Tough loss on Saturday sets up rubber match game today for the Orioles

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If the Orioles want to win their third straight series to begin the new season, they'll have to win this afternoon in Pittsburgh after a very tough loss there on Saturday.

The clubs have split the first two games and the Orioles lost 5-4 in 11 innings on Saturday. The Orioles were not doing much with Pirates' lefty Bailey Falter, who threw six scoreless on one hit but was pulled after throwing 78 pitches. The O's immediately got it going against the Pirates bullpen and when Jordan Westburg hustled home safely on a grounder to first base, the O's had tied it 3-3 in the ninth.

They went ahead 4-3 in the tenth on Adley Rutschman's sac fly. But Mike Baumann struggled to throw strikes as Pittsburgh tied it and the game went to the 11th. Oneil Cruz singled in the winning run to even up the series for the Bucs.

A tough, tough loss for the Orioles who got five innings with no earned runs allowed from their bullpen. 

But while the bullpen faltered late, the Baltimore offense produced just four hits in 37 at-bats and the hitters went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

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Cano's hot start, Santander's milestone game, Norfolk's latest offensive outburst

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PITTSBURGH – After pitching four times in a span of six games, Orioles reliever Yennier Cano stayed in the visiting bullpen yesterday until Oneil Cruz's walk-off single in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Pirates.

Cano is in All-Star form again in the early stages of the 2024 season. He’s tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his usual high-leverage role.

“Very impressed,” said Tim Cossins, who works as the Orioles field coordinator and catching instructor but is in the bullpen for games. “It’s kind of a continuation of what we saw last year. And the way he prepares and the way he goes day to day, it’s not surprising. He’s just one of those guys that’s super routine-oriented and super locked in.”

The finest work might have come in Cano’s most difficult outing.

The Royals put runners on second and third base with no outs Monday in the eighth inning of a tie game. What followed was a groundout with the infield in, an intentional walk, a popup and a called third strike on Nick Loftin.

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O's game blog: A chance for a series win at Pittsburgh

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The Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates play the second game of their three-game series this afternoon after the Orioles won 5-2 on Friday to begin the weekend.

The Orioles (5-2) won their first road game of the year and now are 3-0 in series-opening games.

As of this morning, they are in third place in the American League East, 1/2-game behind both New York and Boston at 6-2.

If the Orioles win one of the next two games, they will have three series wins to start the season. The last two O’s teams to do that were in 2009 and 2016.

Orioles pitchers are doing a solid job thus far. Their team ERA of 3.14 ranks seventh-best in the AL and eighth overall in the majors. Baltimore’s bullpen ERA is 2.38, which ranks sixth-best in the AL and seventh overall in the big leagues. Over the last five games, the O’s bullpen has allowed two earned runs over 16 2/3 innings.

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Hays returns to Orioles lineup today vs. Pirates

Hays returns to Orioles lineup today vs. Pirates

PITTSBURGH – Austin Hays is in today’s Orioles lineup at PNC Park, playing left field and batting sixth.

Hays began yesterday’s game on the bench because of an illness but batted twice, striking out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and grounding out in the eighth. He’s 2-for-20.

James McCann is catching and Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter. Jordan Westburg is playing third base, moving Ramón Urías to the bench.

Tyler Wells allowed three earned runs and four total in six innings against the Angels in his first start. He walked none and struck out seven.

Wells faced the Pirates on May 13, 2023 in Baltimore and tossed seven scoreless innings with one hit allowed and eight strikeouts.

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Orioles brave elements and beat Pirates 5-2 (updated)

Grayson Rodriguez

PITTSBURGH – Baseball in Baltimore can bring five-hour rain delays. In Pittsburgh, they bundle up and tailgate in parking lots while it snows and hails, looking like they’re waiting for the opening kickoff.

Being the Pirates’ home Opening Day was a minor detail. Fans weren’t punting the celebration.

The weather gods added rain and sunshine to the spastic mix. Grayson Rodriguez brought his own repertoire and laser focus.

A heavy jacket and hood also were recommended.

Rodriguez held the Pirates to two runs over 6 1/3 innings, Ryan O’Hearn, Gunnar Henderson and Cedric Mullins hit solo homers, and the Orioles won 5-2 before an announced sellout crowd of 38,400 at PNC Park.

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O's game blog: O's play Pirates in the season's first road game

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The Orioles begin a weekend series in Pittsburgh this afternoon. The Pirates (6-1) are playing their home opener at PNC Park.

