Orioles option Jackson Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk

Jackson Holliday

Jackson Holliday is headed back to the minors.

The Orioles announced today that they’ve optioned Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan McKenna.

Holliday made his highly anticipated major league debut on April 10 in Boston, but he couldn’t get onto a roll offensively. He went 2-for-34 with one RBI, two walks and 18 strikeouts in 10 games.

The hitless streak reached 13 at-bats before his single in the seventh inning on April 14 against the Brewers at Camden Yards. Holliday’s other hit came Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim with another single.

Baseball’s top prospect is getting a reset with Norfolk. The Orioles can explain later the timing of the move and potentially how long it could last.

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Orioles are back in action and giving us more to think about

Gunnar Henderson

The Orioles are refreshed after yesterday’s break, which the bullpen needed, and ready to host the Athletics for three games and dive back into division competition with four against the Yankees.

Eight of nine series will be outside the American League East before the Yankees come to town.

It could have something or nothing to do with the 16-8 record and eight wins in the last 10 games. This is a very good team, which falls way short of a hot take. Just stating the facts.

The Orioles will be in the playoffs. The only question is whether they’re still active in November. I’m not making any plans until the second week of the month.

On paper at least, they can only get better with injured pitchers returning, Jackson Holliday eventually being Jackson Holliday, other prospects ready for promotion, and one or more trades likely at the deadline.

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McKenna happy for Kjerstad and hoping to rejoin him in majors

Ryan Mckenna

The coincidence didn’t hit Ryan McKenna right away. He was in a brightly lit airport in Norfolk but also in the dark.

McKenna had no clue that Austin Hays strained a calf muscle and the Orioles needed an outfielder to replace him. He missed the news, which perhaps would have taken his mind in a direction that raised hopes for a return to the majors.

Instead, McKenna stood next to Heston Kjerstad when one of baseball’s top prospects received a phone call from Tides manager Buck Britton. Get back on a plane and head to Anaheim. The Orioles are calling you up.

“To be honest, I didn’t see the injury to Hays, so I wasn’t like fully aware of what was going on,” McKenna said this week.

“I love Heston, man. He’s such a good player. He’s going to be a good major leaguer for a long time, so I was super happy for him. He’s probably one of the guys that I’m closest to in the minor leagues. It was cool. He’s a solid player. Offensively, he outshines this league pretty dramatically.”

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Kremer, Henderson lead O's to win in road trip wrap-up game (updated)

Gunnar Henderson

ANAHEIM, Calif. – As this game got into the middle innings today, it seemed Gunnar Henderson and Dean Kremer were battling for the O's top starring roles.

Henderson kept getting hits and driving in runs off lefty pitchers and Kremer kept getting whiffs and putting up zeros with his four-seamer and cutter.

It all added up to an Orioles 6-5 victory as they took a 6-0 lead and then held off the Angels. The Orioles win this series and complete a 4-2 road trip. They head home 16-8 and get ready to host the Athletics on Friday night.

The Orioles are now 3-1 in rubber match games and have won six of their eight series.

After Los Angeles cut a six-run deficit to 6-4 on Zach Neto's homer of Yennier Cano in the eighth and 6-5 in the ninth, closer Craig Kimbrel got the final outs as they held on to win.

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Means' next start could be with Orioles, plus other pregame notes

means returns v STL

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Lefty John Means made a fifth rehab appearance on the farm last night, pitching for Triple-A Norfolk. His next turn is likely to come Sunday and it’s possible that could be in Baltimore versus the Athletics.

While Corbin Burnes, Cole Irvin and Albert Suárez have been listed to go Friday through Sunday in that series, that is subject to change pending Means’ status.

“We’re talking about that right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon. “He feels really good after that start. He gave up seven singles, they were not very well hit, the stuff is much improved. He’s really encouraged about how he felt during the outing and today.”

Means’ results have not been great in those five games with an ERA of 13.85 in 11 2/3 innings. But it's more about how he is feeling and his pitch quality and pitch count, which reached 79 last night. He could make another rehab start if the Orioles decide he needs that, or they could call him to Baltimore for the next one.

