Orioles pregame notes on Kimbrel, Bradish and Means returns, Kjerstad and more

Kimbrel pitching black

Craig Kimbrel is feeling much better after leaving Sunday’s game against Oakland with tightness in his upper back. However, his availability for tonight remains in question.

Manager Brandon Hyde couldn’t provide much of an update during his media session.

“Not really sure,” Hyde said. “He’s going through some treatment stuff right now and then I’m going to talk to him here in a little bit. But as of right now at 3:42, I’m not really sure.”

Kimbrel did some stretching exercises on the field, played catch and had an extensive bullpen session. He appeared to be throwing with maximum effort.

Hyde is going with a closer by committee during Kimbrel’s absence, with Danny Coulombe getting the last three outs last night for his third career save.

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Orioles lineup vs. Yankees in second game of series

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Jorge Mateo gets the start at second base tonight for the Orioles and James McCann is behind the plate.

Heston Kjerstad stays on the bench against a left-hander, former Orioles Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes. He’s been in the lineup once since the Orioles recalled him last Tuesday.

Colton Cowser is in left field and batting ninth. Jordan Westburg is the third baseman.

Dean Kremer is making his sixth start. He’s posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.061 WHIP in 27 1/3 innings.

Kremer struck out 10 batters over 5 1/3 innings in his last start in Anaheim. He has a 5.04 ERA and 1.410 WHIP in nine career starts against the Yankees.

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Another O's win that had Gunnar Henderson's impact all over it

Henderson stretches to make play

When Gunnar Henderson drove a Clarke Schmidt curveball to the flag court in right – a ball he smoked at 112.3 mph, his hardest-hit homer this year – the Orioles series with the Yankees was off and running.

They got off to a good start and had a strong finish.

No leads got away on this night as the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 2-0 to improve to 18-10 and tie for first place. Technically, via a win percentage of .643 to New York’s .633, the O’s have the AL East lead.

It was another O’s win that had Henderson’s fingerprints all over it. Another game where he showed off his massive baseball tools. Another game where his impact was vast and the plays he made big.

He helped beat the Yankees with his bat, his glove and his speed.

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O's game blog: The series opener against the New York Yankees

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After two blown leads and losing a series over the weekend with Oakland, the Orioles' homestand continues tonight as they host the New York Yankees in a first-place showdown.

The O’s 7-6 loss Sunday handed them their third series loss against six wins this season. Overall the Orioles (17-10) have won five of the last eight, 10 of 13 and 12 of their past 18 games.

The Yankees (19-10) played great baseball to start this season and were 12-3 after 15 games. They have gone 7-7 since. Their past three series they went 2-1 against Tampa Bay, 2-2 versus Oakland and 2-1 at Milwaukee.

They lost to the Brewers 7-6 in 11 innings Friday night but won by a 15-3 score Saturday and by 15-5 yesterday. So that is 30 runs on 37 hits in the past two days, with five doubles and seven home runs.

Yankees batters scored 36 runs in their three games at Milwaukee, marking just the second time in the last seven seasons the Yankees have scored as many runs in a three-game series. They put up 43 runs in three games versus Toronto from Sept. 15-17, 2020. The series also marked the second time in the last four seasons they have hit at least 10 homers in a three-game series (they hit 11 in 3G vs. Chicago-NL from 6/10-12/22).

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Colton Cowser and Ryan Mountcastle talk about the Yankees series

mountcastle dugout

Coming off a series loss to Oakland and preparing to face a Yankees team at Camden Yards that scored 15 runs each the last two days, the Orioles have to quickly move on from their tough weekend with the Athletics.

“Yeah, absolutely,” outfielder Colton Cowser said this afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse. “You have to have a short memory in this league. Got the Yankees coming to town, so it’s good to have a short memory and get on to the next one.”

Added Ryan Mountcastle: “It’s a new series and new day. We’re excited to get this series going and, hopefully, get some wins.”

It’s a battle for first over the next four days in Baltimore with New York (19-10) on top of the division by one game over the Orioles (17-10).

The Orioles are 3-0 in American League East games with a series sweep at Boston. New York has gone 5-4 in two series versus Toronto and one with Tampa Bay.