The Orioles have gone 2-1 in each series at home against the Angels and Royals. They scored 25 runs in the first three games versus the Angels. They scored just 11 runs in the series with K.C, but produced walk-off wins in games one and three of that series.

The Orioles (4-2) have scored 34 runs in their four wins and just two runs over the two losses. After scoring 24 runs in the first two games of the year, they have scored just 12 runs on 21 hits in the last four games. In that span, they are 6-for-24 batting with runners in scoring position.

Through six games, their team batting line is .232/.298/.397/.695 as the Orioles rank tied for 17th in the major leagues in team batting average, tied for 21st in on-base percentage, and 16th each in slugging and OPS.

Their team ERA is 3.33, which is 12th-best in the majors. Baltimore pitching has allowed three, four, four, four, four and three runs. The O’s bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in 14 innings the past four games.

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Orioles pregame notes on Hays, Castillo trade, weather, Double-A moves and more

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PITTSBURGH – Austin Hays wasn’t in the visiting clubhouse today during media access, and Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the outfielder is “a little under the weather."

“Maybe the weather will warm him up,” Hyde joked, as snow flurries swirled around PNC Park.

“He’s just getting a little extra rest right now but he’ll be here at game time.”

Hays was 4-for-29 (.138) in spring training, when he came down with a stomach virus, and had two hits in 18 at-bats on the homestand. He’s struck out six times.

“He’s pressing a little bit,” Hyde said. “Had that one big hit (Saturday). When Haysie swings at strikes, good things happen. Right now it’s more approach-driven than anything else.”

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Baltimore Orioles & Baltimore Ravens combine to donate $10 million to the Baltimore Community Foundation's Key Bridge Emergency Fund

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Ravens and Orioles each donate $5 million to support the relief efforts

The Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens have together donated $10 million to the Baltimore Community Foundation’s Key Bridge Emergency Fund. Each organization contributed $5 million, respectively.

The Key Bridge Emergency Fund was established to provide ongoing support to the recovery and resilience efforts for families, port workers, first responders, small businesses and communities affected by the March 26 Key Bridge tragedy. This fund supports regional efforts to heal, respond and memorialize, in coordination with adjacent efforts with the Foundation’s strategic partners.

“The resiliency of our city has once again been sorely tested,” said Orioles owner DAVID M. RUBENSTEIN. “Under the leadership of Governor Wes Moore, and in collaboration with the Ravens, the Orioles offer this contribution to support those who keep our city, our state, and our country in business.”

“Our heartfelt condolences are with the victims of this tragedy and their families,” Ravens owner STEVE BISCIOTTI stated. “We are thankful to our first responders for their bravery and tireless work. The Ravens are honored to support the Francis Scott Key Bridge recovery efforts and affected Maryland families and businesses. We are confident that Baltimore and Maryland will keep displaying tremendous spirit and strength during this time of great need.”

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Orioles trade Diego Castillo to Twins

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The Orioles have traded minor league INF/OF Diego Castillo to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for cash considerations.

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Orioles and Pirates lineups in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH – Colton Cowser is in left field for today’s series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Austin Hays is on the bench.

Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter. Jordan Westburg is playing second base, and Ramón Urías is the third baseman and looking for his first hit.

Grayson Rodriguez held the Angels to one run in six innings and struck out nine batters in his first start.

The Orioles have allowed four runs or fewer in their first six games, tied for their second-longest streak to begin a season. They did it in seven in 2002.

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Lottery’s Contestant of the Game promotion returns with exciting new feature

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Fan-favorite second-chance contest adds new grand slam twist

With the 2024 season underway, Orioles fans are enjoying the team’s quest for a second consecutive American League East division title. With new ownership, the returning nucleus of last year’s 101-win team and plenty of up-and-coming talent on the horizon, the future looks bright and orange-tinted. Understandably, fan excitement is at a fever-pitch with the potential that the 2024 season presents for the Birds.

Some of the fans with great expectations for the Orioles in 2024 are also participating in this year’s Home Run Riches Contestant of the Game promotion from the Maryland Lottery. The FAST PLAY Home Run Riches Bases Loaded game and second chance promotion are back with an exciting new twist. 

This year, the Lottery’s baseball-themed second chance promotion will include a chance for fans to win big money when the Orioles hit home runs – especially when Birds betters connect for grand slams. This season’s 162 Contestants of the Game will be selected in monthly drawings through August. Each winner receives $500 for being selected and will be designated as the Contestant of the Game for an upcoming Orioles matchup. They’ll also win an additional $500 for each home run or $5,000 for each grand slam hit by the Orioles during their designated game. 

