Orioles assured of winning record after 3-1 victory over Yankees (updated)

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NEW YORK – The rain, wind and cold didn’t matter. Aaron Judge’s pursuit of a home run record and the hostile reaction from fans denied it also didn’t matter.

The Orioles didn’t bus into the Bronx for three days to stake out their place in history. They wanted to win the series. They wanted an 82nd victory and assurances that they’d finish on the right side of .500.

Gunnar Henderson drew a bases-loaded walk off Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning to break a tie, Bryan Baker registered his 10th scoreless appearance in a row by retiring all six batters faced and the Orioles defeated the Yankees 3-1 before an announced crowd of 45,332 to guarantee their first winning record since 2016 with three games to play at home.

"I think it's an accomplishment definitely from where we came from last year, 30 win difference, and still got a few games to go," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Proud of our guys with the season they've had."

Dillon Tate notched his fifth save with an uneventful ninth inning.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win in the road season finale

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The Orioles have four games left in the 2022 season as they continue to seek at least one more win to achieve their first winning season since going 89-73 in 2016.

Today they play the final road game of this series and road trip, and the final road game of the season. They can win the series with a victory today. They are 2-4 on this road trip and 37-43 on the season in road games. They are 10-13-2 in their road series this year.

The Orioles beat the Yankees 2-1 on Friday night, holding New York to four hits as Jordan Lyles pitched seven innings and the O’s got one each from Félix Bautista and DL Hall, who recorded his first MLB save. But Saturday, the Orioles were held to three hits in an 8-0 loss to New York.

The Orioles were shutout for the second time in 13 games, the fourth in 26 games, the 11th time on the season and the third time by the Yankees, who also pitched shutouts against Baltimore on May 25 and July 24.

New York pitchers recorded their 16th shutout of the season. The game marked just the second time in the last 44 seasons, since 1979, that the Yankees have recorded as many shutouts in a year. They also had 16 in 1998. Yankees batters homered twice Saturday and they lead MLB with 246 home runs. That number is their third-most in a single season in franchise history, trailing only the 306 in 2019 and 267 in 2018.

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Updating the rotation for the last series (and more)

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NEW YORK – The Orioles have set two-thirds of their rotation for the final series of 2022.

Dean Kremer and Mike Baumann are starting the first two games against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards. The spot for Wednesday afternoon is listed as TBA.

Manager Brandon Hyde said he wants to check on veteran Jordan Lyles, who’s made a career-high 32 starts this season and is one inning short of the career-high 180 he reached last year with the Rangers.

Grayson Rodriguez, the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball, has been throwing to stay ready in case of a late promotion, but the Orioles aren’t expected to select his contract this week.

Asked about Rodriguez, Hyde said, “That would be a question for Mike (Elias). Moving prospects to the big leagues, those are directed to the front office decisions.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees

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NEW YORK – The Orioles have reached the final road game of the 2022 season.

A win would make the Orioles 38-43 away from home. But the forecast today is brutal. The Yankees will make every attempt to play with a sellout crowd hoping to witness Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run.

Kyle Stowers is the designated hitter today. Terrin Vavra is playing second base.

Rookie Kyle Bradish is making his final start of the season. He’s registered a 5.11 ERA and 1.393 WHIP in 22 games.

Bradish tossed 8 2/3 scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, no walks and 10 strikeouts against the Astros on Sept. 22, but he lasted only 2 1/3 innings in Boston and was charged with seven runs.

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Getting crowded on the farm at higher levels in the infield

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Having too many good players is not really a problem for any major league club. As we look down the road a year or two at the Orioles infield, it is starting to get crowded between players we’ve already seen in Baltimore and players on the way.

Of the current top 18 players on the O’s top 30 prospects list via MLBPipeline.com, nine are infielders, and seven of the nine have played at least as high as Double-A already. The depth is strong.

Gunnar Henderson, at least for now, is still prospect eligible and is the club’s No. 1 prospect with Jackson Holliday at No. 3, Jordan Westburg No. 5, Coby Mayo No. 7, Connor Norby No. 11, Max Wagner No. 15, Darell Hernaiz No. 16, Joey Ortiz No 17 and César Prieto No. 18.

