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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Trey Mancini: Astros quite impressed with Bradish and Kremer

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Anyone watching the Orioles the last two nights had to be impressed with their pitching after back-to-back shutouts of the Astros, who lead the American League with 99 wins. A Houston team that entered this series third in the AL in runs scored, winners of 10 of their last 11 games and with a seven-game road win streak.

Then Houston lost 2-0 and was held to two hits and lost 6-0 and held to four hits.

O’s starters Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer threw 17 2/3 scoreless innings with two walks and 16 strikeouts combined.

Count former Oriole Trey Mancini among those impressed. Mancini talked about those two Baltimore pitchers today from the visiting clubhouse at Oriole Park.

“The stuff is electric. Both of them,” Mancini said. “Both times we saw them they shut us down and it’s not an easy offense to shut down. You have to tip your hat to them. They did a great job out there and the stuff looks really good. I was their teammate for a long time and to see them come along the way they have is very impressive. The stuff has always been there and now that they are pounding the strike zone, it’s tough to hit.

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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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On night of great pitching, O's also made gains in wild card race

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In recent days, some fans in Birdland have begun to slowly check out a bit on the 2022 Major League Baseball season. But just when some headed out, did the Orioles pull them back in?

Looks that way.

With a stunning run of pitching that includes allowing just one run over the last three games, the Orioles are now three games behind Seattle for the third American League wild-card spot. Tampa Bay and Toronto (84-67) are tied for the top two spots with the Orioles 4 1/2 games behind both clubs.

Is edging out Toronto, in what would be a stunning late-season run, the Orioles' best path to the playoffs? Probably yes, because of the three games the teams still have to play to end the regular season at Oriole Park.

Now 4 1/2 games behind Toronto, the Birds would need to gain 1 1/2 games on Toronto in the next 10 days to be within three games with three to play when the clubs begin that series in Baltimore on Monday, Oct. 3.

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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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O's game blog: Dean Kremer faces Houston in series Game 2

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The score is 8-4. Not from last night’s game, but from four games this year played between the Orioles and the 99-win Astros, who have the best record in the American League. Yep, four games and a total of 12 runs scored by the teams.

In a Houston series that began Aug. 26, the Orioles won by 2-0 and 3-1 before losing 3-1. They won the series opener in Baltimore last night 2-0.

In those four games, O’s pitching has allowed just four runs versus the Astros. O’s starting pitchers have recorded an ERA of 0.59, allowing nine hits and two runs over 30 1/3 innings. That is against a Houston team that began this series third in the AL averaging 4.58 runs per game and third in the league in slugging and team OPS.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish took a perfect game to the sixth inning last night as he retired the first 17 batters he faced before No. 9 hitter Mauricio Dubon singled to left. Bradish came within an out of pitching a second straight complete game for the Orioles after Jordan Lyles did so Wednesday against the Tigers. He allowed two hits over 8 2/3 with no walks and 10 strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches, 70 for strikes, and improved to 4-7 with a 4.65 ERA.

In two starts this season versus Houston, Bradish has thrown 16 2/3 scoreless, allowing just four hits. Houston batters have gone 4-for-53 (.075) against him. In his last six starts, Bradish has an ERA of 1.64 and has allowed just one homer and an OPS of .420 over 38 1/3 innings. He has thrown seven innings or more in four of the six starts, and the Orioles are 4-2 in those games.

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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

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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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Orioles recall Spenser Watkins from Triple-A Norfolk

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The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled RHP Spenser Watkins from Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Placed RHP Tyler Wells on the 15-day Injured List with right shoulder inflammation, retroactive to September 20.
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O's rookie Terrin Vavra gets his bat going again

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Orioles infielder/outfielder Terrin Vavra's bat has started to heat up again, just as it did when he first got to the majors and went 6-for-13, batting .462 to start to his big league career.

Nothing to it, right?

Of course, we know that is not true. And while Vavra looks solid and comfortable again at the plate, for about a month starting in early August he was struggling, and not playing very much. Then he left the team briefly on paternity leave.

Over an 18-game stretch he was just 6-for-37 (.162).

“That was a big learning stage for me,” Vavra said before Thursday’s game. “It was easy to get frustrated right away. You know, when you are not getting opportunities, it’s not the easiest to get back into a rhythm, so you kind of have to create that. Luckily, we have some great guys in this clubhouse that helped me with that, as well as some great hitting coaches. Just try to a find a routine and build rhythm with that, so when you do get your chance you can, hopefully, feel more comfortable at the plate.”

