O's game blog: The homestand begins against the Yankees

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Following a 2-4 road trip during which they won two of three in St. Louis and were swept at Detroit, the Orioles are back at Oriole Park tonight to start a week-long homestand. They host the New York Yankees for four games and then the Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for three over the weekend.

This starts a difficult stretch of two weeks of games within the American League East, with seven this week versus the Yankees and Rays and eight next week at New York and Boston.

The Orioles have played two home AL East series and won them both, over the Yankees and Red Sox. In fact, they are the only team to take a series from New York this year. The O’s have gone 4-8 within the division – they are 4-2 at home and 0-6 on the road.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24 ERA) will make his fourth big league start tonight in the series opener. He is coming off a strong outing at St. Louis on Tuesday. He gave up four hits and two runs over seven innings, with no walks and 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches and got nine swings and misses on 20 swings against his slider.

Bradish has thrown his fastball 51 percent thus far, at an average velocity of 94.7 mph, and uses his slider 31 percent, curveball 10 percent and changeup eight percent. He is getting a 43.2 groundball rate.

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Chirinos on Bradish: "I think he has a bright future here"

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With a lineup tonight that is still without Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle and will also be without shortstop Jorge Mateo, at least at the start, the O’s could use another solid game on the mound. They will send out rookie right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-1, 4.24) for his fourth career start.

And he is facing the first-place New York Yankees (25-9), who have the best record in the majors and have won six of seven and 18 of their last 21 games.

This is sure a challenge for a young pitcher facing a team that is tied for the American League lead in homers and OPS and is second in runs scored. A team on a 119-win pace.

For the fourth time in four starts, Robinson Chirinos is catching the youngster. Chirinos has been impressed by Bradish's start, particularly last week in St. Louis, when he allowed two runs over seven innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts.

I asked Chirinos what impressed him the most about Bradish in that outing.

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O's game blog: The road trip moves on to Detroit

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The Orioles produced two outstanding pitching performances to lead the way in wins over the St. Louis Cardinals by 5-3 Tuesday and 3-2 yesterday as they won another series and improved to 14-18. Now their six-game, two-city road trip has moved on to Detroit for tonight’s series opener.

The Orioles and Tigers play the next three days. The Birds have won four of their past five games and six of their last eight, and they are 8-4 over the last 12 games. Since April 20 they are 11-10.

The Orioles are 4-1-1 the last six series.

* Went 2-1 at Los Angeles Angels.
* Went 0-3 at New York Yankees.
* Went 2-1 vs. Boston.
* Went 2-2 vs. Minnesota.
* Went 2-1 vs. Kansas City.
* Went 2-1 at St. Louis.

The Orioles are also now playing better in close games. They are 5-2 in their past seven games that were decided by one or two runs. For the year, they are 5-5 each in both one- and two-run games.

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Late bloomer on mound for O's at end of the games in St. Louis

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Can we call a pitcher who was released by one organization and spent all of his first six seasons - when he wasn’t hurt - in short-season ball but is now in the majors a late bloomer? Can we call that a run-on sentence?

Probably, but it’s hard to be concise at times about the story of right-hander Félix Bautista, a hard-throwing pitcher from the Dominican Republic who made the Orioles roster for the first time at age 26. The same pitcher was touching 102 mph and getting his first two major league saves during the St. Louis series. The same pitcher who was pitching for high Single-A Aberdeen at this time last year.

An overnight sensation at age 26?

Hardly. It took Bautista a lot of time and hard work to get to the point he could get a four-out save in front of 35,000 on the road against a playoff contender.

He needed to throw 24 pitches Thursday afternoon to close out the game with the help of a sensational catch and inning-ending double play from shortstop Jorge Mateo. But Bautista got it done, throwing nine pitches at 100 mph or more, per Statcast, and throwing 14 at 98 mph or more. His average velocity this year heading into that outing was a robust 97.7 mph. His average velocity in the game Thursday was 100.3.

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O's game blog: The series finale, plus minor league honors

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After a 5-3 win behind Kyle Bradish’s seven-inning, 11-strikeout performance followed by a 10-1 loss last night, the Orioles wrap up their series in St. Louis this afternoon. Right-hander Bryan Baker will start and pitch as an opener in the series finale.

The Orioles are 3-1 in rubber match games, losing against Milwaukee but posting wins against the Yankees, Red Sox and Royals.

Baltimore is 13-18 through 31 games, and has won five of seven and seven of the last 11 games. The Orioles are 10-10 over the past 20 and 6-4 in May. They are 2-3 versus National League teams, going 1-2 against Milwaukee and 1-1 versus St. Louis. The Orioles are 4-11 in road games and 1-3 in road series, winning one in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels.