The potential for winning big both on the field and in the Lottery’s promotion is high: In 2023 the Orioles sent a batter to the plate with the bases loaded 109 times and hit six grand slams. Additionally, the Orioles slugged a total of 183 home runs last season leading to $222,000 in prizes for the Contestants of the Game. 

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Tides manager Buck Britton on Triple-A Norfolk's amazing start

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We were probably impressed when the Orioles’ Triple-A Norfolk farm team scored 39 runs in their first four games. Their top prospects were spraying line drives in the gaps and hitting baseballs over outfield walls.

As it turns out, the players on the top farm club for baseball’s No. 1 ranked farm system were just warming up.

Wednesday night, Norfolk scored 17 runs from the sixth through the eighth innings at Charlotte and set several team records in a 26-11 victory.

That was a franchise single-game record for runs, breaking the mark of 23 set April 13, 1982 when the Tides were a Mets affiliate. They would not become an O’s farm club until 2007. The Tides set team records with eight homers and 29 hits and Heston Kjerstad’s 10 RBIs is a team mark, two better than any Tide ever. The nine doubles tied a club mark.

So much for some of the top prospects there being too down after not making the Orioles' Opening Day roster.

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A Gold Glove finalist last season, Ryan Mountcastle is again playing solid D (O's another walk-off win)

Ryan Mountcastle

The Orioles had two Gold Glove finalists, but no winners, last season and some fans may not remember that while Austin Hays was a finalist for left fielders, Baltimore’s other finalist was Ryan Mountcastle at first base.

As manager Brandon Hyde said, “It's great to see him find a home defensively,” and Mountcastle has put in the time and work to get better there. He began his pro career as a shortstop, was moved to third base and even tried the outfield.

But based on some of the strong plays he’s made already this year – the most recent was his diving stop to his left in the ninth Tuesday night – Mountcastle has indeed found his defensive home.

Just how has he improved over there at first?

“Just like in first-step quickness,” he said Wednesday morning in the Baltimore clubhouse. “Being ready and engaged every pitch. Felt like I put a lot of work in, especially during the offseason and even during the season last year, me and Tony (Mansolino, third base and infield coach). Feeling comfortable over there.

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Because You Asked - The Rise of Red

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The Orioles are leaving the cold and rain of Baltimore and flying into the cold of Pittsburgh. But no rain.

Daytime highs for the three games are 43, 48 and a balmy 56 degrees. But a new concession item at PNC Park is “The Renegade,” a foot-long hot dog draped in potato pierogis, pot roast, pickles and onions.

Let me start by saying cheddar potato pierogis are the best. I’d eat a box of 12 for dinner back in the day – boiled and slathered in melted butter. Better than pan-fried crispy. I want to pasta texture.

I’ll also say that the pickles are unnecessary and unwanted on this item. Save ‘em for a burger or barbeque sandwich.

And finally, this is a long-winded way of setting up the mailbag.

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Late rally compensates for early silence in Orioles' 4-3 walk-off win (updated)

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A game that starts five hours late because of rain, with Major League Baseball determined to squeeze it into a window that could slam shut again, is bound to contain some abnormalities. It was born that way.

Corbin Burnes allows one hit over six innings on Opening Day and surrenders three tonight in the top of the first. An out is recorded at the plate in a 1-2-5-1-2-3 rundown, giving Burnes a chance to touch the ball twice and Royals manager Matt Quatrano to pop out of the dugout and argue.

Jorge Mateo can’t make a diving catch on Bobby Witt Jr.’s liner into right-center that goes down as a one-out double, Burnes snares Vinnie Pasquantino’s 98.5 mph comebacker to start the bizarre putout, Pasquantino keeps running until he reaches third base and Burnes gives up a run-scoring single to Salvador Pérez on a 63.1 mph blooper to left.

Weird already had taken the controls before MJ Melendez doubled, with Mateo needing a second try at a clean pickup, and Hunter Renfroe froze on a cutter for the final out. Burnes threw 27 pitches, with several hundred fans watching from the lower bowl.

A young boy in front of the press box wore a Mateo jersey and kept yelling for Witt to look at him, hollering, “I know you can hear me!” Everyone could be heard.