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Pérez comes off IL, Tate optioned

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The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

  • Reinstated LHP Cionel Pérez from the 15-day Injured List (right oblique strain).
  • Optioned RHP Dillon Tate to Triple-A Norfolk.
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Battle for the AL East lead: O's and Yankees begin four-game set tonight

Adley Rutschman

The Orioles have played nine series thus far, but just one versus an American League East opponent. They swept Boston at Fenway Park April 9-11 by 7-1, 7-5 and 9-4 scores.

That changes tonight when the top two teams in the AL East meet for four games over four days in a first-place showdown. After scoring a combined 30 runs the last two games at Milwaukee, the New York Yankees are 19-10 and lead the division by one game over the Orioles at 17-10.

Baltimore went 32-20 (.615) against the AL East last year, the second-best winning percentage against the division by the O's since 1981 behind the .618 (47-29) mark in 2014. The Birds won the season series against Toronto (10-3), and Tampa Bay (8-5), and went 7-6 each against Boston and New York. It was the first time since 2014 that the Orioles won the season series against each of their division opponents.

And beginning play tonight, the Orioles have a 15-series unbeaten streak riding against AL East opponents. They have won 11 and tied four series within their division since losing their first two of last season. This is the longest such streak in team history, topping 13 straight in 1969.

How important is a four-game series with the Yankees in April? It will be important for the Orioles to show they can hold their own with a New York team that a lot of outlets favored to win this division. They are the Yankees, and they always get attention, usually way too much. The Orioles won the division last year and they hold the current title of AL East champs.

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Mansolino offers infield opinions of Westburg, Holliday, Henderson and Mountcastle

Jordan Westburg

Jordan Westburg began yesterday’s game on the bench, only the second time this season that his name was missing from the lineup. He wouldn’t budge because of a stomach virus, robbing the Orioles of a bat that might have impacted the outcome of the game, a 7-6 loss to the Athletics.

Westburg has made 18 starts at third base and six at second, and he’s also served once as the designated hitter. He’ll return to the infield tonight if he’s recovered from the bug, still charged with only one error in 93 major league games.

Memories are fuzzy when it comes to identifying the location and exact situation, but Westburg’s lone miscue happened on Aug. 15, 2023 in San Diego. Manager Brandon Hyde did some shuffling after the top of the seventh inning, moving Ramón Urías from third base to first, shifting Ryan O’Hearn from first to right field, and sending Westburg into the game to play third.

The Orioles were down 10-1 when the first batter in the inning, Xander Bogaerts reached on a ground ball that Westburg fielded to his left before bouncing the throw. Urías couldn’t handle it and Westburg was charged with the error.

Bogaerts raced to third base on Jake Cronenworth’s double, but Mike Baumann escaped the jam with two strikeouts and a fly ball. No harm done.

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O's game blog: Suárez faces Oakland as O's look for another series victory

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The Orioles have won six of their eight series in the 2024 season – losing series only to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee – and they can add another series win today. They host Oakland in the finale of a three-game set in which the A’s won Friday and the Orioles won yesterday.

At 17-9 with 12 wins their last 17 games, the Orioles are tied for first with the Yankees atop the American League East. But they lead the division by percentage points, playing .654 ball to .643 for New York. Those two clubs begin a four-game series at Oriole Park on Monday night. 

Baltimore’s 7-0 win on Saturday produced the Orioles' second shutout of the year, both in the last six games and both started by lefty Cole Irvin.

He pitched seven scoreless innings on four hits and is now 2-1 with a 3.49 ERA. That makes 13 2/3 scoreless on eight hits for Irvin in his past two starts. And over his last three, he has allowed just two runs in 18 1/3 innings for an ERA of 0.98 with a 0.87 WHIP in that span.

Irvin beat his former team and now has won two consecutive starts for the first time in his career. He extended his scoreless streak to 14 1/3 innings, the longest scoreless‐innings streak of his career, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

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McCann on Irvin's strong pitching and more on the Jim Henneman Press Box

irvin pitches orange

Catcher James McCann could see that lefty Cole Irvin had good stuff and strong location early on Saturday versus Oakland. Irvin rolled through three perfect innings on 33 pitches.