“It’s possibly Sunday, one more with Norfolk or with us. We’re discussing that now,” Hyde said.

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Mountcastle returns to Orioles lineup, plus notes (updated)

mountcastle homers in texas

With the Angels starting left-hander Tyler Anderson in today’s rubber match in Anaheim, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde posted a lineup that doesn’t included Heston Kjerstad or Jackson Holliday.

Kjerstad went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in last night’s 7-4 loss. Holliday was 1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts.

Jorge Mateo is playing second base. Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter with James McCann behind the plate.

Rutschman was 3-for-5 last night and raised his average to .323 with a .785 OPS.

Ryan Mountcastle is starting at first base after delivering a pinch-hit single last night. He replaced Ryan O’Hearn, who had a two-run double and walked twice.

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Because You Asked - Staying Alive

Jordan Westburg

My mailbag didn’t make it to Anaheim. No direct flights. Refused to fly into LAX.

What am I supposed to do?

I emptied it at home. Let’s get to it, the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original.

Same rules apply, which is very few. Closer to none. I like editing questions about as much as I like the middle seat on a Southwest flight. Your questions are crystal clear. I don’t need to enhance the clarity. Your style is fine, except for those skinny slacks that don’t go past the top of your ankles.

Also, my mailbag sticks your mailbag with the bar tab, and yours only had water.

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Rodriguez allows seven runs as Angels even series (updated)

Grayson Rodriguez

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Maybe this was a reverse-lock game. A night after the Orioles moved into first place, they put their 15-7 record and three-game win streak on the line with right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and his 2.63 ERA on the mound. He had not allowed more than two runs in any start this year.

The Angels had scored just nine runs during a five-game losing streak, were 2-5 at home and their pitcher, right-hander Griffin Canning, began his night with an ERA of 8.05.

What could go wrong? O's would have this one, right?

Well, the Angels got a Mike Trout leadoff homer and kept swinging it with loud contact in the early innings off Rodriguez as they beat the Orioles 7-4 at Angel Stadium.

Down 7-0 in the fifth, the O’s pulled within three runs but took the loss. They are now 15-8 for the year and 7-4 on the road, and return Wednesday to the ballpark looking for a series win in the rubber match game.

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Hyde pregame on Kjerstad, Mountcastle, Bradish and more (plus Kjerstad quotes)

Heston-Kjerstad-spring-training-batting-2

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Outfielder Heston Kjerstad, officially activated earlier today, is in tonight’s starting lineup for the Orioles batting eighth in right field. 

Ryan Mountcastle, who missed last night’s game with a sore left knee, could be back in that lineup very soon.

“Ryan is way better today,” manager Brandon Hyde said this afternoon in the visiting dugout. “He will definitely be available if we need him.”

As for Kjerstad, who is ranked as the No. 29 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 42 via Baseball America, he was tearing it up in 21 games with Triple-A Norfolk. He was batting .349/.431/.744/1.175 with four doubles, 10 homers and 30 RBIs. He went 8-for-16 his last four Tides games with three homers.

“Off to an unbelievable start in Triple-A. Huge power numbers,” said Hyde. “Hitting the ball hard to all fields. Just want him to come up here and try and contribute. We have a good lineup, but Heston has big-time power, so hopefully he can impact us offensively."

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Kjerstad in right field tonight in Orioles' homegrown-heavy lineup

Kjerstad running gray

Heston Kjerstad will play his first major league game tonight since Oct. 1, starting in right field as the Orioles attempt to claim another series.

Kjerstad is batting eighth, nestled between third baseman Jordan Westburg and second baseman Jackson Holliday in a lineup featuring seven players that the Orioles drafted. An eighth, Grayson Rodriguez, is on the mound against the Angels.

A ninth, cleanup hitter Anthony Santander, was selected in the 2016 Rule 5 draft. Santander is the designated hitter tonight.

Ryan O’Hearn is playing first base with Ryan Mountcastle on the bench. Mountcastle didn’t play last night due to a sore left knee.

Colton Cowser remains in left field and has homered in back-to-back games.