Only four players can start on the infield each day, they tell me.

How will the Orioles handle this? Will there be trades? Will any of these players have to move positions?

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On chemistry and who's going to lead

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NEW YORK – The mood yesterday morning inside and outside the Orioles’ clubhouse made it appear that Game 162 was due to begin in a few hours.

The media was armed with reflective questions on the season. The pain and disappointment of falling out of the wild card race. The pride and joy of lasting until the morning of Oct. 1. When it dawned on the team that it could win. What needs to be done to improve in 2023.

The Orioles were preparing for Game 158.

Elimination felt like the end, but the Orioles want to claim their weekend series in the Bronx and return home to fans who should salute them. And hop on flights Wednesday night or Thursday morning as the first Orioles team to finish above .500 since 2016.

They’re only guaranteed to be .500 with their 81 victories.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win at New York

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After a pitching-led 2-1 win over the New York Yankees Friday night the O’s return to the Bronx this afternoon for Game 2 of the weekend series. They will have a series win if they take one of the next two games.

At 81-76 the Orioles have clinched .500 season and now have five games left to record their first winning season since going 89-73 in 2016.

The wins by Tampa Bay and Seattle Friday eliminated the Orioles from playoff contention. Both teams now have 86 wins, and that is the max number the O's can reach. But Baltimore would lose tiebreakers to both teams, and so they are eliminated from wild-card contention. 

It was another night without much going on for the Baltimore offense, which has had a roller coaster of a road trip for the bats. On Monday and Tuesday at Fenway Park, the Orioles scored 23 runs, hit nine homers and went 10-for-26 with runners in scoring position. Now the last three games – two at Boston and one at New York – they have scored six total runs on 21 hits while going 1-for-21 with RISP.

The Orioles have scored three runs or fewer 14 times the past 25 games and got a rare win in such instances last night. They're now are 3-11 in those 14 games.

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Struggling now, what is outlook for O's 2023 offense?

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There are a lot of ways to evaluate a team on offense, but I often revert to an easy one. How many runs do they score? That is the best evaluation tool, right? It doesn’t matter how a team gets there, but scoring runs is pretty important.

Heading into the series at Yankee Stadium, in the 2022 season the American League team average for runs per game was at 4.24. The Orioles average was – yep, exactly 4.24. They are a league-average offense in the stat that matters most.

But what fans see is an offense that is very inconsistent. Since Sept. 4, the Orioles have scored three runs or fewer 14 times in the last 25 games, going 3-11 in those games. They picked up the third win last night. But their offense has come up short often in the season's final days. The Boston series was the latest example of the consistency issue. The Orioles scored 23 runs the first two games at Fenway Park and four in the last two. A nice four-game average, but surely inconsistent, and fans remember them struggling against Rich Hill and then coming up short again Thursday.

You want a real surprise? The Orioles team OPS for September is .736. That is much better than their season-long number and ranks sixth in the American League. I guess scoring 23 runs in back-to-back games in Boston and all those homers helped that. They scored 10 in one game versus Houston. But certainly, the offense has been very inconsistent. There is that word again.

The Orioles rank 11th in the AL in batting average at .238, and league average is .243. They rank 11th in OBP at .306, below the average of .310. They are just above average in slugging and rank seventh at .395 with the league average at .393. The league average team OPS is .702 (it was .731 last year) and the Orioles are ninth at .700.

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O's game blog: O's face Judge and Yankees in the Bronx

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With their playoff hopes about all but over and elimination likely near, the Orioles begin a series at Yankee Stadium tonight, playing a three-game set versus the New York Yankees. The clubs played 13 times in the season’s first 45 games and just one series since, three games right out of the All-Star break.

The Orioles (80-76) have lost three in a row, five of six and nine of 14 games. They are 9-15 the last 24 games and are 12-15 in September with one game to go in the month. Their elimination number is one.

