Orioles select contract of Anthony Bemboom

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The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

 

  • Selected the contract of C Anthony Bemboom from Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Designated RHP Anthony Castro for assignment.
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And now an offseason that could be full of its own drama and fun

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If an offseason can be filled with intrigue and drama, this one could for the Orioles.

After an 83-win season, 31 more than the previous year, the Orioles are a winning team. Now we begin to find out how they take what they have impressively built to get to this point, to get to the next stage.

To get to where they can win 90 to 100 games, to not only contend for the playoffs, but for division championships with a team that could make a deep postseason run. And do it year after year after year. That is the long-range goal for the Orioles, and now we begin to see if they can realize it.

They have done such a great job just to get to this point.

They have a low payroll and plenty of flexibility with that moving forward. They have a top-ranked farm both to produce players to contribute to the big league club and players that could be involved in some key trades this winter.

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Orioles finish 2022 season with 5-1 loss in Game 2 (updated)

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Jorge Mateo slapped a ground ball to the right side of the infield in the ninth inning, from mitt to first base to the final out of the 2022 season.

Fans stood and cheered the Orioles after a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the doubleheader. The team came back out of the dugout with caps held high in the air. Some players waved and others returned the applause.

Manager Brandon Hyde intended to play everyone today. No one would be left on the bench on the last day, with a makeup doubleheader carrying them to their 162nd game.

A winning record was intact. Stats could be padded before players scattered for the winter. Go home, rest, and get ready to make a stronger run within the division in 2023.

But first, an emotional send-off.

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Vavra's first major league home run gives Orioles 5-4 win in Game 1 (updated)

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The Orioles and Blue Jays are taking contrasting approaches to today’s doubleheader, an understandable development considering how only one team is preparing for the wild card round that begins on Friday.

Mike Baumann started Game 1 for the Orioles and worked into the sixth inning. The Jays used five relievers within the first five innings, including closer Jordan Romano, who stranded a pair of runners in the fourth.

No one likes a doubleheader on the final day of the regular season. It’s especially distasteful for Toronto, which led until the eighth inning.

Until rookie Terrin Vavra lined a two-out fastball from Mitch White onto the flag court in right field, his first major league homer a three-run shot that gave the Orioles a 5-4 win in the opener at Camden Yards.

One team suddenly felt a lot better about the doubleheader.

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Elias: "I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East"

Elias: "I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East"

The Orioles were saddled with two games on the final day of the 2022 season, an inconvenient doubleheader born from the club’s fifth rainout. A final jab from the baseball gods.

Nothing really hurt the Orioles this summer beyond their official elimination from the wild card chase. Being in it after national projections of 100-plus losses felt like a huge win.

Many more are expected in the coming years.

“Looking at the entire organization, I think we’re very pleased with everything that happened up and down the organization this year,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said this morning. “First and foremost, the way that this team played and competed at the major league level is something that I think rightfully our players and coaches deserve a lot of credit for. We’re not where we want to be or need to be in the division. It’s very daunting looking at these other four, not only teams but organizations in our division, picturing having to beat them to make it to the playoffs next year, but that’s our goal and we feel that the organization is in a position now to realistically pursue that goal for next year. So that’s going to be my focus this offseason, and I think the focus of our squad when we meet in Sarasota next year.

“It’s not going to be easy, given who we have to compete against and who we have to play against, but as I said in the summer, I feel like this team is officially in the fight in the American League East, and that’s a big achievement. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be complacent about it. We know that we had some relatively good health this season. We had some guys have good seasons. It’s tough to repeat in this league. Players make adjustments against you, we’ve got a lot of young guys. We may have some individual steps back, but we plan to hopefully reinforce this group, keep helping the players improve, and hope that we can take another step forward next season and get into the playoffs that we narrowly missed out on this year.”

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O's game blog: A doubleheader to wrap up the 2022 season

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The Orioles battled the weather and the Blue Jays in Game 1 of this series on Monday night. Toronto won the game, which was called in the eighth, by a 5-1 score to take the series opener. The scheduled second game of this series was rained out yesterday.

So the clubs will complete the 2022 regular season today with a straight doubleheader at Oriole Park. The Birds head into the offseason after the games while the Jays begin play in the American League playoffs at home Friday in the best-of-three Wild Card Series.

The Orioles (82-78) have clinched a winning season and could finish with 84 victories with two more wins. But Monday’s loss was their fifth in the last seven games and they have lost seven of 10, 11 of 18 and 17 of the last 28 games. They are 14-17 since Sept. 1.

The Baltimore offense has scored three runs or less for six consecutive games since they scored 14 runs followed by nine runs in the first two games of their recent series in Boston. In those six games, they have scored just 10 total runs on 34 hits, going 2-for-37 with runners in scoring position. The Orioles have not homered in the last four games and have hit just two in the past six games.

Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo stole his 35th base of the season Monday night. He became the sixth Orioles player (eighth occurrence) since 2000 to record 35 steals in a single season and first since Jonathan Villar swiped 40 in 2019. Mateo leads the AL in steals by one over teammate Cedric Mullins, by three over Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and by five over Bobby Witt Jr. of Kansas City.

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On final day, Mateo and Mullins contending for AL stolen base title

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The season is down to one final day, and for the Orioles, two final games in today’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays. When Game No. 162 is over, an Oriole is likely to be leading the American League in stolen bases and that has been a rarity in team history.

But who will win the title with two contenders going? O’s shortstop Jorge Mateo is the current AL leader with 35 and his teammate center fielder Cedric Mullins is next at 34.

“It’s been fun. Just going back and forth,” Mullins said about competing with a teammate for the league steals lead. “It was funny when he went back up by two or three not too long and I came back and caught back up. Just Monday for example, I knew he would be aggressive when he got on base. We’re going to bring it down to the wire and see what happens.

“I think that makes it even more interesting, having someone on the same team competing with you for the stolen base title. We’re both pulling for each other. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure.”

Just three times since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954 has an Oriole led the AL in steals. Luis Aparicio did so with 40 in 1963 and 57 in 1964. It happened just once since when Brian Roberts stole 50 bags in 2007 and was a co-leauge leader with Carl Crawford of Tampa Bay.

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Orioles and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1

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The Orioles can’t get away clean. They must play a doubleheader against the Blue Jays today before scattering for the offseason.

Mike Baumann starts Game 1 after yesterday’s rainout. So, to review:

Baumann is making his fourth start and 13th appearance. He’s completed four innings in his two starts since being plugged into the rotation on Sept. 24, throwing 58 and 74 pitches.

Baumann also started Game 1 of a Sept. 5 doubleheader against the Jays and allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings. He tossed two scoreless relief innings on Sept. 16 in Toronto.

Gunnar Henderson is playing third base and batting fifth. Terrin Vavra is the second baseman and Ryan McKenna is in left field.

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Orioles add Nick Vespi as 29th man for Wednesday's doubleheader

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The Orioles have made the following roster move:

  • Added LHP Nick Vespi from Triple-A Norfolk to serve as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader.
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After getting O's Player of Year honor, Baltimore is next stop for Westburg

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Orioles infield prospect Jordan Wesburg is looking forward to the baseball offseason. For him it will include his wedding in December and more work toward making his major league debut.

While it didn’t come this year, it figures to be a near certainty for the 2023 season. Westburg is the O’s No. 5 ranked prospect via MLBPipeline.com on the club’s top 30 list and is now No. 76 on their national top 100. He is the O’s No. 6 prospect on the Baseball America list and No. 89 on the BA top 100.

After a big year that included 47 games at Double-A Bowie and 91 at Triple-A Norfolk, Westburg was named the Orioles' Minor League Player of the Year, winning the Brooks Robinson award. He was at Camden Yards yesterday and hopes to make that ballpark home soon.

“I feel like you are one step away when you get to Triple-A," he said. "You are one injury away, one whatever away. It’s really cool to have that realization. But there are still things that I would like work on. Still things I need to accomplish. Obviously I didn’t make it up here this year. And that says that we were winning here with the big league club and I wasn’t needed, but there are things I need to address so that next year in spring training I can have a shot.

“I’d like to continue to be more consistent. Continue to polish up the hit tool. There are flashes of things clicking together and also flashes of going into slumps and a little bit up and down. So, if I can can smooth those things out, it gives me a better chance to play up here. Everything is amplified and a bit harder on the biggest stage.”

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A season jeopardized and influenced by lockout ends today for Orioles

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The 2022 season has reached its end for teams on the outside of the playoff arena. The doors will be locked after today.

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

Last call for the Orioles is a traditional doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, which is attracting rain the way a picnic lures ants. It’s an open jar of marmalade.

(We’ll … wait for it … toast the season later.)

A “traditional” doubleheader for me still conjures images of carrying a cooler of beer into Memorial Stadium. Or screwdrivers for the last Colts game before they moved to Indianapolis, which wasn’t a doubleheader but is in keeping with the theme.

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Jordan Westburg and Ryan Watson on their O's minor league awards

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Orioles infield prospect Jordan Westburg admits it was a bit surprising that he took home the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year award after his good friend and minor league teammate Gunnar Henderson was named national Player of the Year by Baseball America.

