Holliday maintains confidence while fighting through early slump

Jackson Holliday

KANSAS CITY – Jackson Holliday stopped by his locker yesterday before the visiting clubhouse closed to the media. He isn’t hiding. He completed a fielding drill in front of the dugout and laughed with teammates at the railing. He isn’t sulking or broken.

Holliday is a 20-year-old rookie in the majors who isn’t immune to bumps and slumps. He didn’t think that he’d have one hit in his first 27 at-bats and strike out 15 times, but he’s handling it like a professional. The work comes before any worrying.

He isn’t showing any signs that the moment is too big for him and it’s ruining his confidence. Put away those concerns.

“I’m going through a little bit of some adjustments right now,” Jackson said. “Obviously, not the start I was hoping for, but the past few games I feel like there’s some good things. Like, I’ve hit the ball in the middle of the field pretty well and then a lot of off-speed pitches to the middle of the field, which I’m happy with. I had a few lineouts against Minnesota.

“Overall, the past few games I’ve had some positives. Obviously, no hits but some good at-bats, some walks, some good swings. So I’m kind of looking at it that way and building off those and looking back to what I was doing in spring training and trying to get back to a few little things.”

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Orioles rip into Ragans and withstand rally for 9-7 win (updated)

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KANSAS CITY – Corbin Burnes tried to turn away from a hard one-hopper, felt the ball slam off his right hip, scrambled to retrieve it, failed on his first attempt and threw out the runner by a hair.

This was one batter into his start.

Burnes waved off manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel as they began walking to the mound. Like he knew that he wouldn’t be the starter knocked out early.

The Orioles sent 12 batters to the plate in the second inning and scored seven runs against Royals left-hander Cole Ragans, the same pitcher who blanked them on one hit in 6 1/3 in Baltimore. The same pitcher with the 1.93 ERA.

A relaxed-turned-tense 9-7 win at Kauffman Stadium improved the Orioles to 13-7 and ran their sweepless streak in the regular season to 98 series. The offense was stagnant last night until Adley Rutschman’s grand slam in the seventh, but it took good care of Burnes.

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Orioles pregame notes on Wells' elbow injury, bench players playing, and Hyde's talk with Holliday

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KANSAS CITY – Tyler Wells sounded confident this afternoon that his stay on the injured list will be brief.

Exactly how brief is the question.

Wells remains shut down with inflammation in his right elbow. An MRI didn’t show any structural damage, which is the best news.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I take pride in three things, and that’s being a great teammate, my work ethic and being a good pitcher. Right now, I’m really working hard with the medical staff, with the strength and conditioning staff, and really just make sure my body’s in a good place, that we’re doing a lot of hard work. And after this stint, I come back better than what I was before.”

Wells said the club consulted “multiple doctors” in the organization.

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Orioles break out right-handed lineup vs. Royals

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KANSAS CITY – Jackson Holliday is on the bench tonight with the Royals starting left-hander Cole Ragans.

He isn’t the only left-handed bat removed from the lineup, but it gets most of the attention with the 1-for-27 start and 15 strikeouts from baseball's top prospect.

Cedric Mullins and Colton Cowser are replaced by Jorge Mateo and Austin Hays, respectively. Ramón Urías is playing third base, with Jordan Westburg at second.

Urías has a hit in his last five games with an at-bat, including last night, after an 0-for-14 start. He was in the lineup once since April 5 until tonight.

Mullins is batting .353 during a 10-game hitting streak.

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Another look at how Suárez came to the Orioles

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KANSAS CITY - Albert Suárez didn’t fall into the Orioles laps. They tracked him, tried to get him, stayed persistent and were rewarded. This wasn’t about luck.

Well, maybe just a little.

A leg injury put Suárez back on the market last summer. The Orioles caught a break more than a falling star. Opportunity aligned with availability.

They had taken some swings at the right-hander in the past and wouldn’t be caught looking this time.

“We pounced on him,” Mike Snyder, the Orioles’ senior director of pro scouting, said of the minor league deal agreed upon in September. “It’s always nice to get some offseason shopping done early.”