The Orioles scored 23 runs and hit nine homers in the first two games of their series at Boston this week. But they scored just four runs on two homers in the last two games. They have scored three runs or fewer in 13 of the last 24 games, going 2-11 in those 13.

As this series begins, the Yankees' Aaron Judge is sitting on 61 homers. His two-run shot in the seventh inning Wednesday night tied Roger Maris (who hit 61 in 1961) for the American League record for homers. Both men now with one more than the 60 Babe Ruth hit in 1927. If Judge homers again in the final six games, he will alone be the single-season AL record holder for homers in a year.

At the same time he is also trying to become just the second player since 1967 to win the Triple Crown. For the year, over 151 games, he is batting .313/.425/.699/1.121 with 61 homers and 130 RBIs. Mike Trout is second in homers with 38 and José Ramírez is second with 119 RBIs. But Judge begins this weekend second in the AL in batting average, which is led by Minnesota’s Luis Arraez at .315.

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Orioles announce 2022 award winners for player development and scouting

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The Orioles today announced the winners of their player development and scouting awards for 2022, including infielder JORDAN WESTBURG as the club’s top minor league player and right-handed pitcher RYAN WATSON as the club’s top minor league pitcher. Aberdeen Manager ROBERTO MERCADO and Area Scout SCOTT WALTER will also be honored by the organization. The award winners will be recognized in an on-field ceremony prior the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, October 4, with awards presented by Director of Player Development MATT BLOOD, Director of Minor League Operations KENT QUALLS, and Director of Draft Operations BRAD CIOLEK.

Westburg, 23, slashed .265/.355/.496 (144-for-544) with 39 doubles, three triples, 27 homers, 96 runs scored, 106 RBI, 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 RBI. 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 RBI, tied for the league lead with 25 doubles, while also ranking second in the IL with 46 extra-base hits, 184 total bases, and 64 runs scored through the end of the season. The former 2020 Compensation A pick out of Mississippi State University became the first O’s minor leaguer with 100+ RBI in a season since Jason Fransz drove in 111 for Single-A Delmarva in 2005. Westburg is ranked as the 77th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline and the 90th-best prospect by Baseball America.

Watson, 24, was 7-5 with one save and a 3.44 ERA (41 ER/107.1 IP), allowing 89 hits, 45 total runs, 16 home runs, nine hit batters, 29 walks, and 108 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .223 average (89-for-399) in 27 games (18 starts) between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He allowed just two hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts across 13.0 scoreless innings in three games (one start) to begin the season for the Baysox and was named the Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April. The former free agent signee in a round-shortened draft in 2020 out of Auburn University finished fourth in the organization in innings pitched, and his ERA ranked second among Orioles minor leaguers with at least 80 innings pitched.

Mercado has been named the winner of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Player Development Award, named for the late Orioles coach and manager who is widely regarded as the architect of “The Oriole Way.” Each year, a minor league staff member who exemplifies Ripken’s qualities as an instructor is recognized with the award. Mercado enjoyed a successful introduction to professional ball after spending the previous 17 years coaching in the high school ranks in his home state of Connecticut, part of two winters in Australia and New Zealand (Goodwill Series), as well as seven summers in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He led the IronBirds to their first playoff appearance as a High-A club, and first overall since 2013, after winning the South Atlantic League North first half with a 43-23 record. The team finished with the second-best overall record in the league at 78-54. His Aberdeen club advanced to the SAL Championship Series before falling in a winner-take-all third game to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Mercado was instrumental in creating a positive culture and learning environment for the many prospects he managed. Twenty-seven total players were promoted to Double-A Bowie under his watch and 19 of those made their Double-A debuts this season.

Walter was named the Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award, named in honor of the man who spent 33 years in various scouting capacities with the Orioles beginning with their move from St. Louis in 1954. Walter has been a key member of the Orioles’ scouting operations since the fall of 2010, patrolling a large portion of California that ranges from Los Angeles to Northern California and Northern Nevada. Some of his recent signees includes current Major Leaguer KYLE STOWERS (Stanford) and 2022 Compensation A selection DYLAN BEAVERS (California, Berkeley).

