Because You Asked - Back to Perfection

Gunnar Henderson

My mailbag is like Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” or Alexander Godunov in “Die Hard.” You think it’s finished and suddenly it bolts upright in a tub filled with water or somehow removes a heavy iron chain from around its neck after an apparent strangulation.

If it were the Wicked Witch of the East, it would have wiggled out from underneath Dorothy’s house. Could have saved her a lot of trouble.

I tried to empty it six days ago, but here we are again.

Also indestructible are my rules against editing. I make my style clear without needing length to explain it.

And finally, an important reminder that my mailbag deserves its own bobblehead and yours is clogging the basepaths when kids run the bases.

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Henderson homers again and Coulombe closes out Orioles' 2-0 win (updated)

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Gunnar Henderson paused at home plate, as he’s done for many of his home runs. Not too long as to show up the pitcher. His timing is ideal with his swing and how he admires its work.

Henderson hit his third leadoff homer tonight and his 10th overall to tie Mike Trout for the major league lead. He barreled the seventh pitch from Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, a knuckle-curve, and lined it onto the flag court in right field at 112.3 mph off the bat.

Next came the familiar celebration after rounding the bases, the hop and the low, hard hand slap with Adley Rutschman, followed by the double-slap with Ryan O’Hearn near the dugout.

Only two other Orioles totaled 10 homers before May 1: Brady Anderson in 1996 and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in 1969.

"I'm not expecting him to go deep in the first inning," said manager Brandon Hyde. "I just want to see him hit as much as possible."

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Hyde on Kimbrel, optioning Tate, Hays injury and more

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The Orioles won’t have closer Craig Kimbrel available tonight, but at least he stays on the active roster.

Kimbrel left yesterday’s game with upper-back tightness after fumbling his second lead in three days. He wasn’t at his locker this afternoon during media clubhouse access, but manager Brandon Hyde said the veteran is “feeling better” and “kind of day-to-day right now.”

“He’s got some general soreness in his back,” Hyde said, “but he’s feeling better.”

Asked whether Kimbrel can avoid the injured list, Hyde said, “I hope so.”

Kimbrel didn’t allow an earned run in 10 consecutive appearances since his April 1 blown save against the Royals in his Orioles debut. He struck out 14 batters without a walk, but issued six free passes in his last four games.

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Pérez returns to Orioles active roster and Tate optioned (plus lineups)

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The Orioles reinstated left-hander Cionel Pérez from the 15-day injured list today and optioned reliever Dillon Tate to Triple-A Norfolk.

Pérez pitched twice with Norfolk on his injury rehab assignment. He faced two batters on March 30 at Camden Yards, strained his oblique muscle and walked off the field.

Tate made 11 appearances and allowed four earned runs (five total) in 12 2/3 innings. He replaced Craig Kimbrel yesterday in the ninth inning.

Kimbrel avoided the IL and is day-to-day with tightness in his upper back. Manager Brandon Hyde said Kimbrel is feeling better.

Kyle Bradish and John Means are here and ready to be reinstated later this week. Bradish could start Thursday afternoon.

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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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Kimbrel can't hold lead and leaves with injury in 7-6 loss (updated)

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Craig Kimbrel attracted two mound visits today from manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel. The first, after the veteran closer issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced in the top of the ninth inning and fell behind 1-0 to the next. The last, after Oakland's Kyle McCann hit a go-ahead two-run homer and Kimbrel fell behind again 1-0.

A second consecutive blown save from Kimbrel might not be the worst news.

Kimbrel walked off the mound with Ebel while Hyde signaled for Dillon Tate, and the Orioles lost 7-6 before an announced crowd of 40,887 at sun-splashed Camden Yards.

Another attempt failed to record his eighth save this season and the 425th of his career, which would tie the Red Sox’s Kenley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time list. Kimbrel's fastball was in the mid-90s, but something obviously wasn't right.

Hyde said afterward that Kimbrel had upper-back tightness." Kimbrel was in the trainers' room and unavailable to the media.

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Westburg moves to bench for today's series finale

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Albert Suárez makes his third start for the Orioles today as they close out their series against the Athletics, and tries to maintain his 0.00 ERA.

Suárez hasn’t allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings since the Orioles selected his contract. And he’s fighting to stay in the rotation with Kyle Bradish and John Means nearing their returns.