But Westburg’s season and performance this year don’t take a back seat to anyone. He batted .265/.355/.496 (144-for-544) with 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 96 runs scored, 106 RBIs, 70 walks and 12 stolen bases in 138 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He led Orioles minor leaguers in doubles, extra-base hits (69), total bases (270) and RBIs. He also finished second in the organization in hits and home runs. After being promoted to the Tides on June 6, he led the International League with 74 RBIs.

“I’m proud of the award,” Westburg said this afternoon at Camden Yards. “I put in a lot of work this offseason to, obviously, produce the way I did this year. I’m happy that I won it. But essentially, at the big league level it’s not about me, it’s about the team and winning games and winning championships. That is what it’s going to come down to, but right now it’s cool to win this award.

“When I saw the news that Gunnar won the Baseball America Player of the Year, I was happy for him and a little shocked that I won the Orioles’ award. That is a little bit bigger award. But like I said, there were a lot of guys deserving of the award and I just feel lucky to have won it.”

And beyond Henderson, several players had big years on the O's farm this year. Henderson produced the top OPS in the system at .946, with Connor Norby next at .886, then Kyle Stowers at .884, Colton Cowser .874 and Westburg at .852.

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Game with Blue Jays postponed, twinbill set for Wednesday

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Tonight’s scheduled game between the Orioles and Blue Jays has been postponed due to inclement weather. The game will be made up as part of a traditional (single-admission) doubleheader on Wednesday, October 5. The first game will begin at 12:35 p.m. ET, followed by game two approximately 30 minutes after the first game concludes. Gates will open to fans at 12:00 p.m.

Tickets for the October 5 game will be valid for both games of the doubleheader. 

Tickets for tonight’s postponed game will not be valid for the October 5 doubleheader. Fans can exchange the value of their ticket toward Wednesday’s doubleheader or for any 2023 regular season April home game, excluding the Orioles home opener, after 2023 single game tickets have become available for purchase. For more information and updates about ticket options for games impacted by weather, please visit Orioles.com/Weather

Complimentary tickets are non-exchangeable.

Fans who purchased tickets on StubHub for tonight’s game will need to contact StubHub regarding their policy for postponed events.

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A look at how Connor Norby led the O's farm in homers in '22

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He could get lost in the shuffle a bit in a large group of Orioles prospects that had big seasons at the plate this year. Gunnar Henderson was named Baseball America’s Player of the Year on the farm. Jordan Westburg was the Orioles' Player of the Year. Joey Ortiz had a big second half. Kyle Stowers got to Baltimore. Colton Cowser had a strong finish. Others made their marks.

Infielder Connor Norby is neither a top 100 prospect yet or a first-round draft pick. He doesn’t have the size of so-called traditional sluggers. But no one on the O’s farm hit more than his 29 homers this year. He ended the season hitting one more on the final day to win the O’s farm homer title by two over Westburg.

“I feel like I’ve always had sneaky pop in a sense. I don’t try to hit home runs. Every time I’ve tried to hit a home run, I never do. But I think my home runs came from putting good swings on a pitch,” Norby said in a recent phone interview.

Norby is ranked as the Orioles No. 12 prospect by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com. And both outlets grade his hit tool over his power tool, which gets a just below average 45 grade.

But his power this year looked like more than 45. 

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Leftovers for breakfast

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Omar’s whistle has been silenced at Camden Yards.

The hype video goes into storage, along with the 100 mph fastball and filthy splitter.

Félix Bautista packed away his jerseys and other items yesterday for shipment home. The big boxes in front of lockers are a sure sign of fall, and the end of a baseball season.

Unfortunately, Bautista’s season reached its conclusion yesterday with three home games remaining on the schedule. The Orioles didn’t want him trying to pitch with some lingering discomfort in his left knee. His work here is done.

Bautista told me yesterday that he felt much better and was available, if the Orioles kept him on the active roster. That’s the competitor in him.

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O's game blog: The final series begins

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The Orioles have just three games and one series remaining in the 2022 season. Tonight at cloudy and chilly Camden Yards, they host Toronto to start a season-ending three-game series.

The Orioles (82-77) bring a bit of momentum home with them after taking two of three at Yankee Stadium over the weekend. They won 3-1 Sunday, and win No. 82 clinched their first winning record since 2016.

The O's went 3-4 on the final road trip to Boston and New York and ended the year going 38-43 (.469) in road games. That is their best road record since going 39-42 (.481) in 2016.

The Orioles are 44-34 (.564) at home, tied for the sixth-best home winning percentage in the American League and 11th-best in the majors. This marks their most wins and best winning percentage at home since they went 46-35 (.568) in 2017.