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This Week at the Yard

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OCT. 3 VS. TOR AT 7:05 P.M.

IN THE COMMUNITY

The Orioles will host five-year-old Dayonnie and his family at batting practice, as well as provide them with game tickets. Dayonnie is currently undergoing cancer treatments. 

PREGAME CEREMONY: Most Valuable Oriole Award Presentation 

Prior to the game, the Orioles will recognize the Most Valuable Oriole, as voted on by members of the local media. The Most Valuable Oriole Award is named in honor of the late Lou Hatter, a former sportswriter for The Baltimore Sun, who covered the Orioles for 27 years. 

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O's Matt Blood on some of the farm success this season

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No team from the Orioles farm system won a league championship in the minors this year with High-A Aberdeen coming close and losing out on the final game of the playoffs. But it’s been a great year for the Orioles farm and one big reason is that it’s considered among the best farm systems in the sport.

That is not the Orioles saying that, but outside independent sources and three of the most well-regarded and credible. In midseason organization rankings, Baseball America, MLBPipeline.com and ESPN all rated the Baltimore farm system No. 1.

Beyond that, how many farms could even boast of two players that were ranked as the No. 1 prospect from the same organization in the same year as the O’s have had in Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson? And beyond that both those players got to the majors and excelled at the big league level.

In an interview yesterday, O’s director of player development Matt Blood talked about a strong year for the Baltimore farm.

“I’m not sure if there has been another time when two players from the same draft (in 2019) from the same team were ranked No. 1 overall in the prospect rankings,” said Blood. “What we have kind of seen now after four drafts for Mike Elias is that, not only are the first picks excelling and playing well, but the second picks are, too. You look at Henderson and (Jordan) Westburg and (Connor) Norby. They are all getting out in professional baseball and performing.

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Krehbiel: "I'm not mad at anyone but myself"

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BOSTON – Two of manager Brandon Hyde’s most difficult conversations of the season were held this week in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park.

The Orioles optioned relievers Keegan Akin and Joey Krehbiel, placing them on the taxi squad with instructions to stay ready.

Two pitchers who broke camp with the team and lasted until the fourth week of September. Valuable contributors earlier in the summer who became expendable based on the bullpen’s needs and recent performance.

It’s worked out better for Akin. The Orioles recalled him two days later after infielder Ramón Urías went on the injured list with a sprained right knee, and he tossed three scoreless innings Wednesday night.

Krehbiel played catch yesterday and returned to his locker soaked in sweat despite the cool temperatures in Boston. All he’s got are the workouts.

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Tate surrenders late home run and Orioles remain stuck on 80 wins (updated)

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BOSTON – The wild card race remains the primary obsession within the Orioles clubhouse. Until an elimination becomes official, until the magic number makes their aspirations disappear, it will remain their No. 1 goal and why they push so hard through the fatigue and aches and pains.

Of course, there’s also the joy of finishing with a record that isn’t below .500. It hasn’t been done since 2016. And it matters.

The Orioles were denied again the chance to form the handshake line as winners for the 81st time this season. They shuffled back inside the clubhouse today, with bags packed, having lost to the Red Sox 5-3 at Fenway Park.

Kyle Stowers hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning, but J.D. Martinez cleared the Green Monster with a two-run shot off Dillon Tate in the eighth.

With the conclusion of the penultimate road series of 2022, the Orioles head to New York, where Aaron Judge is waiting, and return home for three games against the Blue Jays that gets them to 162.

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O's game blog: Orioles look to win season series against Boston

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With their playoff hopes dwindling to about a small flicker at this point, the Orioles take the field today at Boston. They are looking to split a four-game series and win their season series with the Red Sox.

The last time the Orioles won a season series over Boston was 2017. And today the clubs play their final game of the year with the season series tied at nine wins each.

O’s against Red Sox the last few years:
2021: 6-13
2020: 5-5
2019: 7-12
2018: 3-16
2017: 10-9

The Orioles also lost the season series versus the Red Sox in 2016, going 8-11. But in the four-year stretch from 2012 through 2015, the O’s won all four years, going in order starting in 2012, 13-5 and then 11-8 the next three seasons.