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Orioles recall Kjerstad, notes on tonight's game

Heston-Kjerstad-spring-training-dugout

The Orioles won again last night and are in first place in the American League East with a 15-7 record. Their 126 runs scored and .780 OPS lead the American League. Their 35 homers lead the majors.

And now, the mid-market rich get richer.

Outfielder Heston Kjerstad was recalled today from Triple-A Norfolk, bringing him back to the majors for the first time since the Division Series. Catcher David Bañuelos, activated yesterday from the taxi squad, was optioned to the Tides.

Kjerstad is the actual replacement for outfielder Austin Hays, who went on the 10-day injured list yesterday with a left calf strain retroactive to Sunday. He’s battering Triple-A pitching, hitting .349/.431/.744 with four doubles, 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 21 games. He’s also drawn 12 walks.

The first promotion came on Sept. 14, with the Orioles selecting Kjerstad’s contract. He went 7-for-30 with a double and two home runs.

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A little more on Hays' injury

Austin Hays

Austin Hays avoided the injured list for the past two seasons, a huge turn in his career after the litany of setbacks dating back to the minors. Much of it bad luck, like the sprained thumb in 2019 on a stolen base attempt after the Orioles optioned him from camp. A head-first slide that he’s done countless times, except he hit the bag wrong.

Hays had slashed .351/.385/.892 in 12 exhibition games, with three doubles, a triple, five home runs and 13 RBIs. But the Orioles wanted to continue his development in Triple-A following his ankle surgery the previous year and the sore shoulder that had interrupted his spring training.  

The toughness was never questioned. Hays played through a lot of pain. And he reached 500 career games while the Orioles were in Pittsburgh.

“He’s tried to be healthy all throughout the year,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s done that the last couple of years as best as he possibly could.”

That’s why yesterday’s news seemed so cruel.

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Suárez rolls again as O's win series opener (Kjerstad to be recalled)

GettyImages-2148021350

ANAHEIM, Calif. – After going 2,395 days between major league outings coming into this season, this time right-hander Albert Suárez had only a four-day wait.

He held Minnesota scoreless over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday in Baltimore – his first game in the majors since Sept. 26, 2017 – and was back out tonight for the O’s in their series opener in Los Angeles.

And he had another outstanding outing.

He also had another scoreless outing, again over 5 2/3 innings, as the Orioles beat the Angels 4-2 in front of 26,081 to start a three-game series.

The Orioles, who moved into first place in the American League East by a half-game over the Yankees, improved to 15-7 and to 6-2 in series-opening games. They are 7-1 their past eight games and 10-3 the last 13. 

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Hyde updates Mountcastle and Hays before Angels series opener

austin hays swinging bat black

ANAHEIM, Calif. – As the Orioles face lefty Reid Detmers (3-0, 1.19 ERA) in tonight’s series opener with the Angels, they will be a missing a couple of key right-handed bats.

At least to start the game.

First baseman Ryan Mountcastle is dealing with knee soreness and outfielder Austin Hays went on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain this afternoon.

The Orioles were seeing some positive signs with Hays’ bat. He is just 5-for-45 for the year, but had some loud outs recently and produced two hits his last four at-bats.

But any further progress will have to wait.

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Hays placed on IL with calf strain (updated)

Austin Hays running gray

The calf soreness that removed Austin Hays from Saturday night’s game in Kansas City has landed him on the 10-day injured list.

Hays was diagnosed with a left calf strain, with the IL move retroactive to yesterday. He’s 5-for-45 with two RBIs.

The at-bats have improved of late, with a hit in each of his last two games and some loud outs.

Manager Brandon Hyde kept Hays out of yesterday's lineup. Asked later about Hays' status, Hyde said, "We're going to kind of see how he is tomorrow."

Hays hasn't caught a break since reporting to camp. He had a stomach virus in spring training and was under the weather in Pittsburgh.

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Westburg honored, Hays stays out of lineup and other notes

Westburg in the cage

Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg was named the American League’s Player of the Week after batting .478 (11-for-23) with a .913 slugging percentage, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBIs, a walk, five runs scored and a stolen base in six games.

