Orioles pregame notes on Mountcastle, Irvin, leadoff hitters and more

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The Orioles’ lineup tonight was influenced by Ryan Mountcaste’s health rather than his slump.

Mountcastle is under the weather, according to manager Brandon Hyde. Anthony Santander is playing first base and James McCann is serving as designated hitter.

“Just not feeling real good,” Hyde said. “Tried to play through it yesterday. I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He tried to battle through it and still feeling sick today, so we decided to give him a day today.”

Mountcastle went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts yesterday and is batting .227/.264/.421 in 60 games. He’s drawn 12 walks and struck out 64 times in 261 plate appearances.

A change in months hasn’t shortened the skid. Mountcastle is 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts after batting .222/.275/.435 in May. He has four hits in his last 30 at-bats.

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Irvin rejoins Orioles to make Saturday start (plus lineup)

Irvin rejoins Orioles to make Saturday start (plus lineup)

The Orioles will recall left-hander Cole Irvin to start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Royals at Camden Yards.

A corresponding move will be made to accommodate him on the roster.

Irvin hasn’t started for the Orioles since allowing six runs in four innings against the Athletics on April 13. He made a relief appearance on May 20 after they recalled him, allowing a hit in one-third of an inning in Toronto.

The Saturday game will mark Irvin’s fourth start since the Orioles acquired him from the Athletics. He’s 0-2 with a 10.38 ERA and 2.000 WHIP in 13 innings and averaging 5.5 walks.

The time in Norfolk led to a 6-1 record, 3.21 ERA and 1.048 WHIP in seven starts, with only four walks in 42 innings.

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Orioles recall Vespi and option Zimmermann

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The Orioles made another adjustment to their bullpen before tonight’s series opener against the Royals at Camden Yards.

Left-hander Nick Vespi was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk and lefty Bruce Zimmermann was optioned, giving manager Brandon Hyde an available arm in relief. Zimmermann threw 61 pitches in three innings Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Vespi is waiting to make his first appearance in 2023. He was recalled on May 12 and optioned two days later.

The numbers in Triple-A are worthy of a second promotion.

Vespi is 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.984 WHIP and seven saves in 19 games with Norfolk. He’s allowed four runs and 15 hits with five walks and 21 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.

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Orioles offense finally emerges from its funk

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MILWAUKEE – Ramón Urías rounded first base, smacked his hands together and pointed at the sky. On a routine single in the ninth inning of a 10-0 game that felt like much more.

Urías had two hits in 25 at-bats after his activation from the injured list. The hamstring was healed. His offensive stats were hurting.

Manager Brandon Hyde excluded Urías from Wednesday night’s lineup, offering him a reset and a chance to concentrate on his workday. Try to recapture the timing that made him one of the team’s most clutch hitters. Timing apparently lost during an almost three-week absence from the majors.

The ground ball that scooted into left field after he came off the bench could have been a 110-mph line drive and Urías was going to react in the same manner. Joy and relief intertwined at first base.

Urías started at third base yesterday and doubled to right field in his first at-bat, homered in the seventh inning to ruin Milwaukee’s shutout bid, and singled in the ninth. A triple shy of the cycle, and his first three-hit game since May 5.

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Henderson homer fuels Orioles comeback in 6-3 win (updated)

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MILWAUKEE – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde wanted better at-bats from his club today. Get in more favorable counts. Improve the pitch selection and decision making. Stop pressing.

Start scoring again.

Kyle Bradish settled down after an unusually rough first inning, and an offense that was dormant for most of the series bolted upright against the Brewers’ bullpen, with Gunnar Henderson’s two-run shot in the eighth keying a 6-3 victory before an announced crowd of 27,318 at American Family Field.

Anthony Santander doubled off Peter Strzelecki with one out in the eighth to score Adley Rutschman. Austin Hays took a disputed third strike, but Henderson carried a first-pitch fastball over the left field fence.

Henderson raised his arm as he approached second base. An entire team was lifted.

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Orioles lineup vs. Brewers in series finale (updated)

Orioles lineup vs. Brewers in series finale (updated)

MILWAUKEE – The Orioles try to avoid their first sweep this afternoon with Austin Hays in center field and batting cleanup, and Gunnar Henderson replacing Jorge Mateo at shortstop.

Ryan Mountcastle has returned to the lineup after being on the bench for two of the last five games. He’s 4-for-26 in his last seven and batting sixth today.

Anthony Santander is in right field and batting third. He’s 0-for-20 on the road trip.

James McCann is catching and Adley Rutschman is the designated hitter.

Ryan O’Hearn is starting in left field. Aaron Hicks, who’s 7-for-19 with the Orioles, is on the bench.

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Orioles approaching decision on fifth starter

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MILWAUKEE – The latest road trip ends today with Kyle Bradish starting for the Orioles. Tyler Wells is next in line, pitting him against the Royals.

The Orioles will confirm Wells in today’s game notes but might list Saturday as TBA because they aren’t ready to commit to a fifth starter.

A decision is pending, and the Orioles probably have their choices laid out in front of them.