Baker (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will start today’s game for Baltimore, making his 12th appearance of the season but first as a starter. He has thrown 10 innings, allowing 11 hits and six runs, and recording two walks and 11 strikeouts. He has a 1.300 WHIP with a 1.8 walk rate and 9.9 strikeout rate. He has thrown seven scoreless outings, but his longest outing is 1 2/3 innings and his highest pitch count in any game is 24.

Over his past four games, he has allowed three hits and one run in 2 2/3 innings. Lefty batters hit .231 with an OPS of .692 against him, and right-handed batters are hitting .308/.665.

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Mancini on potential arrival soon of Rutschman and other notes

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Trey Mancini seemed to be choosing his words a bit carefully. He didn’t want any misunderstanding. But when I asked him recently about the possible arrival soon of top prospect Adley Rutschman, he let it be known the clubhouse will embrace him with open arms.

He also wanted us to know the team is getting better before our eyes this season and working very hard on what they need to do each day with the current roster. They seem focused on the day-to-day business of baseball and are not looking too far down the road. They can leave that to media and fans to ponder and speculate about when we will see Rutschman in Baltimore.

“It’s cool (he could arrive soon), but at the same time, I want to word this correctly, like we’re worried about here and now,” said Mancini, during the last homestand. “We know guys are coming and it’s exciting. But at the same time, I think we are more paying attention to who is here now. And what is going on around here.

“Whenever they come up it’s going to be awesome and we’re going to show them the ropes. But, you know, it’s major league baseball at the same time, too. When the whole crew of guys comes up, I think they’re going to be really good and be here for a long time. There will be some great teams.

"But it’s a tough division, too. There definitely is a bit of a learning curve at times. I think we have enough guys here and the culture has been really good that we can show them the ropes. I think it’s going to be really good. We’re really excited for him to come up, and a lot of other guys. But at the same time, we are more focused on the day-to-day and trying to win ballgames right now.”

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O's pregame notes on Mountcastle, Wells, Mullins and more

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The Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle is mostly fine today after rolling his ankle during a stolen base of second in the first inning of Game 2 last night. Mountcastle stayed in the game then and is back in the lineup today, batting fifth as the DH in the series finale with Kansas City.

“Yeah, watching that, that didn’t looked good. But we dodged a bullet there and he feels good today. Think a little bit sore, but not too bad,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Mountcastle, who is 9-for-17 over his past four games.

The Orioles will start right-handers Kyle Bradish and Spenser Watkins in the first two games of their series at St. Louis, which begins tomorrow night. But Thursday is TBA and they seem unlikely to bring Jordan Lyles or Bruce Zimmermann back on short rest. After rainouts over the weekend and a doubleheader Sunday, Thursday likely will not feature someone currently in the rotation. 

“I think we’re seeing how the next couple of days go and then we’ll figure it out. Right now, we have no idea at this point. We’ll weigh some options here the next couple of days,” Hyde said this morning.

Hyde needed his bullpen for only 4 2/3 innings in Sunday’s doubleheader and the ‘pen is in good shape today. He said all pitchers used Sunday are available today.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles pitches Game 1 for Orioles

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When we last saw them on the field, the Orioles were beating the first-place Minnesota Twins on Wednesday and Thursday nights. They pounded out 12 hits and scored nine runs over the third and fourth innings Wednesday in a 9-4 win. They hit five solo homers in Thursday’s 5-3 victory to split a four-game series.

But the Orioles (10-16) and Kansas City Royals (8-15) have been rained out Friday and Saturday nights. So now this is a two-day, three-game series with a doubleheader this afternoon and a single game to wrap up the series tomorrow at 12:05 p.m.

The Orioles have won four of six games and are 4-3 on this homestand and 7-6 in home games in 2022. They are 14-5 in their past 19 home games against Kansas City since the 2015 season.

K.C. began the year 5-5, but is 3-10 since and most recently has lost five of its past six games. The Royals have been shut out three times in the past five games and four times on the year. They are 2-6 in road games. Manager Mike Matheny is sitting on 699 career wins.

When Baltimore bashed five homers Thursday, it marked the club's first time hitting at least five in a game since June 19, 2021 versus Toronto, when they hit six longballs. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this was the 11th time in team history that the O’s have hit five solo home runs in a game, with the last time also coming on June 19, 2021, when five of their six homers were solo shots. The Orioles have hit at least five in a game 67 times in team history, going 59-8 in such games.