Westburg led the majors in batting average and OPS (1.413), tied for the lead in total bases (21) and ranked second in slugging. He tied for the AL lead in RBIs and tied for third in on-base percentage (.500) and hits (11).

The Orioles are on an award roll with Colton Cowser winning it last week.

This is only the third time that the team’s had back-to-back recipients. Eddie Murray won it on Sept. 13-20, 1981. Don Baylor was honored on Aug. 10, 1975, followed by co-winners Jim Palmer and Ken Singleton on the 17th.

Westburg is batting .457 (16-for-35) during a nine-game hitting streak. He’s batting third tonight in Anaheim, where the Orioles begin a three-game series.

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Anthony Sanders on Orioles outfielders: "A real talented group that makes my job a little bit easier"

Anthony Santander

KANSAS CITY – The late innings of Saturday night’s game backed the opinions of Orioles first base coach Anthony Sanders.

Working with the outfielders as the team’s instructor brings a broader appreciation of the group’s abilities.

A once-comfortable lead was slipping away when Colton Cowser, a late replacement in left field with Austin Hays experiencing some cramping in his calf muscle that could put him on the injured list today, threw out Kyle Isbel trying to advance to third base in the seventh inning on Maikel Garcia’s run-scoring single.

The Orioles led 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth and closer Craig Kimbrel retired the Royals in order, but after right fielder Anthony Santander charged Bobby Witt Jr.’s shallow fly ball and made a sensational diving catch.

Preventing the leadoff hitter from reaching was one of the biggest moments in the game.

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Irvin and bullpen combine on shutout, Cowser has more fountain fun (updated)

Colton Cowser home run trot

KANSAS CITY – Colton Cowser might chug a fountain drink later today with his postgame meal. Maybe crank up an old Fountains of Wayne tune. He’s got a theme going and should play it out before the team arrives in Anaheim later tonight.

Less than 16 hours after tossing a baseball over his head and into the fountain in left field, forgetting that closer Craig Kimbrel would want to keep it, Cowser launched a four-seamer from Royals starter Seth Lugo into the waterfall in right-center.

A stadium worker retrieved that one, as well, though it didn’t represent any sort of milestone. More like Cowser washing down a delicious irony.

"Did it get there?" Cowser asked. "I still feel terrible about what happened yesterday. I've apologized to Craig so much. But yeah, it's kind of funny, I guess. I don't think it's crazy funny, but put a good swing on it, so pretty proud of myself there."

Jordan Westburg followed Cowser’s third-inning blast with a home run to left that also would have splashed down if not for a fan in the top row of bleachers deflecting it with his hand. Not everyone was on board.

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Kimbrel soaking in 422nd save and drying souvenir baseball that came with it

Craig Kimbrel James McCann

KANSAS CITY – The overflow locker next to Craig Kimbrel held the usual items this morning – a suitcase, a couple of backpacks and some hoodies on hangers. Sitting on the top shelf, however, was a rarity. Maybe a first for the 15-year veteran.

A plastic container filled with uncooked rice.

This isn’t part of a special diet. The grains covered the baseball from last night’s 422nd career save that tied Kimbrel with Billy Wagner for seventh place on the all-time list.

Left fielder Colton Cowser caught a fly ball to seal a 9-7 win and chucked it over his shoulder and into the iconic fountain at Kauffman Stadium. Or, “yeeted it,” as he sheepishly told the media afterward.

Cowser figured out his mistake almost immediately and stadium workers retrieved the soaked baseball. There were two at the bottom. The fresher one was identified as belonging to Kimbrel.

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Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas City

Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas  City

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles return to their left-handed lineup this afternoon as they try to win the series against the Royals.

Cedric Mullins returns to center field, Colton Cowser to left and Jackson Holliday to second base.

Cowser is batting .400 against fastballs this season after hitting .087 in 2023.

Jordan Westburg is batting .438 (14-for-32) with eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He’s posted a .421 average over his last 10 games, compared to .194 in his first nine.

Anthony Santander was the first Orioles player last night with three doubles since Austin Hays on April 28, 2022 in the Bronx. He’s in right field again today.

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