Means starts this afternoon at Triple-A Norfolk in the last appearance on his rehab assignment.

Suárez has made two career appearances against the Athletics, including one start, and allowed five runs with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. The relief appearance was Aug. 2, 2017, and the start was June 28, 2016.

Ryan O’Hearn is playing right field today, with Anthony Santander the designated hitter.

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Quick Q&A with former Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland

Quick Q&A with former Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland

T.J. McFarland allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 spring training innings with the Dodgers, couldn’t make the club and had the green light to find another team. He “peeked over the fence,” as he put it yesterday, and found a match.

McFarland, 34, is in town with the Athletics. He retired the only batter he faced Friday night in his 15th appearance, which led the American League and tied for most in the majors.

So much has changed since the Orioles selected McFarland in the 2012 Rule 5 draft. They made the playoffs the season before his arrival and twice more before his release in February 2017. He’s bounced around from the Diamondbacks organization to the Athletics, Nationals, Cardinals, Mets, Orioles, Dodgers and Athletics again after they purchased his contract in March.

The Orioles signed McFarland on July 22 and he posted a 1.80 ERA and 1.100 WHIP in 21 games with Triple-A Norfolk. He didn’t get promoted but was the winning pitcher in the Triple-A championship game.

The champagne was just as cold.

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

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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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Kyle Bradish set to join Orioles rotation

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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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Orioles trying to follow path of 1966 champions

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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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Orioles can't hold late lead and lose 3-2 in 10 innings (updated)

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Corbin Burnes finished the first inning, shook his head in frustration - at least partly with the plate umpire’s strike zone but more at himself - and walked to the dugout. Catcher Adley Rutschman met him along the first base line and could have been invisible.

On a night that the Orioles optioned top prospect Jackson Holliday, the veteran right-hander needed his own reset before returning to the mound. Shea Langeliers homered on a first-pitch cutter with two outs, the fifth run surrendered by Burnes in the first inning this season. But Burnes regained control of his start and did his usual ace-like work. His troubles seemed to disappear.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, so did their slim lead. And that was the most frustrating part.

Closer Craig Kimbrel, trying for a 425th career save that would have tied him with Kenley Jansen for 5th place on the all-time list, failed to retire any of the five batters faced in the ninth, the only out coming on a play at the plate. He left with the bases loaded and the score knotted and Keegan Akin prevented the go-ahead run from crossing, but the Athletics won in 10 innings 3-2 before an announced crowd of 22,965 at chilly Camden Yards.

Jacob Webb let the go-ahead run score after a 5-2-5-3 fielder's choice removed the automatic runner. Brent Rooker doubled to left field to give Oakland the lead.

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Elias on Holliday's "little hiccup" and how baseball's top prospect can benefit from it

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Jackson Holliday met with Orioles officials earlier today and was sent back to Triple-A Norfolk with a specific agenda. Areas of improvement were detailed. They just weren’t shared with everyone.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias met with the media today for about 20 minutes and explained the club’s decision to option Holliday, baseball’s No. 1 prospect who went 2-for-34 with one RBI, two walks, 18 strikeouts and five runs scored in 10 games.

The inability to get hot at the plate was a prime factor, of course. No complaints about his defense at second base, a relatively new position. The Orioles will be facing another wave of left-handed starters, which would have put Holliday on the bench. And his struggles were harder for a contending team to overlook than perhaps the 110-loss group from the rebuilding days.

There isn’t a firm timeline for Holliday’s return, but he apparently won’t be rushed back to the majors at the first whiff of success.

“I want to emphasize that this is a kid that’s doing extremely well and is at the very infancy of his major league career,” Elias said. “I don’t know if anyone else from his age group or draft class, high school hitters, are even out of A-ball levels yet. I want to stress that he’s doing very, very well and way ahead of the curve. And this was a decision out of camp that was very borderline at the time. Got a lot of opinions. We ended up sending him down and he hit really, really well in Triple-A for a couple of series, about two weeks, and so we decided to call him up and see how the translation to the major leagues would go on a short-term basis, and what we have seen here and had seen led me to the evaluation and the opinion that he would benefit from going back and adjusting there rather than doing it here in real time.