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Rutschman grand slam can't send Orioles to win in series opener (updated)

Rutschman grand slam can't send Orioles to win in series opener (updated)

KANSAS CITY – The outs were piling up for Dean Kremer tonight. So were the missed opportunities by the Orioles to give him support.

Kremer retired the first 11 Kansas City batters and only one ball left the infield before Vinnie Pasquantino pulled a splitter into the bullpen in right field. He allowed one other hit until his removal with two outs in the fifth inning, but the team that generated the most runs in the American League had a cold engine.

It finally got hot in the seventh, as usual, and after Kremer was gone. The bullpen, however, wouldn’t allow for a ninth comeback win.

Adley Rutschman hit his first career grand slam after Will Smith loaded the bases with no outs, but damage the previous inning was too much to overcome in a 9-4 loss at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals scored five times in the sixth, all of them with Keegan Akin pitching, MJ Melendez hit a three-run homer off Dillon Tate in the seventh, and the Orioles fell to 12-7 despite making loud noises again in the late stages.

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Updates on Bradish, Wells and Means, plus lineups and notes

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KANSAS CITY – Kyle Bradish is moving his injury rehab assignment from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk with a start this weekend in Jacksonville.

Bradish will pitch on normal rest Sunday after tossing three scoreless innings Tuesday with Bowie.

Tyler Wells made the trip west with the big club, though he’s on the injured list with inflammation in his right elbow. The Orioles seem confident that he won’t be out for long.

“It’s kind of what we thought,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “It’s some inflammation there in the soft tissue part of the elbow. He’s on the IL, obviously, but it’s pretty much along the lines of what we thought. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon.”

John Means allowed five runs and five hits in only one-third of an inning Wednesday in his fourth start with Norfolk.

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A longer look at Orioles' bullpen usage and construction

Dillion Tate

The media tends to play its own games during its baseball coverage, and Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards provided the latest opportunity. A darn good one, too.

Money doesn’t exchange hands. It’s more about wondering, debating and disagreeing. Tossing around ideas like a backyard catch.

How many innings would Albert Suárez work in his first major league appearance in seven years and first start in eight? And, really important here, who’s the long reliever if he’s knocked out early?

The last one didn’t come into play. Suárez tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings – yeah, I wanted to see him complete the sixth – and manager Brandon Hyde didn’t have to worry about extensive coverage.

(Except from the media, of course.)

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This, that and the other

Ryan O'Hearn

Ryan O’Hearn had to think about it. Frozen for a brief moment while working through the riddle in his head.

The only at-bat this season against a left-hander?

“Did I get an at-bat against a lefty,” he asked.

We weren’t off to a promising start, but it suddenly came to him. One detail at a time until he had the full answer.

“Pittsburgh, sinker guy, in extra innings,” he said, reciting details as if playing Clue and choosing Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.

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Suárez makes impressive debut, Mullins hits walk-off home run in 4-2 win (updated)

Suárez makes impressive debut, Mullins hits walk-off home run in 4-2 win (updated)

Albert Suárez walked into a mostly empty Orioles clubhouse this morning with a smile on his face and a determination to work the room.

Suárez approached Dean Kremer, who stood up and hugged him. Yennier Cano and Ryan O’Hearn came over to embrace him. He moved on to Grayson Rodriguez and Craig Kimbrel, cut across to the other side and made a direct path toward Colton Cowser, who paused his conversation with a broadcaster.

That was everyone. Nothing left to do except go back to his own locker and prep for his first major league game in seven years.

These guys knew him from spring training but were unsure after he was reassigned in late March if they’d interact again except maybe a rehab assignment. They’d be coming to him. That was the likeliest scenario on April 17.

The Orioles selected Suárez’s contract, putting him on the 40-man roster, and watched him earn the right to stick around. He unpacked his bags and locked up the Twins, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings and celebrating Cedric Mullins' first career walk-off home run in a 4-2 victory before an announced crowd of 15,860 at Camden Yards.