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Baseball's small world: Allen reunited with youth coach/mentor with O's

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For left-hander Logan Allen, 24, joining the Orioles gives him another chance to establish himself as a pitcher in the major leagues. And it might be his best chance yet, not because of the opportunity he could get as much as who is here to greet him.

As he joined the Orioles officially this week – picked up via waivers from Cleveland on Thursday and added to the roster the next day – he is reunited with someone he has known since his childhood days in Orioles assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes.

Saying he is “really, really excited (to be here). Great opportunity, great organization,” this morning in the clubhouse, Allen noted his connection with Holmes.

“He was, like, my first coach ever. Taught me how to pitch,” he said.

Allen will be used out of the bullpen initially with the Orioles but could find his way into the rotation at some point, and manager Brandon Hyde noted they have that option with a pitcher who has made 15 career big league appearances as a starter and 15 in relief.

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With the O's wins, sometimes comes emotion

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It was the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday night at Camden Yards. There was one out and the Orioles and the first-place Twins were tied 3-3. If the Orioles could pull off a win, they would split a four-game series with a good club. If they were to lose, they would have lost three of four in the series.

Hard-throwing right-hander Jhoan Durán fired a splitter toward the outer half on his 1-1 pitch. Austin Hays drilled the ball deep toward the new left field wall. You better hit it good to clear that thing, and Hays did – just barely, but it got over – for a go-ahead homer.

It was a big hit, against a good club, late in the game that put his team ahead. If there was a time to show some emotion, this was it. Hays did just that. He came speeding around first base as the ball cleared the wall. Hays looked back toward his dugout and shouted something to his teammates. The emotion of hitting a big homer was washing over him.

Ryan Mountcastle followed with another homer and there was more emotion. A small crowd at Camden Yards sounded much larger.

We’ve seen some emotion from O’s players this year during some big moments that have led to wins. It’s not unlike things we’ve seen from opposing players when they are beating the Orioles. Such passion can get a team and a crowd fired up. Nothing wrong with letting out a scream or pumping a fist when you just delivered a key hit, homer, or strikeout.

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O's postponed tonight against Kansas City

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For the second day in a row, the Orioles scheduled home game with the Royals has been postponed due to inclement weather. The clubs hoped to play the opener of what is now a two-day, three-game series tonight, but the game was postponed just after 4:30 p.m. ET.

A straight single-admission doubleheader is still scheduled for Sunday with the first game beginning at 1:35 p.m. And now the teams will conclude this series with a single game on Monday afternoon at 12:05 p.m.

The Orioles revised pitching order for this series now shows right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.50 ERA) pitching the opener on Sunday against right-hander Zack Greinke (0-2, 2.57 ERA). Then lefty Bruce Zimmermann (1-1, 2.59 ERA) goes for Baltimore in Game 2 versus righty Daniel Lynch (2-1, 3.86 ERA). Right-hander Tyler Wells (0-2, 4.50 ERA) will start Monday's game for the Orioles opposite righty Carlos Hernandez (0-1, 6.00 ERA).

Tickets for tonight’s postponed game will be valid for the May 9 game, no exchange necessary. If you are unable to attend the makeup date no action is required. We will reach out via email to all ticket holders unable to attend the May 9 makeup date with an offer for complimentary tickets in a similar seating area for a wide variety of game options later this season. For more information, please visit Orioles.com/Weather.

The game will be broadcast on MASN and on the Orioles Radio Network, including the flagship station of Hearst Baltimore’s 98 Rock FM and WBAL NewsRadio AM/FM. Complimentary tickets are non-exchangeable and must be used for Monday’s makeup date.

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Will O's momentum on offense carry into the weekend?

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When the Orioles scored a season-high nine runs last Sunday at home versus Boston, they followed up that game by scoring one and two in the next two games against Minnesota. But when they tied that season high by scoring nine runs on Wednesday night, they came back the next night and hit five solo homers in Thursday’s 5-3 win.

The Orioles scored 14 runs the last two games against Minnesota's good pitching staff, one that was having a heckuva year until the last two nights. The Twins, as a result of those games, dropped to fourth in team ERA in the American League at 3.36.

But Kansas City, which faces the Orioles for three games over the next two days in Baltimore, ranks last in the AL in team ERA at 4.57 and last in WHIP at 1.36. The Royals' rotation ERA ranks 13th at 4.32.

Kansas City, since going 5-5 to begin the season, has lost 10 of 13 games and is 1-5 over its last six games. Can the O’s now take advantage of another team considered more on their level that is now struggling? We begin to find out tonight.

There are signs the O’s offense is continuing to trend up, as we’ve written about over the last week or so.