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Orioles lineup vs. Athletics in series opener at Camden Yards

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Ramón Urías is starting at third base tonight with Jordan Westburg at second following the Orioles’ decision to option Jackson Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk.

Urías is batting ninth and Westburg is slotted seventh. Colton Cowser is in left field and batting eighth.

Ryan O’Hearn is the designated hitter.

Corbin Burnes is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA and 0.920 WHIP in five starts. He’s never faced the Athletics.

Right-handed and left-handed hitters have registered a .208 average against Burnes in his career. Right-handers have a .612 OPS and left-handers have a .602 OPS.

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Orioles option Jackson Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk

Jackson Holliday

Jackson Holliday is headed back to the minors.

The Orioles announced today that they’ve optioned Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk and selected the contract of outfielder Ryan McKenna.

Holliday made his highly anticipated major league debut on April 10 in Boston, but he couldn’t get onto a roll offensively. He went 2-for-34 with one RBI, two walks and 18 strikeouts in 10 games.

The hitless streak reached 13 at-bats before his single in the seventh inning on April 14 against the Brewers at Camden Yards. Holliday’s other hit came Wednesday afternoon in Anaheim with another single.

Baseball’s top prospect is getting a reset with Norfolk. The Orioles can explain later the timing of the move and potentially how long it could last.

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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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McKenna happy for Kjerstad and hoping to rejoin him in majors

Ryan Mckenna

The coincidence didn’t hit Ryan McKenna right away. He was in a brightly lit airport in Norfolk but also in the dark.

McKenna had no clue that Austin Hays strained a calf muscle and the Orioles needed an outfielder to replace him. He missed the news, which perhaps would have taken his mind in a direction that raised hopes for a return to the majors.

Instead, McKenna stood next to Heston Kjerstad when one of baseball’s top prospects received a phone call from Tides manager Buck Britton. Get back on a plane and head to Anaheim. The Orioles are calling you up.

“To be honest, I didn’t see the injury to Hays, so I wasn’t like fully aware of what was going on,” McKenna said this week.

“I love Heston, man. He’s such a good player. He’s going to be a good major leaguer for a long time, so I was super happy for him. He’s probably one of the guys that I’m closest to in the minor leagues. It was cool. He’s a solid player. Offensively, he outshines this league pretty dramatically.”

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Mountcastle returns to Orioles lineup, plus notes (updated)

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With the Angels starting left-hander Tyler Anderson in today’s rubber match in Anaheim, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde posted a lineup that doesn’t included Heston Kjerstad or Jackson Holliday.

Kjerstad went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in last night’s 7-4 loss. Holliday was 1-for-4 with a run scored and two strikeouts.

Jorge Mateo is playing second base. Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter with James McCann behind the plate.

Rutschman was 3-for-5 last night and raised his average to .323 with a .785 OPS.

Ryan Mountcastle is starting at first base after delivering a pinch-hit single last night. He replaced Ryan O’Hearn, who had a two-run double and walked twice.

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Because You Asked - Staying Alive

Jordan Westburg

My mailbag didn’t make it to Anaheim. No direct flights. Refused to fly into LAX.

What am I supposed to do?

I emptied it at home. Let’s get to it, the latest sequel to the beloved 2008 original.

Same rules apply, which is very few. Closer to none. I like editing questions about as much as I like the middle seat on a Southwest flight. Your questions are crystal clear. I don’t need to enhance the clarity. Your style is fine, except for those skinny slacks that don’t go past the top of your ankles.

Also, my mailbag sticks your mailbag with the bar tab, and yours only had water.

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Kjerstad in right field tonight in Orioles' homegrown-heavy lineup

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Heston Kjerstad will play his first major league game tonight since Oct. 1, starting in right field as the Orioles attempt to claim another series.

Kjerstad is batting eighth, nestled between third baseman Jordan Westburg and second baseman Jackson Holliday in a lineup featuring seven players that the Orioles drafted. An eighth, Grayson Rodriguez, is on the mound against the Angels.

A ninth, cleanup hitter Anthony Santander, was selected in the 2016 Rule 5 draft. Santander is the designated hitter tonight.

Ryan O’Hearn is playing first base with Ryan Mountcastle on the bench. Mountcastle didn’t play last night due to a sore left knee.

Colton Cowser remains in left field and has homered in back-to-back games.

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