The Orioles scored just five runs in the series at New York, and were shut out on Saturday. They have scored just nine runs their last five games, going 2-for-36 with runners in scoring position in that span. They have scored three or fewer in 16 of the last 27 games, going 4-12 in those contests.

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After early struggles, Adley Rutschman emerged as 2022 MVO

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As O’s rookie catcher Adley Rutschman was named the Most Valuable Oriole today – just the third rookie to take the MVO award since 1954 – it can be easy to forget he wasn’t always producing an .800 or better OPS.

Rutschman played his first game this year for the Orioles on May 21, and after 15 games he was batting .143 with a .422 OPS. After his first 20 games he had no homers or RBIs before breaking through June 15 at Toronto when he hit a two-run homer in the fourth off José Berríos, the same pitcher he will face tonight.

After saying how honored he was today to win the MVO, which is voted on by local media, he recalled the early struggles at the big league level.

“It’s just, we talk about the process a lot, and when you are struggling it’s definitely tough to stay in that mindset,” he said. “But just was trying to do the best that I could to stay positive, stay in the clubhouse around the guys and not let it dictate my attitude or anything else. Kind of control-the-controllables-type thing. Just try to continue to learn and show up to the field with energy.”

And he was getting plenty of support and encouragement at that time.

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Orioles recall Cano, place Bautista on IL

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The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled RHP Yennier Cano from Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Placed RHP Félix Bautista on the 15-day Injured List with left knee discomfort, retroactive to October 1.
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Catcher Adley Rutschman named 2022 Most Valuable Oriole

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The Orioles today announced that catcher ADLEY RUTSCHMAN has been voted the winner of the 2022 Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award by members of the local media who cover the team on a regular basis. He will be recognized for his accomplishments in an on-field ceremony prior to tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rutschman becomes the third rookie to be named the winner of the award since its inception in 1954, joining right-handed pitchers GREGG OLSON in 1989 and RODRIGO LÓPEZ in 2002. He is just the third catcher to be named Most Valuable Oriole, along with GUS TRIANDOS in 1958 and CHRIS HOILES in 1993.

Rutschman enters play today slashing .254/.361/.448 (100-for-393) with 35 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 70 runs scored, 42 RBI, 63 walks, 176 total bases, and an .809 OPS in 111 games. His 35 doubles are the most by an Orioles rookie in a single season in franchise history (since 1954), surpassing the mark of 32 set by Orioles Legend and Hall of Famer CAL RIPKEN, JR. in 1982. Rutschman's 35 doubles are also the most in a single season by a primary O’s catcher, ahead of JAVY LÓPEZ with 33 in 2004. He is the second O's rookie with at least 10 home runs and 30 doubles in a season, along with Ripken. His 63 walks are currently the fourth-most by an Orioles rookie, trailing CURT BLEFARY (88, 1965), RON HANSEN (69, 1960), and JIM GENTILE (68, 1960); Blefary, Hansen, and Gentile each appeared in at least 138 games.

He leads the Orioles and Major League Baseball (MLB) rookies in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) with 5.1, which ranks ninth among all American League (AL) hitters. That is currently the third-best fWAR by a rookie catcher in MLB history, trailing only Los Angeles-NL's Mike Piazza (7.4, 1993) and Boston's Carlton Fisk (6.6, 1972), and the second-best by an O's rookie in franchise history, trailing BOBBY GRICH (5.4, 1972). Rutschman also leads the Orioles in doubles and walks, ranks third in runs scored, fifth in extra-base hits (49), and sixth in total bases. Among Orioles batters with at least 400 plate appearances, he leads the team in on-base percentage and OPS and ranks second in slugging percentage.

Rutschman leads AL rookies in doubles, ranks second in walks, third in extra-base hits, fifth in runs scored, sixth in home runs, seventh in total bases, tied for seventh in hits, and eighth in RBI. Among AL rookies with at least 400 plate appearances, he ranks second in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. 

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A winning season for these Orioles makes the 2022 team special

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This has probably been true for a while now but the 2022 Orioles will be a special team in Birdland for many years to come. They may be remembered as fondly as the 1989 Why Not Orioles and the 2012 team that ended a 14-year run of losing.

With Sunday's win at New York by 3-1, the Orioles didn't just achieve a winning season. But they did so coming off their last three full seasons with a combined 333 losses. They lost 115 in 2018, 108 in 2019 and 110 in 2021.

They went from 52 wins to 82 wins.

According to many, maybe to most preseason predictions, they were supposed to lose 100 again. When they started the year going 7-14 in April, it looked like those predictions might be accurate.

They started the year 1-5 but with four losses by two runs or less against two 2021 playoff teams in Tampa Bay and Milwaukee. And they showed off some bullpen arms early on that had combinations of power and stuff. 

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