Westburg honored, Hays stays out of lineup and other notes

Westburg in the cage

Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg was named the American League’s Player of the Week after batting .478 (11-for-23) with a .913 slugging percentage, two doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBIs, a walk, five runs scored and a stolen base in six games.

Westburg led the majors in batting average and OPS (1.413), tied for the lead in total bases (21) and ranked second in slugging. He tied for the AL lead in RBIs and tied for third in on-base percentage (.500) and hits (11).

The Orioles are on an award roll with Colton Cowser winning it last week.

This is only the third time that the team’s had back-to-back recipients. Eddie Murray won it on Sept. 13-20, 1981. Don Baylor was honored on Aug. 10, 1975, followed by co-winners Jim Palmer and Ken Singleton on the 17th.

Westburg is batting .457 (16-for-35) during a nine-game hitting streak. He’s batting third tonight in Anaheim, where the Orioles begin a three-game series.

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O's held off K.C. Saturday night, shut them out Sunday and now are on a 108-win pace

Cole Irvin

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Orioles road trip will be in SoCal tonight for the beginning of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. They headed west Sunday with some momentum after outlasting the Royals on Saturday night and beating them 5-0 yesterday.

A most welcome strong start from lefty Cole Irvin led to the latest series win, it was just the third outing this year of 6 2/3 or more innings by an Oriole. The Orioles recorded their first shutout of the year after posting 12 last season.

Irvin provided the club its second scoreless start of the new year after Albert Suárez had one Wednesday versus Minnesota. This was just the second quality start by an Oriole in the last 11 games and their eighth on the year. Grayson Rodriguez has three, Corbin Burnes two and now with one each are Irvin, Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer.

Irvin’s outing was versus a K.C. team that had won nine in a row at home until Saturday’s loss. A Royals club that had scored 16 runs in the first two games of this series and began play Sunday averaging 5.14 runs per game – third-best in the AL.

It was an impressive outing, and an impressive series win against a K.C. club that is 2-4 versus the Orioles, but 11-5 against everybody else.

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Irvin and bullpen combine on shutout, Cowser has more fountain fun (updated)

Colton Cowser home run trot

KANSAS CITY – Colton Cowser might chug a fountain drink later today with his postgame meal. Maybe crank up an old Fountains of Wayne tune. He’s got a theme going and should play it out before the team arrives in Anaheim later tonight.

Less than 16 hours after tossing a baseball over his head and into the fountain in left field, forgetting that closer Craig Kimbrel would want to keep it, Cowser launched a four-seamer from Royals starter Seth Lugo into the waterfall in right-center.

A stadium worker retrieved that one, as well, though it didn’t represent any sort of milestone. More like Cowser washing down a delicious irony.

"Did it get there?" Cowser asked. "I still feel terrible about what happened yesterday. I've apologized to Craig so much. But yeah, it's kind of funny, I guess. I don't think it's crazy funny, but put a good swing on it, so pretty proud of myself there."

Jordan Westburg followed Cowser’s third-inning blast with a home run to left that also would have splashed down if not for a fan in the top row of bleachers deflecting it with his hand. Not everyone was on board.

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O's game blog: The series finale at Kansas City

irvin pitches orange

The Orioles and Royals today play the last game of their three-game series at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. After this one, the Orioles move on to Aneheim for three games with the Angels.

The clubs have split two games, with the Royals winning 9-4 on Friday and the Orioles holding off a furious K.C. rally, 9-7 last night.

It was a wild one where the Orioles scored seven runs in the second inning to knock lefty Cole Ragans out of the game. But a 7-0 lead almost got away. When K.C. scored four in the last of the seventh, they had pulled within 8-7. Anthony Santander's third double of the night gave them a 9-7 lead in the eighth.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a 1-2-3 last of the ninth on nine pitches, getting Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and Salvador Perez as the Orioles got the win. It was his 422nd career save to tie Billy Wagner for seventh place on the all-time list. 

The Orioles ended the Royals' nine-game home win streak.

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Kimbrel soaking in 422nd save and drying souvenir baseball that came with it

Craig Kimbrel James McCann

KANSAS CITY – The overflow locker next to Craig Kimbrel held the usual items this morning – a suitcase, a couple of backpacks and some hoodies on hangers. Sitting on the top shelf, however, was a rarity. Maybe a first for the 15-year veteran.