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Hyde explains decision to start Suárez

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The season is 18 games old and Albert Suárez has already made it back to the majors.

A fast promotion after an absence dating back to 2017.

The Orioles chose Suárez over left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, selecting his contract this morning from Triple-A Norfolk. He’s starting against the Twins, with the Orioles trying for the sweep.

“We needed a starter today and he is in line and we feel like this gives us our best chance to win against pretty much a right-handed club with some lefties sprinkled in there,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“Loved the way Albert threw the ball in spring training for us. Pitched all the way right 'til the end until we set the roster. He had an outstanding camp. Strike-throwing ability, sits in the mid-90s, showed really good secondary stuff pitching against a lot of A lineups in spring training.”

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Suárez selected for today's start

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The Orioles selected the contract of right-hander Albert Suárez this afternoon and he’s starting the series finale against the Twins at Camden Yards. He’s working on normal rest after making Friday’s start with Triple-A Norfolk.

Catcher David Bañuelos was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Bañuelos flied out last night as a pinch-hitter in his major league debut.

Suárez, who’s wearing No. 49, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Giants. His last start was Sept. 23, 2016 in San Diego.

The Orioles reassigned Suárez on March 22, the same day that they also cut Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby. He’s made three appearances with Norfolk, including one start, and allowed 10 earned runs (11 total) and 19 hits in 15 1/3 innings. Suárez has walked one batter and struck out 17.

Suárez, 34, signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Sept. 15 after he spent the past five years pitching in Japan and Korea. He walked two batters and struck out 19 in 15 2/3 innings in spring training.

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Kimbrel keeps impressing his Orioles teammates

Craig Kimbrel

The thought struck Danny Coulombe like a screaming line drive. At least it didn’t leave any bruises.

“Man, I got to play catch with a Hall of Famer.”

That’s the impact closer Craig Kimbrel makes on his new teammates.

Coulombe and Kimbrel worked out together before Monday night’s game at Camden Yards. Tossing a baseball back and forth no longer felt routine. There was something special about it for Coulombe.

“He’s obviously a Hall of Famer,” Coulombe said yesterday, anticipating the voting that awaits Kimbrel five years after his retirement, “but he is like the most down to earth guy you’ll ever meet.”

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Rodriguez follows bad news on Wells with quality start in 11-3 win (updated)

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Kyle Bradish made his first injury rehab start this evening at Double-A Bowie and tossed three scoreless innings. John Means is scheduled to make his fourth start Wednesday with Triple-A Norfolk.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are trying to hold together a rotation that became more vulnerable tonight with Tyler Wells going on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.

Grayson Rodriguez was a soothing presence on the mound, a reminder that the club packs a powerful 1-2 punch at the top with ace Corbin Burnes.

With impeccable timing, Rodriguez held the Twins to two runs over six innings in an 11-3 victory before an announced crowd of 18,108 at Camden Yards. His ERA actually rose from 2.50 to 2.63 after his third quality start.

Gunnar Henderson took over the team lead with his fifth home run, which came one pitch after James McCann’s RBI double in the second, Jordan Westburg cleared the left field wall for a two-run shot in the third, and the Orioles (11-6) claimed the series with a chance to sweep Wednesday.

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Orioles place Wells on injured list, activate Bañuelos from taxi squad

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The Orioles have placed Tyler Wells on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation and selected the contract of catcher David Bañuelos from Triple-A Norfolk.

Bañuelos was on the taxi squad and a convenient move for the Orioles, who must find a starter for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Twins at Camden Yards.

Infielder Liván Soto was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. He homered earlier today in Jacksonville.

Wells has made three starts and allowed 10 earned runs (11 total) and 18 hits in 15 1/3 innings. He’s walked three batters and struck out 13.

Wells faced the Brewers on Friday and surrendered four runs and six hits in four innings. He was in the clubhouse this afternoon during media availability.

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Hays on slump: “The world is not falling, you know?"

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One night after starting in left field against a Twins right-hander, Austin Hays returns to the bench while the Orioles try to claim another series.

