row against the Orioles dating back to August 2021, tying the longest streak since 1954.

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Odor's playing time scaled back down the stretch

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde isn’t sitting on the same lineup while the offensive production keeps slipping and the organization is curious about some of the younger players who graduated this year from Triple-A.

Veteran Rougned Odor is on the bench for the fourth consecutive game. The Tigers started left-handers the past two nights, but right-hander Matt Manning is closing out the series.

Odor is 13-for-78 since going 4-for-5 on Aug. 12. He’s hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is 4-for-29 with a double, home run and 10 strikeouts this month.

“Roogie’s been an ultimate team guy and so great in so many ways for us this year,” Hyde said. “We’re giving some other guys some opportunities right now. You’re going to see (Terrin) Vavra play a little bit more, and I’ll still find spots for Roogie. But we’re just looking at some other players, too.”

Vavra is starting at second base tonight. The lineup also has Gunnar Henderson at shortstop and Kyle Stowers in right field, with Anthony Santander on the bench.

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Orioles lineup vs. Tigers

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The Orioles have scored five runs in five games against the Tigers this season, all losses, and are 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position.

To avoid another sweep tonight, they’ll count heavily on their youth and the handful of prospects who made it to the majors.

Gunnar Henderson is batting third tonight for the first time after making his debut last night as the leadoff hitter. He was the cleanup hitter on Sunday.

The hot hand is touching the higher spots in the order.

Henderson has moved to shortstop, with Jorge Mateo going to the bench.

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Playoff notes and quotes ahead of tonight's SAL championship game in Aberdeen

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ABERDEEN, Md. – In the minor leagues it’s like the equivalent of playing a Game 7 of the World Series. For the O’s high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds affiliate tonight, it’s the final game of a series and the season.

Aberdeen hosts Bowling Green, a Tampa Bay Rays farm club, in Game 3 of the best-of-three South Atlantic League championship series at 7:05 p.m. Bowling Green won 5-3 Sunday and Aberdeen won at Ripken Stadium 13-6 last night. Tonight’s winner will be the 2022 SAL champions.

The last two O’s farm teams to win championships were the Single-A Frederick Keys in 2011 with Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop in the Carolina League and the Double-A Bowie Baysox in 2015. With a team that included Trey Mancini and Mike Yastrzemski, the Baysox won the Eastern League title.

Aberdeen, an O’s affiliate since 2002, had never even won a single playoff series until this year.

Ahead of tonight’s winner-take-all game, some notes and quotes from Aberdeen.

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McKenna accepts role as emergency relief pitcher

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Adley Rutschman didn’t put down any fingers for Ryan McKenna in the ninth inning of Monday night’s game against the Tigers. The rookie was catching an outfielder with their team behind by nine runs. The usual routine already had been dismantled.

Just try to get the ball over the plate and get off the field. Don’t increase the embarrassment of a lopsided loss to a last-place club that dragged an anemic offense into Camden Yards.

McKenna didn’t think to jokingly shake off Rutschman and get inside the hitters’ heads a little bit. A funny idea that he hopes won’t present itself again this season.

Two trips to the mound are too many for a position player.

McKenna hadn’t pitched since his high school days at St. Thomas Aquinas in New Hampshire, describing his usage has “very minimal,” but bench coach Fredi González approached him in the dugout during a Sept. 10 game against the Red Sox at Camden Yards and asked whether he’d be willing to do it with the Orioles running out of pitching.

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