A plastic container filled with uncooked rice.

This isn’t part of a special diet. The grains covered the baseball from last night’s 422nd career save that tied Kimbrel with Billy Wagner for seventh place on the all-time list.

Left fielder Colton Cowser caught a fly ball to seal a 9-7 win and chucked it over his shoulder and into the iconic fountain at Kauffman Stadium. Or, “yeeted it,” as he sheepishly told the media afterward.

Cowser figured out his mistake almost immediately and stadium workers retrieved the soaked baseball. There were two at the bottom. The fresher one was identified as belonging to Kimbrel.

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Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas City

Orioles and Royals lineups in series finale in Kansas  City

KANSAS CITY – The Orioles return to their left-handed lineup this afternoon as they try to win the series against the Royals.

Cedric Mullins returns to center field, Colton Cowser to left and Jackson Holliday to second base.

Cowser is batting .400 against fastballs this season after hitting .087 in 2023.

Jordan Westburg is batting .438 (14-for-32) with eight RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak. He’s posted a .421 average over his last 10 games, compared to .194 in his first nine.

Anthony Santander was the first Orioles player last night with three doubles since Austin Hays on April 28, 2022 in the Bronx. He’s in right field again today.

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A look at some batters off to strong starts at Double-A Bowie (O's win wild one)

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Earlier this week when I was in Bowie, Md., to cover Kyle Bradish's first injury rehab start, I spent some time with Double-A Bowie manager Roberto Mercado to discuss his team's solid start to the new season.

It has been some weekend in Bowie with the Baysox winning Friday 5-4 over Altoona on a walk-off on John Rhodes' single in the 10th. Last night, Jud Fabian's grand slam in the last of the ninth was a walk-off winner 6-2. It was Fabian's second homer of the season and he's now batting .310 with a .944 OPS.

Bowie drew 7,159 fans on Friday and 7,988 on Saturday to Prince George's Stadium. 

Between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Baysox's increase in average home attendance was among the best in all of the minors and they are off to a good start at the turnstile this year.

Bowie is now 8-6 and through Friday's games had a plus-12 run differential ranked third-best in the 12-team league thus far. Bowie led the league with 77 runs scored and also with an .817 OPS. Bowie's team ERA of 4.34 was eighth-best in the Eastern League.

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Holliday maintains confidence while fighting through early slump

Jackson Holliday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountcastle black

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

This was one batter into his start.

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

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

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

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O's game blog: Right-hander Corbin Burnes faces Kansas City

burnes pitching gray

After a rough Friday for O’s pitching – especially the bullpen – the Orioles send ace right-hander Corbin Burnes (2-0, 2.28 ERA) to the mound tonight to try and restore order and even the series in Kansas City.

When right-hander Dean Kremer walked back-to-back batters in the last of the sixth with one out, he was allowed to get one more out and then pulled for lefty Keegan Akin with the O’s down 1-0 in the series opener.

A couple of groundballs found holes to plate three more runs and Kansas City was on its way to a five-run sixth and three-run seventh to post a 9-4 win over the Orioles.

The Royals (13-7) lost their first two home games of this season and have now won nine in a row at Kauffman Stadium. They have outscored their opponents 70-26 on the year at home and by 68-17 during the nine straight home wins.

Kansas City and Cleveland are tied for the MLB lead on the season with a plus-45 run differential.

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

wells pitching black

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

Exactly how brief is the question.

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

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

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

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Orioles break out right-handed lineup vs. Royals

hays and westburg black

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

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

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

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

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

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O's Cedric Mullins gets off to good start at the plate

mullins white

The Orioles series with the Twins this week at Camden Yards was a reminder of the 2021 season when Cedric Mullins produced the only 30-30 season (doubles and homers) in O’s history and finished ninth in the MVP voting.

That player may still be in there somewhere, whether he is flying across the outfield one night to make his Superman-like diving catch or hitting a walk-off homer two days later.

Mullins can make impactful plays on offense and defense and even last year, a year he produced just a league-average OPS of .721 and dealt with groin injuries, we saw examples of that.

Last Aug. 13 at Seattle, in an important series between two playoff contending teams, Mullins became the first player to both rob and hit a home run in the ninth inning or later of the same game over the last 10 seasons. And according to ESPN Stats & Info, that game marked his first career go-ahead homer in extra innings.