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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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O's game blog: The Houston series opener

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Fresh off their 8-1 win Wednesday night over the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles host the Houston Astros tonight at Oriole Park. In late August, the O’s won two of three at Houston, in what may have been one of their most impressive series wins of the year.

Houston (99-51) has already clinched the American League West and comes to Baltimore as a team on a roll. They just swept three in a row from Tampa Bay, pitching two shutouts in that series. Overall they have won four in a row by a combined 25-4 score. Houston has won 10 of 11 and 18 of its last 22 games. They are 49-28 on the road, winning seven straight and 11 of 12 on the road.

But at Minute Maid Park recently, the O’s won the first two games by 2-0 and 3-1 scores, before losing the series finale by 3-1. Their series win was so impressive as Houston entered that series with a 42-18 home record on the year, with seven straight wins at home at the time and with a 27-8 record in their previous 35 at home.

The O’s got incredible pitching that weekend in Houston allowing 14 hits and four runs in three games. Their three starters – Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Austin Voth – combined to pitch 21 2/3 innings allowing seven hits and two runs.

The Orioles (77-71) ended that series just 1.5 games behind the final AL wild card. Now, with 14 games left, they are four games behind Seattle for the final spot and they are 4.5 back of Tampa Bay and 6.5 behind Toronto. The Rays and Blue Jays begin a four-game series tonight in Florida.

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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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O's Cedric Mullins on again facing Verlander and the return of Trey

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The Orioles task tonight does not sound easy. Just beat a red-hot Houston team with potential AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (17-3, 1.78 ERA) on the mound.

The Astros are 19-6 in Verlander’s starts this year and his ERA is 1.21 since June 24.

Piece of cake, right?

Houston is 99-51, best record in the AL and have won four in a row, 10 of 11 and 18 of 22 games.

The Orioles, behind great pitching, did take two of three at Houston at the end August. But they failed to sweep, losing the Sunday game in that series that was started by Verlander. But Verlander left that start after allowing three hits in three scoreless innings with right calf discomfort. It led him to the injured list and he just recently returned from the IL to throw five no-run, no-hit innings against Oakland last Friday.

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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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Aberdeen falls in SAL championship as Bowling Green takes league title

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ABERDEEN, Md. – Seeking their first-ever league championship and the first by an O’s farm team in seven years, the high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds came up short tonight at Ripken Stadium.

Bowling Green, a Tampa Bay affiliate, got the lead on a bases-loaded balk call and later added three more runs as they beat Aberdeen 4-0 to win the South Atlantic League championship series, two wins to one.

The IronBirds had a strong regular season, going 78-54 and then beat Brooklyn in three games in a semifinal playoff series. But they lost tonight’s third and deciding game to the Hot Rods for the SAL championship.

Aberdeen was searching for its first title since becoming an O’s farm club in 2002 and first by a Baltimore affiliate since Double-A Bowie won the Eastern League in 2015.

The balk call came in the top of the fifth with two outs and the bases loaded. Right-hander Connor Gillispie started the inning for Aberdeen and Logan Driscoll drilled a leadoff double. After a pop out, Bowling Green loaded the bases with a single and walk. Then Aberdeen manager Roberto Mercado called for righty Kade Strowd to try and pitch out of the jam. He just about did.

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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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O's game blog: Trying to avoid a sweep at Oriole Park

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To say the least, the Orioles have had their struggles with the last-place Detroit Tigers this year. In May, right after the Orioles had impressively taken two of three at St. Louis, they lost three straight at Comerica Park by a combined 12-3 score. Then they came home Monday night, after Sunday’s ninth-inning comeback win at Toronto and lost 11-0. They lost to the same team 3-2 last night.

Tonight the Tigers (57-91) can sweep this three-game series and their season series against the Orioles with another win at Oriole Park. The O’s, outscored 26-5 this season by Detroit, need to get back in the win column tonight.

The Orioles (76-71) need to go 6-9 or better in their remaining 15 games to post a winning record for the first time since 2016. In the wild card race, Baltimore is five games behind Seattle for the final wild card spot in the AL and are 5.5 back of Tampa Bay and 7.5 games back of Toronto.

The Orioles continue to have problems putting up consistent offense. They have just two runs and one extra-base hit, a homer, in this series, going 8-for-61 (.131) at-bat and going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Birds have scored three runs or less in 14 of their past 23 games. They’ve scored just 10 runs in their past six home games, getting two or less four times.

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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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