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Hall on Rutschman: "He's a difference maker"

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BOWIE, Md. – Two of the Orioles' very best prospects looked every bit of that yesterday as they played for Double-A Bowie against Harrisburg. After both catcher Adley Rutschman and pitcher DL Hall had another good day they did a round of interviews. And not long after that came the news that the stay in Bowie would last three days.

They were promoted to Triple-A Norfolk to join the Tides in Nashville tonight. For Rutschman it’s a return to the team he ended last year with. Hall will make his Triple-A debut in his first Norfolk game.

Their inevitable march to Baltimore takes another important step. The Orioles continue to get on with it with some of their prospects. They are now on the cusp of the majors.

Hall pitched 3 2/3 innings versus Harrisburg Thursday afternoon, allowing three hits and two runs that scored after he left the game. He was dominant at times, touching 99 and 100 mph, and got swings and misses with four pitches.

But the best stat for Hall, according to the pitcher himself, was his strike percentage. It was 80 percent, with 47 of his 59 pitches strikes. He got strikes on 19 of 21 pitches the first two innings and fanned six batters the first time through the order. For a pitcher with a career 5.0 walk rate, it seems he is making big progress with control and command. This was the definition of pounding the zone. After his elbow stress fracture short-circuited his 2021 season last June, Hall had some thinking to do about needing to throw more strikes moving forward.

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish faces first-place Minnesota

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When the Orioles traded right-hander Dylan Bundy to the Los Angeles Angels on Dec. 4, 2019, one of four pitchers they got back was right-hander Kyle Bradish. Tonight Bradish, in his second big league start, pitches against Bundy at Oriole Park.

Bradish (0-1, 3.00 ERA) and Bundy (3-1, 2.95 ERA) square off in the third game of the series between the O's and first-place Minnesota at Camden Yards. The Twins have pitched their way to 2-1 and 7-2 wins to start this four-game set as they improved to 15-9 overall and to 11-1 the last 12 games.

The Twins pitching staff ranks second in the American League and fourth in the majors with a team ERA of 3.01. And they are first in the AL and third in the big leagues with a rotation ERA of 2.63. Minnesota pitchers have allowed just 25 runs the last 12 games.

And they are facing an O’s offense that has struggled much of the year. The Orioles have scored fewer than three runs in 14 of their 24 games this season and four times the past five games. The Orioles rank 30th in the majors with a team slugging percentage of .311 and are 28th in OPS at .609. They are averaging only 3.08 runs per game.

Bradish made his big league debut on Friday and went six innings, allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) against Boston with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches in a 3-1 loss. Bradish used his four-seam fastball 45 times that night, at an average velocity of 94.1 mph, which topped at 97.2. He used his slider 20 times, curveball nine times and changeup seven.

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Mountcastle has overcome a slow start before

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Ryan Mountcastle has been here before. He is struggling early in the season. During a 2021 season that ended for him with an Orioles rookie record 33 homers and with a .796 OPS, he got off to a very slow start.

Through 25 games last season, Mountcastle, who went on to finish sixth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, was batting .198/.229/.286/.515. He is actually struggling a bit less now, per the stat sheet, through 22 games, batting .227/.261/.307/.568.

Since he got out of a major slump early last year, he just has to do it again. And having done it once sure gives him experience and confidence that he will do it again.

“A little bit," he said today in the O's clubhouse. "This year I feel like I’m putting together better at-bats than I did last year early in the year. Some things just aren’t falling right now. I feel like I’ve probably lined out about five or six games in a row. That’s just baseball. You have to get through it, and hopefully they start dropping soon. Going through that struggle last year has definitely kept me level-headed going through a rough patch."

So what did he do then that could help now?

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Adley Rutschman arrives at Bowie, talks about next steps

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Catcher Adley Rutschman’s rise toward his major league debut took another big step last night as he began a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie when the Baysox opened a six-game series at Prince George’s Stadium against Harrisburg.

Rutschman’s chances to make the O’s opening day roster were dashed early in big league spring training by a strained right triceps. But he’s doing much better now and last week at high Single-A Aberdeen he went 6-for-13 with three doubles. He went 4-for-5 on Saturday for the IronBirds.

Several reporters, including those from the "MASN All Access" crew, interviewed Rutschman before Tuesday’s game at Bowie.

“Felt great so far. I think the training staff, all the coaches, they’ve just done a tremendous job so far," Rutschman said of his return to game action. "Helped me feel right at home and get me back in the swing of things. It’s been great.

“Just continue now to keep progressing forward. Just trying to feel good and stay healthy. Get to see guys and keep those relationships up. Last week was a great week. Got to see all the guys and now looking forward to this week.”