Grayson Rodriguez isn’t eligible to return unless he’s replacing an injured player. We can excuse him from this discussion.

Rodriguez is allowed to come back after the weekend and he’s basically in reset mode with Triple-A Norfolk, with his next start scheduled for Saturday night but vulnerable to another change following a second postponement last night due to the air quality in Scranton-Wilkes/Barre. His absence isn’t expected to be prolonged. He just needed to work on fastball command and maybe regain whatever confidence might have chipped away.

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Orioles blanked for eight innings in 10-2 loss to Brewers (updated)

Orioles blanked for eight innings in 10-2 loss to Brewers (updated)

MILWAUKEE – The goals have shifted for the Orioles as they near the conclusion of their latest road trip.

Don’t get swept. Try to go .500.

Try to keep the first-place Rays within viewing distance and don’t let anyone get too close.

Corbin Burnes tossed eight scoreless innings, rookie Joey Wiemer homered twice and had five RBIs, and the Brewers scored six runs off Dean Kremer in a 10-2 victory before an announced crowd of 22,320 at American Family Field.

The Orioles won two of three games from the Giants but have dropped the first two in Milwaukee. Their record is 37-24, still good for second place in the division but leaving them 6 ½ behind Tampa Bay, which got a walk-off home run from Randy Arozarena.

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Urías on playing in same game as brother, Hyde on sitting Mountcastle tonight

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MILWAUKEE – Ramón Urías will watch his younger brother tonight from the visiting dugout. He can wave toward the home side.

Urías started at third base last night, with Luis playing second for the Brewers. Ramón isn’t in the lineup while mired in a 2-for-25 slump. Luis also is sitting.

The brothers hadn’t played in the same major league game before, creating a unique experience for the family.

“It was a special moment,” Ramón said this afternoon. “We were looking forward to this game, and it was an exciting moment to be on the field.”

One that they dreamed about growing up in Mexico.

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Orioles lineup includes Henderson

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MILWAUKEE – Gunnar Henderson has returned to the Orioles lineup tonight for the first time since Saturday.

Henderson was day-to-day with discomfort in his lower back.

Josh Lester is the designated hitter and Ryan O’Hearn gets the start at first base.

Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías are on the bench.

Adam Frazier is leading off again.

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Good news for Lester, crunching some Orioles numbers

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MILWAUKEE – Josh Lester hadn’t heard from the Orioles on Tuesday and took it as a positive sign.

They needed to make a corresponding move while reinstating left-hander Danny Coulombe from the bereavement list. Lester’s contract was selected over the weekend with Coulombe leaving the club, giving the Orioles 14 position players.

Sending Lester back down seemed like the predictable move. That’s often how it works. However, the club decided to option another left-handed hitter, Terrin Vavra, and keep Lester on the bench for the Milwaukee series.

“Obviously, I knew who I came up for and kind of the situation, the timetable of that,” Lester said, “but I didn’t know what would happen.”

So, how did Lester find out that he was staying in the majors after collecting his first hit and RBIs on Sunday?

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Orioles lose late lead and extra-inning game to Brewers (updated)

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MILWAUKEE – Kyle Gibson struck out Brice Turang on a curveball to end the bottom of the first inning and didn’t break stride on his way back to the dugout. He blew past catcher Adley Rutschman, who tried to meet him along the third base line and had to reach out to give him an encouraging pat.

The 35 pitches thrown and two runs allowed didn’t give Gibson much incentive to linger on the field.

With two outs in the eighth inning, reliever Yennier Cano snared a comebacker with an exaggerated snap of his glove, threw to first base and shook his head in disgust. Cano had his own frustrations, unable to hold onto a one-run lead.

By the end, players were filing into the clubhouse with a few heads bowed.

The Orioles couldn’t score against Peter Strzelecki in the top of the 10th, with pinch-hitter Josh Lester striking out to leave two on base, and Joey Wiemer singled off Austin Voth with two outs to bring home Andruw Monasterio and give the Brewers a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 22,535.

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Orioles pregame notes on Henderson, Urías brothers, Hicks and more

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MILWAUKEE – Gunnar Henderson took batting practice this afternoon and fielded ground balls to test his lower back.

Henderson remains out of the lineup but said earlier that he should be in the lineup Wednesday night.

“It’s getting better,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be back in there in the next day or two.”

Ramón Urías is starting at third base and batting seventh. Younger brother Luis is starting at second base for Milwaukee and also batting seventh.

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Henderson update and Orioles' lineup vs. Brewers

Gunnar Henderson

MILWAUKEE – Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson said he expects to be in Wednesday night’s lineup against the Brewers.

Henderson was removed from Saturday’s game in San Francisco with lower-back soreness and he didn’t play Sunday. Ramón Urías is playing third base tonight.

“It’s actually feeling pretty good today,” Henderson said. “It was just getting really tight and didn’t feel great bending forward, but doing activities today, just doing half the reps to see how it feels, and hopefully be in there tomorrow.”

Henderson figured he would be day-to-day and nothing more serious.

“It just progressively got worse after that train ride back from New York and just kept getting tight on me,” he said. “And then it got pretty unbearable the last game, and I was probably going to hurt the team more than help it at that point.”