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O's game blog: The series finale between the Orioles and Kansas City

O's game blog: The series finale between the Orioles and Kansas City

If they can get this game in through the raindrops today in Baltimore, the Orioles and Royals are set to play the third and deciding game of this three-game series. It also ends the O's first homestand of the 2024 season.

The Orioles produced a walk-off win on Monday night, 6-4, on Jordan Westburg's two-run homer in the ninth. They were held to three hits last night in a 3-1 loss. The O's went 12-8 in rubber match games in 2023.

The Orioles have scored 11, 13 and six runs in their three wins on 33 hits with eight doubles, a triple and six homers, and have gone 11-for-27 with runners in scoring position. In the two losses they scored one and one run, going 6-for-60 as a team and 2-for-9 with RISP. 

Right-hander Corbin Burnes makes his second start for the club. On Opening Day he gave up a two-out, solo homer to the Angels' Mike Trout and then retired the last 16 batters he faced. The Angels went just 1-for-19 against him with 11 strikeouts and no walks. 

His 11 strikeouts tied Mike Mussina from 1998 for the second-most by an O's pitcher on Opening Day. Lefty Dave McNally set that mark with 13 strikeouts at Cleveland on April 7, 1970.

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An eager student: Tyler Wells excited to learn from new ace Corbin Burnes

Tyler Wells

This year when Corbin Burnes pitches for the Orioles a lot of eyes will be on their new ace pitcher. And some of them will be coming from his new rotation mates.

On Opening Day, Burnes walked none and fanned 11 over six very good innings where he gave up a Mike Trout homer in the first and then retired the next 16 batters he faced.

If they can get it in today through the raindrops, Burnes is scheduled to make his second O's start in the Orioles-Kansas City series finale.

The 2021 National League Cy Young winner has a lot to offer the Orioles and it’s more than just his own stat line and results.

Right-hander Tyler Wells said for the other young rotation pitchers, it’s a chance to watch and learn.

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Orioles can't find offense in 4-1 loss (updated)

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The grounds crew rolled up the tarp and prepped the Camden Yards field, with instructions that tonight’s game would begin at the appointed time. A light rain fell. The Orioles tried not to do the same.

They were down by three runs again tonight but didn’t have a dramatic rally in them. The performance fit the dreary setting.

Cole Irvin allowed four runs in five innings, the shortest start from the rotation in its first complete turn, and the offense managed only three hits in a 4-1 loss to the Royals before an announced and extremely dedicated crowd of 9,404.

The homestand concludes this afternoon if the weather allows it. Storms are forecast throughout the day. Two tarps might not be sufficient.

The three hits tonight definitely were not.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win against Kansas City

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With a walk-off win in the series opener Monday, the Orioles and Royals will try to get this game in tonight. An O's win would give them a series win heading into the scheduled third game of this series on Wednesday afternoon.

Jordan Westburg's two-run homer in the last of the ninth last night was his first career walk-off homer as the Orioles won 6-4.

They are 3-1 thus far and are 1 1/2 games back of the American League East-leading Yankees at 5-0. The Red Sox are 3-2 while the Rays and Blue Jays are 2-3 in the division.

That was the first walk-off win for the Orioles since Sept. 17, 2023 versus the Rays when Cedric Mullins hit a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning. It also marked the first walk-off home run by the O's since July 28, 2023 against the Yankees when Anthony Santander connected on a solo shot in the ninth inning.

Last night's win marked Baltimore's second comeback victory of the season, joining Opening Day. Since the start of 2022, the O's 86 comeback wins lead the AL and rank second in the majors behind the Dodgers (88). The Birds totaled 48 comeback wins last year, tied with the Reds for the most in the majors.

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Basallo progresses in throwing program and other notes from Bowie's media day

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BOWIE, Md. – Catcher Samuel Basallo, ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the sport by Baseball America and No. 17 via MLB Pipeline, will begin the season in the designated hitter role for Double-A Bowie, as expected. But he should be playing in the field within the first 10 or so games of the year.

Basallo was only a DH with the Orioles in big league camp after suffering a stress fracture in his right elbow over the winter. He is not ready to catch in games yet. 

But during Bowie’s media day today at Prince George’s Stadium, he said his throwing program and progression to get back in games playing defense has gone just fine. 

“I’m progressing very well. There have not been any setbacks. My arm is getting stronger and I feel good,” he said with interpreting help from Bowie manager Roberto Mercado.

He said the program to build arm strength has gone well.

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