Also last year, during what was for him a down year, he hit for the cycle, had a five-hit game and hit two grand slams.

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Another look at how Suárez came to the Orioles

Suárez pitching white

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

Well, maybe just a little.

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

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

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

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O's game blog: The road trip begins at Kansas City

kremer @CLE

The Orioles begin a two-city road trip to Kansas City and Anaheim, Calif., tonight with three games versus the Royals and then three with the Angels starting Monday night.

The Orioles (12-6) are 4-2 on the road. They begin today ½-game behind the New York Yankees for the American League East lead. New York (13-6) will host Tampa Bay (11-9) this weekend.

Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Minnesota, via a Cedric Mullins’ two-run, walk-off homer, gave the Orioles a series sweep. And a four-game win streak in which they have outscored the opposition 28-13. The Orioles are 7-2 their past nine games.

In the season’s second series, the Orioles took two of three from the Royals at Oriole Park. They took the first and third games of that series with three-run comebacks for walk-off wins. The first on Jordan Westburg’s two-run homer and the next on James McCann’s two-run single.

The Orioles scored 22 runs in the series with Minnesota and have scored 57 runs the last nine games.

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Bañuelos to Norfolk after clearing waivers, Reds claim Soto

Orioles-Logo

The Orioles have made the following roster moves:

  • C David Bañuelos has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Additionally, INF Livan Soto has been claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds.

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A look at the O's early-season power surge

Mullins and Santander celebrate hr

The Orioles are mashing some home runs to start the 2024 season. Through Wednesday’s games, they ranked as the most homer-happy team in all of Major League Baseball.

They led the majors in homers and homers per game and actually, and yes, it’s very early, they are a record pace for Orioles homers.

The most any O’s team ever hit was the 1996 Birds with 257. At their current pace, if maintained, this team would hit 270.

And sure, maybe that pace won’t be maintained. But last year the O’s scored a lot of runs thanks in large measure to outstanding runners in scoring position hitting stats. 

By the way, this O’s group is faring well there too, third in the AL as of yesterday with a team average of .293 with RISP.

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Over six years later, Albert Suarez was back in the bigs, pitching the Orioles to a win

O's celebrate win

It has been an eventful home season for the Orioles. They began it by scoring 11 and 13 runs their first two games this year at the Yard. They had two walk-off wins at Camden Yards heading into yesterday’s game.

Now Oriole Park is home of the mound where 34-year-old right-hander Albert Suárez returned to the big leagues. He was last in the majors in 2017 with San Francisco and yesterday made his first big league appearance in 2,395 days.

Yes, it had been a minute, if over six years is that.

This game was special for Suárez, who spent time the last five seasons pitching in Japan and Korea. The Orioles signed him last Oct. 12 and he would get another shot to once again make a big league roster.

He had some impressive moments for the club in spring training and showed velocity he didn’t show with the Giants in 2016, when his fastball averaged 92.0 mph and a year later when it was at 93.5.

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This, that and the other

Ryan O'Hearn

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

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

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

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

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

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O's game blog: Looking for a series sweep against Minnesota

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With their 11-3 win over the Minnesota Twins last night coupled with Toronto’s 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees, the Orioles (11-6) moved to within ½ game of first place in the American League East.

After winning their first game of the year on March 28, the Orioles were tied for first place. They have not been in the AL East top spot since, but would be later today with a win and a New York loss at Toronto in a game beginning at 3:07 p.m.

The Orioles have one series sweep this year, when they won three in a row at Boston, and could match that today against the Twins. This would be Baltimore's first sweep of Minnesota since a three-game set at Target Field from July 7-9, 2023. The Orioles haven't swept the Twins at Oriole Park since a three-game set from April 4-7, 2016.

The Orioles had a season-high 15 hits last night and have had 11 hits or more in four consecutive games. In those games the team batting average is .342 with an OPS of 1.003 and Baltimore has scored 29 runs.

In the last eight games, the Orioles have scored 53 runs on 87 hits. The Orioles have hit 11 doubles, a triple and 18 homers in that span with a team batting average of .297 and .880 OPS. The O’s, who are 6-2 in this stretch, are scoring 6.6 runs per game during the run.

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