But McCann was not thinking scoreless start at that point. He was trying to set up and work the hitters for later in that game.

“No, not trying to think that far ahead,” he said after the Orioles’ 7-0 win. “What you try to do is get certain pitches involved at certain times. And then make adjustments as to how that pitcher is landing the pitches.”

Irvin kept getting outs and pitched seven scoreless innings and joined Corbin Burnes and Dean Kremer as O’s pitchers to go seven this year. He allowed just four hits and is now 2-1 with a 3.49 ERA.

“He had a really good mix. He’s using both sides of the plate. Able to use his off-speed early, his fastball early and locate it all. Had four pitches to both sides of the plate,” said McCann.

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Irvin shines again with latest gem in 7-0 win (updated)

Irvin pitching orange

The Orioles are close to testing the age-old baseball theory that teams never can have too much pitching.

Cole Irvin must wonder how he plays into the experiment.

Kyle Bradish is leaving his injury rehab assignment and starting for the Orioles next week. John Means makes his final rehab appearance on Sunday, which sets up his return.

The process of elimination could make Irvin vulnerable to a bullpen shift, but the timing would be peculiar given his recent dominance. A whole new meaning to leaving on a high note.

Irvin stated his case again today at high volume to be left alone. After tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings last weekend in Kansas City, he shut out the Athletics for seven in a 7-0 victory before an announced crowd of 28,364 at chilly and damp Camden Yards.

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O's game blog: O's looking to even the three-game series with a win over Oakland

Henderson and Santander

After letting a one-run lead in the ninth get away in last night’s 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Oakland, the Orioles (16-9) host the Athletics (11-16) today in the second of a three-game series.

Oakland has scored three runs or less in eight straight games, scoring 21 in that span. They have also homered in each of the eight games and this is now the longest such streak in MLB history.

Overall, the A’s have homered in 11 consecutive games (15 home runs total), which is the longest such streak by an A’s team over the last three seasons. The last longer streak was a 13-game streak from Aug. 1-16, 2021.

After Friday’s win, the Athletics are 6-5 in one-run games. The 11 one-run decisions are tied with the Yankees for the most in the majors. However, four of their losses have been by eight or more runs so Oakland has a run differential of -37, which is the fourth lowest in the majors.

Going into Friday’s series opener, the Orioles had scored at least seven runs in four straight games against the A’s. Baltimore has never scored 7+ runs in five consecutive games against Oakland and won’t in this run after being held to two runs Friday. The Orioles are 0-5 when scoring two runs or less.

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Kyle Bradish set to join Orioles rotation

Bradish pitching postseason

Kyle Bradish is coming back to the Orioles, and a little faster than anticipated.

Manager Brandon Hyde said Bradish is returning to the major league rotation. The right-hander’s injury rehab assignment will end early.

Bradish started last night for Triple-A Norfolk and held Gwinnett to one run in five innings, with one walk and six strikeouts. He’s stretched out to 77 pitches.

The assignment technically began on April 16 with three scoreless innings at Double-A Bowie, and the 30-day period would have carried Bradish into the middle of May. However, he threw a live batting practice session on April 11 at High-A Aberdeen, which sped up the process to get him ready.

“He threw the ball really well last night and our medical team talked to him this morning,” Hyde said. “Our pitching guys, as well. He feels great. We’re just looking right now kind of when to slot him in, but he’s going to be with us soon.”

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Irvin back on mound as Orioles try to even series with Athletics

irvin pitching white

Colton Cowser stays in left field this afternoon and Jorge Mateo gets the start at second base, as the Orioles attempt to bounce back from last night’s 3-2, 10-inning loss to Oakland.

James McCann is catching, with Adley Rutschman serving as designated hitter.

Anthony Santander is batting .303/.425/.606 (10-for-33) with five doubles, one triple, one home run, four RBIs, five walks and four runs scored in his last nine games since April 16. He’s in right field today and batting cleanup.

Ryan Mountcastle has registered a .937 OPS when batting third this season, more than .150 points higher than his OPS when hitting in all other spots (.756), per STATS. He’s the first baseman.

Left-hander Cole Irvin, trying to hold onto his spot in the rotation, is coming off his finest outing with the Orioles. He shut out the Royals over 6 2/3 innings Sunday in Kansas City. They batted .133 against his fastball.