The Orioles (80-75) have lost two in a row, four of five and eight of 13, and are 9-14 the last 23 games. They no longer can have a winning September at 12-14 with two games to play in the month.

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Orioles adjust rotation for Yankees series (and other notes)

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BOSTON – Jordan Lyles has been moved up to Friday night at Yankee Stadium, working on short rest with Aaron Judge one home run away from breaking Roger Maris’ single-season record in the American League.

Lyles was held to two innings on Monday due to the rain.

Austin Voth is pushed back to Saturday, with rookie Kyle Bradish starting Sunday on regular rest.

“This allows Voth to get an extra day, somebody that we’re monitoring closely,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s thrown a lot of innings so far, so give him an extra day, and Jordan after that, bring him back a day early.”

Judge tied Maris’ record last night while in Toronto. The Yankees are off today.

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Orioles and Red Sox lineups

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BOSTON – The Orioles play their final game at Fenway Park today with Gunnar Henderson at third base and Kyle Stowers in left field.

Ryan Mountcastle, who struck out four times last night as the designated hitter, is playing first base.

Cedric Mullins is in center field and Austin Hays is in right. Anthony Santander is the designated hitter.

Terrin Vavra goes to the bench, with Rougned Odor playing second base.

Mike Baumann stays in the rotation and makes his third major league start. He went four innings and threw 58 pitches while allowing two runs against the Astros.

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Chirinos solo homer is only run for Orioles in latest loss (updated)

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BOSTON – Busting through the tape at the finish line is how the Orioles imagined it, the momentum carrying them into the playoffs under the best-case scenario. That’s what they’re trying to do with tired legs.

The last few weeks of the season must feel like ankle weights.

Manager Brandon Hyde sat Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman tonight against veteran left-hander Rich Hill, conceding how badly they needed a rest, especially with marathon games played in succession. Dean Kremer made tonight’s start on his normal turn after throwing 106 pitches in a complete-game shutout.

The dog days bark the loudest. But the Orioles have tuned out the noise all season and will continue to do so to the best of their ability.

Hill, who turns 43 in March, tossed six scoreless innings, and the Orioles lost again, 3-1, at Fenway Park, with a split the best they can do while trying to shove past 80 victories.

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O's game blog: Looking to bounce back with a win at Fenway Park

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The Orioles have scored 23 runs on 29 hits the last two nights at Fenway Park, but they have split the two games. They won 14-8 on Monday and lost 13-9 last night.

The Orioles pitching, which recently had a three-game stretch versus Detroit and Houston where it allowed one run over three games, has now yielded 38 runs over the past four games.

The Orioles bullpen pitched just one-third of an inning during that three-game stretch, but has now given up 21 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings the past four games.

But the Baltimore offense has picked it up a bit lately. The Orioles have scored, as mentioned 23 runs this series, 42 runs the last five games and 52 in the past seven.

In this series, the Orioles have hit four doubles, five triples and nine homers while going 10-for-26 with runners in scoring position.

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Notes on Henderson, lineup, Urías, Nevin, Krehbiel, Zimmermann and more

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BOSTON – Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has described it as “about as meteoric of a season as you’ll see.” The rise of now 21-year-old Gunnar Henderson from Baseball America’s No. 57 overall prospect to No. 1 as the summer months crept toward fall. From minor league stud to major league contributor in a wild card chase.

Henderson keeps leaving an impression on every field and at every level, and Baseball America rewarded him today with his selection as its Minor League Player of the Year.

The youngest position player to make his Orioles debut since Manny Machado in 2012 and the youngest to debut in the majors this season, Henderson hit a combined .297/.416/.531 with 24 doubles, seven triples, 19 home runs and 76 RBIs in 112 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk – drawing 41 walks and striking out 38 times with the Baysox.

“It’s just a great honor and I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with the ability to be in this situation and to bless me with these awards that come with this stuff,” Henderson said this afternoon.

“Looking forward to keeping it going after this.”

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