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O's game blog: O's face first-place Twins in series opener

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The Orioles' homestand continues tonight at Camden Yards. After the Birds took two of three from Boston over the weekend, winning the last two games, they begin a four-game series against Minnesota.

The Twins (13-9) are a team on a good roll. They are 9-1 since a 4-8 start to their season. They just won two of three from Tampa Bay, taking the last two games versus the Rays by 9-1 and 9-3 scores. Minnesota is now 13-7 against Tampa Bay since July 2018. The Twins' run differential is a plus-32 over the past 10 games.

Minnesota has moved into first place in the American League Central, leading by three games over Cleveland and by 4 1/2 over the Chicago White Sox. The Twins are the fourth current first-place team the Orioles have played. Baltimore went 1-2 versus Milwaukee, 2-4 against the New York Yankees and 2-1 versus the Los Angeles Angels, so 5-7 against the first-place teams.

Minnesota’s rotation ERA of 2.62 is the best in the AL and fourth in the major leagues. The Twins' overall team ERA of 3.15 ranks second in the AL, and its 3.80 bullpen ERA rates 13th. Over the last 10 games, Minnesota pitchers have allowed just 22 runs total and allowed two runs or fewer six times in that span.

The Twins are 3-4 in series openers, 3-3 against the AL East, 5-5 in road games and 8-0 when they outhit their opponent.

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A look at reasons to have hope for the offense

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Captain Obvious checked in with me again this weekend. To his credit, he first asked me how I was feeling and then discussed the O’s offense. He told me they were really struggling. This call came before Sunday’s game, when the Orioles scored a season-high nine runs.

It was obvious they had a good day and we didn’t need any Captains to notice that.

But they had scored just three runs combined in the first two games of the Boston series and, as always, the Captain had a valid point.

Here is the good news: Before Sunday, they were struggling so much that the stat sheet and history tell us they will get better, at least to some degree. And then we can look at several key Baltimore hitters and see how they are performing and how when they get it going - and they likely will - that should help too.

First, here is a look at the lowest scoring teams in the majors the last three years in runs per game, and where the Orioles were in those seasons.

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O's game blog: The series with Boston continues

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The Orioles began a long homestand last night and they once again struggled for offense. They didn’t score until Ryan Mountcastle blasted a 423-foot homer in the last of the ninth in a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The Orioles (6-14) have now lost five games in a row. They are also now 3-4 at home (scoring just 18 runs), 3-8 at night, 3-4 in series openers, 1-11 when their opponent scores first and 2-8 versus the American League East. The Red Sox improved to 9-12.

Right-hander Kyle Bradish made a solid major league debut, allowing three runs (two earned) and five hits over six innings on 81 pitches. But he took the loss as the Orioles were held to just five hits for the fourth time this year and second time in three games.

The Orioles are now 13-6 dating back to 2008 when their starting pitcher was making his big league debut.

Mountcastle’s second homer avoided a shutout, and the blast had 111 mph exit velocity. Mountcastle produced three of the top 10 exit velocities in the game as he also smoked a lineout at 106 and a single at 102 mph.

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O's game blog: The Yankees series begins in Bronx

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It’s on to The Bronx for the Orioles' three-city road trip. The Birds play the Yankees tonight in the first of a three-game series to wrap up the trip. It began with the Orioles going 1-3 at Oakland and then 2-1 in Anaheim versus the Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees lost two of three in Baltimore in the series just before this O’s trip. But New York is 5-1 since leaving Baltimore and swept Cleveland three in a row over the weekend by scores of 4-1, 5-4 and 10-2. New York scored just six runs in the three games at Camden Yards, but has scored 28 runs in the six games since. The Yankees (10-6) begin play tonight half-game behind Toronto for the American League East lead.

The Orioles (6-10) lost 7-6 to the Angels on Sunday. They beat Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, then fell short of getting a sweep. Had they done that, it would have been their first road sweep since June 28-30, 2021 at Houston and first sweep of Los Angeles in a three-game series since Aug. 27-29, 2010 at Angel Stadium.

The Orioles offense produced 16 runs at Angel Stadium. After scoring just 24 runs during the first 12 games, and going 4-8, the O’s have scored 20 over the last four games, going 2-2.

The last five games have been decided by one or two runs and the Orioles are 3-2 in those games. They are 5-5 since starting the year 1-5. They are 3-4 on this road trip and 3-2 on the season in series-opening games. Baltimore is 0-5 when it homers in a game and the Birds had their first two-homer game on Sunday.

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