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A take on the Holliday decision, plus notes on Friday's game and Bradish's outing at AAA

Holliday in dugout

Before Friday’s game, the Orioles made a tough decision. They decided to send 20-year-old Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the sport, back to the minor leagues.

After he showed the club a hot bat in spring training and also at the start of the Triple-A season for Norfolk, he struggled in his first shot at the big leagues.

Just a couple of days before the Orioles would have guaranteed he would stay with the club at least for seven big league seasons, they called him up, showing this was not about service time. But the kid struggled. He played solid defense and showed plenty of capabilities at second base. But he failed to hit big-league pitching. At least this time, going 2-for-34 with 18 strikeouts.  

"Again, ultimately, do I like the way that this has gone in April totally? No, and I feel responsible for that,” Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said before the game. “But it’s possible, just like it was for Grayson (Rodriguez) or Colton Cowser or any of these guys, that this was sort of a necessary development episode to be exposed to this before you’re fully ready for it. And now the work that you put in, you kind of know exactly what you need to do when you get back up there, and that’s valuable.

“It comes at a cost to get that negative feedback, but it’s valuable, and I guarantee you Jackson’s going to channel that well.”

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Orioles trying to follow path of 1966 champions

Robinson, Powell, Palmer first pitch

The Orioles scored twice last night in the opening game of another homestand, a paltry output by their standards but also exhibiting two ways they can go about their offensive business.

They collected three singles in the third inning, the last two with two outs, keeping a rally alive and passing the bat to the next guy.

Cedric Mullins launched a changeup onto the flag court in right field in the fourth to break a tie. They also can flex their muscle.

This is a special group, with numbers early on that haven’t been posted here in a long time.

The game began with the Orioles leading the American League with a .260 average, .459 slugging percentage and .780 OPS. The last time they finished a season first in all three categories was also the first time they were crowned champions.

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O's game blog: Corbin Burnes gets the series-opener versus Oakland

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After winning two of three in each stop of their road trip (Kansas City and Anaheim, Calif.), the Orioles host Oakland tonight to begin a seven-game homestand.

When Oakland beat the Yankees yesterday 3-1 to split that four-game series, the Orioles and Yankees moved into a tie for first in the American League East with the O’s technically leading the division by percentage points, .667 to .654.

The Orioles, who have won four of five, eight of 10 and 11 of their past 15 games, have the second-best record in the AL behind Cleveland (18-7, .720).

The Orioles’ plus-29 run differential ranks third in the AL behind Cleveland (plus 49) and Kansas City (plus 39).

The Orioles are 8-4 at home and have won three straight series.

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Orioles select McKenna contract, option Holliday as Bañuelos DFA

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The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

  • Selected the contract of OF Ryan McKenna from Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Optioned 2B/SS Jackson Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk.
  • Designated C David Bañuelos for assignment.
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A look at Jordan Westburg's early season breakout at the plate

Jordan Westburg

Gunnar Henderson is having a remarkable start to his season for the Orioles and is second in the American League with an OPS of 1.022. One of his teammates is fifth and it's not Adley Rutschman or Anthony Santander, Ryan O'Hearn or Ryan Mountcastle. It's not Colton Cowser, who has an OPS of 1.139 but not enough plate appearances to qualify for league leaders.

It is Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg, who like his friend and teammate Cowser, has sure taken his game to a higher level this season. And with an OPS of .941, it is Westburg that ranks fifth-best right now in the AL. He is keeping company with some great hitters as the Yankees Juan Soto is one spot ahead of him while Mike Trout and Bobby Witt Jr. are behind Westburg.

After waiting his chance to get to the bigs – he had 714 plate appearances combined in 2022 and 2023 at Triple-A Norfolk – he finally got his first big league opportunity late last June.

He’s been running with it ever since.

And this is a high draft pick, but not a 1/1 like Rutschman or Jackson Holliday or the No. 2 pick in the draft like Heston Kjerstad or No. 5 like Cowser. He was taken No. 30 overall out of Mississippi State in the 2020 MLB Draft.

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

Gunnar Henderson

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

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

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

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

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

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