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Orioles option Vavra to make room for Coulombe

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MILWAUKEE - Left-hander Danny Coulombe is back in the Orioles bullpen tonight after his reinstatement from the bereavement list. Infielder Terrin Vavera was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk as the corresponding move.

The roster has returned to the usual alignment of 13 pitchers and 13 position players for the series opener against the Brewers.

Coulombe missed two games in San Francisco. Vavra is batting .245/.315/.245 (12-for-49) with no extra-base hits in 27 games.

The Orioles chose to hold onto Josh Lester, who collected his first major league hit and two RBIs Sunday. They selected his contract to replace Coulombe.

Lester can play the corner infield and outfield positions, offering versatility similar to Vavra's.

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This, that and the other

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The Orioles probably welcomed another reset yesterday before beginning a three-game series in Milwaukee, though they won two of three games in San Francisco. Step back, take a breath, assess your own situation, maybe look around the majors and remember how good you have it and that everyone is dealing with something.

Every team in the American League East is .500 or better, with the Red Sox dropping their third in a row yesterday to leave their record at 30-30. Only the first-place Twins are above .500 in the AL Central. The defending World Series champion Astros are in second place in the AL West. The wild card Mariners began yesterday in fourth.

The Mets spent a lot of money in the offseason and are in third place in the NL East, ahead of the pennant-winning Phillies. The rebuilding Nationals are last, but only nine games below .500.

I’ve seen worse.

What are the Cardinals doing in last place in the NL Central? Is it stranger than the Pirates moving into first last night?

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Because You Asked - Across the Spider-Verse

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The Orioles might get spoiled with all of these off-days. Two since finishing their homestand on Wednesday.

They left San Francisco yesterday and continue their rare-visit tour with a stop in Milwaukee.

The Brewers swept the Orioles in a three-game set at Miller Park in July 2017, and if you remember that Jayson Aquino started in the series finale, my level of concern for you has grown to the size of Félix Bautista.

More concerning, perhaps, is that Seth Smith led off for the Orioles in the first two games.

This team was in contention going into September?

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This, that and the other

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As the Orioles braced for the extended loss of center fielder Cedric Mullins to a strained groin muscle, knowing that further tests would confirm his placement on the injured list but relieved that the news wasn’t worse, they pondered their options for replacing him on the active roster.

They couldn’t consider Triple-A outfielders Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers, who were on the injured list. They could recall an infielder to provide depth while others offered support in the outfield corners, leaving center to Austin Hays and Ryan McKenna, but shortstop Joey Ortiz wasn’t available due to some sort of illness that’s kept him from playing since his last demotion.

Aaron Hicks was a free agent after the Yankees designated him for assignment and released him, and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias expressed interest prior to Mullins’ injury. And the price certainly was right, with the Orioles paying on the prorated major league minimum.

But beware of accepting the role of center fielder with the Orioles. Mullins strained his groin. Hays was out of Wednesday’s lineup because of an illness, which showed in his face later as he shuffled to his locker with one of the athletic trainers. Hicks made his debut with the club, reached base three times and exited with left calf cramps.

One scenario that the Orioles didn’t consider, of course, was promoting Heston Kjerstad from Double-A Bowie. Many fans wanted it. I’m guessing that a few thought it could happen.

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Lester replaces Coulombe on Orioles' roster

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The Orioles placed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe on the bereavement list today and selected infielder Josh Lester’s contract from Triple-A Norfolk.

Reliever Dillon Tate was moved to the 60-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain to create room for Lester on the 40-man roster.

Coulombe struck out the side last night in the seventh inning to lower his ERA to 2.08.

An off-day on Monday could limit Coulombe’s absence from the Orioles to two games. They’re carrying 12 pitchers tonight and 14 position players.

Lester, signed to a minor league deal on Dec. 6, was batting .282/.339/.549 with nine doubles, two triples, 14 home runs and 50 RBIs in 52 games with Norfolk. His second and last major league game was Sept. 6, 2022 with the Tigers in Anaheim.

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Devereaux on Mullins: "He's top of the line in my book"

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Mike Devereaux spent 12 years in the majors and played everywhere in the outfield, with center his most dominant position. He climbed fences and crashed the late-night highlights after arriving in Baltimore in 1989, when the Orioles shocked the industry by going from historically worst to contending until the final weekend.

Devereaux worked as a guest instructor at spring training in February and was struck by some similarities with this year’s club, which began its series in San Francisco last night with the third-best record in baseball and serious intent to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“I got to meet these guys and I can see the confidence within them, and I can obviously see the talent,” he said this week. “They’re a young team, kind of like in ’89, and you see the drive. I had a feeling, and I told them, when Mike (Elias) said this is not a rebuilding year anymore, it changed everything. It’s like, ‘we’re ready to start winning.’”

The Orioles must keep it going while Cedric Mullins is on the injured list with a strained right groin muscle.

An impressive collection of players have skillfully patrolled center for the Orioles, most notably Hall of Famer Paul Blair, and Devereaux ranks Mullins highly on the all-time list.

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