Colton Cowser moves from right to left and Hays takes a seat on the bench while stuck on three hits in 39 at-bats.

“It’s baseball,” Hays said this afternoon. “Baseball’s tough, it can be really hard at times. You’ve got to stay focused on the right things, stay positive every day, continue to get lost in the work, make sure you’re doing the right things, you’re focusing on the right things.

“Right now, I feel good at the plate. I’m hitting the ball hard. I made some adjustments around that Boston series. I was able to drive the ball in the right-center field gap there. I’ve been hitting the ball hard since that series. You’ve just got to wait for them to find the hole. You’ve got to stay patient and stay focused and stay positive. It’s a long game, it’s a long season. We’re still in the first month. Just stay positive and get through it.”

Hays was reminded again about the odd nature of the sport - and it can feel cruel - that he gets a bloop single to snap an 0-for-26 streak but lined out last night at 104.8 mph off the bat. He barrels a ball and it’s aimed at the third baseman.

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Orioles and Twins lineups for second game of series

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Ryan Mountcastle gets his turn to rest tonight, as the Orioles continue their series against the Twins.

Ryan O’Hearn is playing first base. Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter.

James McCann gets another start behind the plate, but this time against a right-hander, Chris Paddack.

Colton Cowser is in left field.

Grayson Rodriguez makes his fourth start. He’s 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.167 WHIP in 18 innings and has struck out 21.

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Three more Orioles observations and surprises early in the season

Colton Cowser

The Orioles are 16 games into the 2024 season, settling into second place and confident that their best baseball is ahead of them. The division battles are slow building, with the competition so far limited to the three-game sweep in Boston. They must wait until April 29 to begin a four-game set against the Yankees before traveling to Cincinnati and D.C., and hosting the Diamondbacks.

No one should wait for more observations and surprises, the stuff that might not have been safe bets during the winter or the early days in camp. The stuff that's getting noticed.

Colton Cowser is tied for the Orioles’ home run lead.

He had sole possession until Gunnar Henderson and Cedric Mullins caught up to him last night.

Cowser needed 37 games to hit his first major league home run. He belted two that night in Boston and four over four games, including Sunday’s 422-foot blast to right-center field in the eighth inning.

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Mullins contributes at the plate and in the field in Orioles' 7-4 win over Twins (updated)

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Cole Irvin had his back to home plate and a huge smile on his face. Both arms raised. Eyes wide. A combination of pure joy and utter disbelief.

Cedric Mullins saved him from allowing a run in the top of the first inning, and did it in remarkable fashion. Now it was Irvin’s duty to show his appreciation in the proper fashion.

Accept the lead that came quickly to him and don’t lose it. Care for it until handing it over to the bullpen.

Relievers became responsible for it by the fifth, sooner than manager Brandon Hyde desired but a group effort that got the series started on a winning note. And Mullins wasn’t done contributing.

Jordan Westburg delivered a two-run double in the first inning, Ryan O’Hearn led off the third with a homer, Mullins finished with a sacrifice fly and two-run homer, and the Orioles never trailed in a 7-4 victory over the Twins before an announced crowd of 14,611 at Camden Yards.

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Bradish starting Tuesday at Bowie, Hays in lineup, Cowser named AL Player of Week, and other notes

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Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish begins his injury rehab assignment Tuesday night at Double-A Bowie. The Baysox are playing the Altoona Curve, a Pirates affiliate, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

Bradish was supposed to debut last Thursday at High-A Aberdeen, but he threw live batting practice due to the inclement weather. He had a bullpen session Saturday at Camden Yards and keeps reporting positive progress.

The Bowie start will be Bradish’s first since Game 1 of the Division Series against the Rangers. He was diagnosed in January with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and received a platelet-rich plasma injection.

The Orioles want to get multiple innings out of Bradish.

“I think we’re hoping somewhere between two and three innings, in between 40-50 pitches would be ideal,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “See how he feels after every inning, but that would be best-case scenario.”

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