Leftovers for breakfast

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Mike Baumann was a surprise starter last night. No one expected him to be the next link in the chain.

The past three starters worked a minimum of 8 2/3 innings, with Dean Kremer tossing his first career complete-game shutout Friday night. Twenty-seven years passed since the Orioles put together a streak of that length. Forty years since they did it in four consecutive games.

Baumann was making his second career start only because Tyler Wells went on the injured list Friday with right shoulder inflammation. Otherwise, Baumann would have sat in the bullpen and waited for his 15th appearance.

The Orioles used him to start Game 1 of a Sept. 5 doubleheader because Jordan Lyles had the stomach flu. Baumann lasted a career-high five innings. He went six innings with Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 31, a mark that manager Brandon Hyde would have celebrated last night with a fresh set of relievers.

“There’s going to have to be a lot of first-pitch swinging,” he quipped.

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Three more reflections as Orioles play out their last 12 games

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The Orioles are down to a dozen games. Two more against the Astros at home, four in Boston, three in New York, and three against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.

Distance to the Jays might need to be reduced if they’re going to matter beyond the final record and pride.

The math says that the Orioles remain in contention for the last wild card, moving within three games of Seattle. They need two more wins to guarantee the first non-losing season since 2016.

Reflections of 2022 will come later, except for those of us who can’t wait.

I’ve already noted how Matt Harvey never had his contract selected (he’s on the Triple-A injured list now with a sore knee), Gunnar Henderson earned a promotion despite his age, Yusniel Diaz stayed only for a cup of coffee, Rougned Odor lasted into September, we never saw Robert Neustrom, and DJ Stewart didn’t make it back to the Orioles after three games to begin the season.

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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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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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Hays proud that pain didn't lead to prolonged absences

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Austin Hays won’t remember the 2022 season from a personal standpoint as one of his healthiest as a professional. He played through the pain. In his hand, wrist and oblique. But what’s important here is that he played.

Hays appeared in his 132nd game Wednesday night, the most in his major league career. An achievement that didn’t draw much attention but meant so much to the outfielder.

Thirteen remain on the schedule. Hays can see the finish line and feel proud that he didn’t stumble again and land on the injured list.

“To get to that point with a couple weeks left in the season, that means a lot to me,” he said. “I should end the year with over 140 games, and not going on the IL, that was a huge focus for me.”

“I think proving that you’re durable is a huge thing for a player,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Knowing that a guy’s going to be available every day, that’s a lost skill, honestly. “All of our guys, really, this year have done a great job of staying in shape and staying ready.

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Because You Asked - Welcome to the Jungle

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The Orioles’ 2022 schedule is much lighter with only 14 games remaining. My mailbag, however, is gaining weight.

Can’t keep blaming the pandemic. Mix in a salad.

I could set up a buffet with all the questions sent to me. Maybe I should rename it “Around the Horn & Horn”.

I’ll table that idea for now.

Here’s the latest sequel to the original mailbag that launched during the Eisenhower administration. Or in 2008 after I joined MASN. The years run together.

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Orioles take another tumble against the Tigers (updated)

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There really isn’t any momentum in baseball.

Rallying to win Sunday in Toronto didn’t thrust the Orioles past a difficult stretch this month. It didn’t ignite the offense. The euphoria never made it through customs.

The last-place Tigers won again tonight, 3-2, at Camden Yards, and the Orioles are left with trying to avoid being swept again by a team that sits at the bottom of its division.

The Orioles are 76-71 overall and 8-10 this month. They’ve lost 10 of their last 15 games.

Gunnar Henderson, batting leadoff for the first time, hit a two-run homer off Joe Jiménez with two outs in the seventh to break up the Tigers’ shutout bid. The 409-foot shot onto the flag court in right field was Henderson’s third homer in the majors and first in Baltimore.

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Hyde on Henderson, Wells, finishing strong and more

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Gunnar Henderson’s move to the top of the order tonight makes him the fifth-youngest Orioles leadoff hitter in club history, as well as the youngest since Manny Machado on Sept. 22, 2013.

Henderson, at 21 years and 83 days, is the youngest player to bat leadoff in the majors since the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr on Aug. 13, 2019.

Manager Brandon Hyde is trying to find a spark for the offense against Tigers left-hander Joey Wentz.

“We’ve had a tough time against left-handed pitching, especially of late, and just like the swings that he’s been taking,” Hyde said. “Giving it a try. Like to see him be at the top of the order and get as many at-bats as possible.”

The Orioles are 27-19 against left-handed starters this season, but Tyler Alexander no-hit them for six innings last night. Rich Hill started on Sept. 11 when the Red Sox shut out the Orioles 1-0.

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Henderson elevated to leadoff spot in Orioles lineup

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The Orioles have lost all four games against the Tigers this season, including last night’s 11-0 rout that left them five behind the Mariners for the last wild card. The White Sox are a half-game behind them.

Tonight’s game feels “must win.”

They all do at this point.

Manager Brandon Hyde has performed a major shakeup of his lineup, moving Gunnar Henderson to the leadoff spot for the first time. Henderson is starting again at third base.

Adley Rutschman is lowered to the cleanup spot for the sixth time. He’s batted second in 47 games, a spot occupied tonight by Ryan Mountcastle.

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Orioles kept hitless through six innings in 11-0 loss (updated)

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Orioles manager Brandon Hyde didn’t fear an emotional regression from his team after Sunday’s comeback win and the Tigers arriving with their anemic offense and one of the worst records in baseball. He wasn’t worried about the clubhouse losing its edge. Not with so much at stake.

Hyde remembered the three-game sweep in Detroit back in May, and the past struggles against the Tigers under his watch.

“You can’t let your guard down,” he said this afternoon.

Tyler Alexander wouldn’t let the Orioles get a hit until the seventh inning. Something that Hyde never saw coming.

Two walks were the only blemishes on Alexander’s line before Ryan Mountcastle lined a single into center field leading off the seventh in the Tigers’ 11-0 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

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Mountcastle on elbow: "It's just good enough to play"

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Ryan Mountcastle will tonight wear a protective guard on his left elbow for the first time after being hit by a José Berríos pitch during Saturday’s game in Toronto. He isn’t back to full health, and he’d have been doubtful for the series opener against the Tigers if the season hadn’t moved past May.

“We’re not in May,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde.

All hands are on deck. All elbows, too.

Mountcastle is serving as the designated hitter instead of starting at first base, which is a concession to the injury.

“The elbow’s still sore, but he wants to play,” Hyde said. “Left-hander (Tyler Alexander) on the mound, he feels like he can hit, feels good enough to be out there.”

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Orioles lineup vs. Tigers

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Ryan Mountcastle returns to the Orioles lineup as the designated hitter for tonight’s series opener against the Tigers at Camden Yards. He missed yesterday’s game in Toronto with a bruised left triceps.

Jesús Aguilar is the first baseman against Tigers left-hander Tyler Alexander.

Cedric Mullins stays in the lineup but moves down to eighth. Austin Hays is leading off.

Gunnar Henderson is batting .328/.388/.557 with six doubles, one triple, two home runs, 12 RBIs and six walks in 17 games and 67 plate appearances. He’s the third baseman tonight.

Adley Rutschman had his 24th multi-hit game of the season yesterday. He’s registered a .367 on-base percentage, with 31 doubles and 56 walks, in 97 games.

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Orioles didn't win series in Toronto but again proved their competitive point

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We could harp on the two games lost over the weekend in Toronto, a bad outcome for a team scrambling to earn the last wild card. The Orioles needed to win the series, and a sweep would have been huge. Each defeat feels like a dagger. And Ryan Mountcastle was unavailable yesterday after being hit Saturday above the left elbow.

Or …

Yesterday’s comeback again says so much about the 2022 Orioles, even if they don’t make the playoffs. And so much about the future of this team. What may lie ahead next summer.

Down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-1. The Blue Jays starting Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah, who had 14 wins, a 2.43 ERA and a 0.996 WHIP. Closer Jordan Romano, with a 1.91 ERA and 34 saves, on the mound in the ninth. Everything working against them. But I’d love to know the spin rate each time the Orioles turn the tables this season.

The 15th triple play in club history, executed in the third inning after the Orioles fell behind 2-1.

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Mountcastle out of Orioles lineup for series finale in Toronto

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The Orioles are reduced today to trying to avoid a sweep in their three-game series in Toronto. Not how they wanted it to play out.

The Blue Jays have won the first two games by the same 6-3 score, and they lead the Orioles by seven games in the wild card race. The Orioles trail Seattle by five for the final spot.

Eight losses in the last 12 games have put the Orioles in a precarious position.

Ryan Mountcastle is out of the lineup after being hit yesterday above the left elbow by a José Berríos pitch. Jesús Aguilar is playing first base.

Gunnar Henderson is the third baseman and cleanup hitter today. Henderson is 20-for-58 (.345) with a .973 OPS, six doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBIs in 16 games.

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Orioles did fine job of limiting use of injured list in 2022

Austin Hays Ryan Mountcastle fives white

The transaction seemed minor compared to the start of a critical series in Toronto. Alexander Wells hadn’t pitched for the Orioles since April 26 after straining the UCL in his left elbow. But his removal from the 60-day injured list was pending and he didn’t seem likely to get back on the 40-man roster.

The Orioles quietly put him on outright waivers – these things aren’t trumpeted – and he was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday after clearing.

Wells had returned to Norfolk on Aug. 19 after making rehab starts in the Florida Complex League and with Double-A Bowie. He didn’t pitch for three weeks before his Sept. 9 start with the Tides, and he worked 2 2/3 innings in relief on Tuesday.

Pitchers John Means and Chris Ellis remain on the 60-day injured list after undergoing their respective surgeries - Means on his left elbow, Ellis on his right shoulder. No one on the club is assigned to the 10-day or 15-day lists.

It seems so strange to say that the Orioles avoided injuries in 2022, considering how Means made two starts and underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery. The staff ace didn’t make it to May. He didn’t make it into the third week of April.

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Orioles and Blue Jays lineups

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The Orioles must rebound quickly from last night’s 6-3 loss in Toronto, which kept them 4 ½ games behind the Rays for the last wild card, but six behind the Blue Jays.

Gunnar Henderson, who hit a home run last night with two outs in the ninth inning, is starting at shortstop. Terrin Vavra is in left field, his first appearance in the lineup since Sept. 1.

Kyle Stowers is the designated hitter, and Anthony Santander is in right field.

Adley Rutschman is catching again. Rutschman hit his first home run last night from the right side of the plate. He was hitting .158 with a .513 OPS against lefties.

Rutschman and Henderson are the youngest pair of Orioles teammates to homer in the same game since Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop on May 8, 2016 versus Oakland.

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Three more early reflections on Orioles 2022 season

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The 2022 season is winding down, except that the Orioles want to get it cranked up again after the last game on Oct. 5.

Playoffs? Yes, we’re talking playoffs.

Reflection can come later, when bodies sink into recliners and every minute of time spent at ballparks and long flights is felt from head to toe.

But enough about the beat crew.

Here are three more early reflections, as I try to avoid the winter rush:

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Orioles and Blue Jays lineups

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Gunnar Henderson is the Orioles designated hitter tonight for the opener of an important three-game series in Toronto.

Henderson has reached base in 13 of his first 14 career games and has recorded a hit in 11 of 13 starts. He’s among five players in Orioles history with at least seven extra-base hits in his first 14 games, joining Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, Curt Blefary and Cedric Mullins.

Second baseman Rougned Odor has returned to the lineup after a two-game absence. Ramón Urías is the third baseman.

Anthony Santander is in right field, and Austin Hays is in left and batting eighth.

The bullpen has tossed 11 consecutive scoreless innings.

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