O's promote Henderson and Westburg to Triple-A, plus new rosters


They are moving on up. The Orioles today promoted infielders Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg from Double-A Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk. Both will now get tested at the minor leagues’ highest level, one step below the big leagues in Baltimore.

They are expected to be with the Tides (26-28) for the opener of their series Tuesday night at Nashville.  

Henderson, 20, is having a huge year and is now ranked No. 37 by Baseball America in an updated top 100 prospects list. MLBPipeline.com has him at No. 46.

In 47 games with Bowie he batted .312/.452/.573/.1.025 with 11 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 35 RBIs and 12 steals in 14 attempts, and scored 41 runs. He has made remarkable improvement in plate discipline and has walked more than he has struck out, 41 to 38.

The Orioles' second-round pick in 2019 out of an Alabama high school, Henderson will turn 21 on June 29.

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More Mike Elias on Rodriguez, DL Hall and other topics


When O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias updated reporters Sunday about baseball’s top pitching prospect, Grayson Rodriguez, he noted that the right-hander is not doing anything with his mechanics that made him more likely to develop the lat issue that has now sidelined him.

But Elias did note one thing Rodriguez does that might make him more likely to have such an issue.

“I don’t think that he is doing anything particularly wrong mechanically that would have contributed to this. But, it is kind of a verified thing that very hard throwers like him have more lat recruitment, generally, in their deliveries," Elias said. "So, you do see this injury more with guys that throw in the upper 90s across baseball. If you recall, (Triple-A Norfolk lefty) DL Hall had something similar in 2019, and he’s another guy that throws hard. So, not a surprise.”

Elias confirmed Sunday that Rodriguez does have a Grade 2 lat strain but mentioned he hopes Rodriguez might return by September, although the Orioles still can’t exactly pinpoint his return. It could be sooner, but it also could be later. One thing that is all but set: Elias expects Rodriguez to begin the 2023 season in the Baltimore rotation.  

He could even pitch in the big leagues later this year if the rehab goes well.

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O's can't catch up after early homer and lose to Cleveland in series finale

kremer throws home orange

After he had thrown minor league rehab outings of two, three and four innings, the Orioles knew that right-hander Dean Kremer would likely not pitch deep into today’s game. But after the first inning today, he did throw well in his 18th career major league start.

But a three-run homer in the first on this sunny afternoon put him and the Orioles behind early and they could never catch up as they lost 3-2 to Cleveland in the rubber match game of this series.

The Orioles fall to 23-33 overall, to 6-4 in rubber-match games, to 2-4 on this homestand and to 14-15 at home for the season.

Second baseman Andrés Giménez hit 1-0 changeup to second baseman out of the park for his seventh homer of the year, and that three-run blast would put Cleveland ahead five batters into today's game. Kremer’s outing began with a strikeout before Ahmed Rosario ripped a 107 mph single, and with two outs, Owen Miller walked to bring up Giménez.

Kremer's changeup then found too much of the plate and Giménez drilled it 372 feet into the right-center seats for the lead as Cleveland improved to 24-25 overall with its fifth win in the last six games.

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Mike Elias updates on Rodriguez, Hyde talks about Kremer


Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said today that baseball's top pitching prospect, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, could return this year to pitch in September. He added that whether that happens or not, the club is very much expecting that Rodriguez will begin the 2023 season in the Orioles rotation from opening day on.

Rodriguez, who is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 11 starts with Triple-A Norfolk, left his outing Wednesday after throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits. He was closing in on his major league debut when he walked off the mound with the trainer in what was described last night as a lat issue.

Elias confirmed the same today and said that, after additional medical review, Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a grade II lat strain.

“He’s going to, basically, have to rest and build back up, ramp back up, and it’s going to be a process that takes at least several weeks,” Elias told reporters in the Orioles dugout. “There is probably a lot of variability to the exact amount of weeks this takes to get back out to competition. It just kind of depends how it goes. He’s feeling really good right now, so that’s a good sign. But statistically, you look at these professional pitchers and I think that the bull's eye right now is on the month of September, when we would have the option of getting him back out on the field. We’ll see. He may beat that timeline, it may take longer than that.

“Whether or not we decide to pitch him again in September, or just let the season end, it’s going to be TBD (to be determined). So we’ll see. The good news is this is an injury we have a very, very high degree of confidence that it’s going to heal. And he’ll back to himself in no time. And at the very least put himself in position to join our rotation out of spring training. That’s our hope. We’re looking forward to getting him back to work. He’s a tough kid and a very hard worker, so I expect he’s going to do very well.”

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Vavra close to Triple-A return in pursuit of big league dream

vavra portrait

It was the fifth inning of a game for Triple-A Norfolk at home on April 20 versus Durham. Terrin Vavra, playing center field that night, lined an RBI single to right to give the Tides a 3-0 lead.

Added to the Orioles 40-man roster over the winter, he was off to a good start for the Tides, batting over .300 through his first 13 Triple-A games. Then came another hit. Now that he was on the 40-man, maybe that first call to the big leagues would not be that far away.

“Felt like I was seeing the ball pretty well, our team was winning and we were having a lot of fun,” Vavra remembered yesterday during an interview at high Single-A Aberdeen’s Ripken Stadium. “As I was rounding first on a ball I was going to try and go to second on, my hamstring grabbed on me. Had a Grade II strain in there that took some time to heal. We wanted to make sure that we gave it the adequate space to heal so it is not something that lingers or comes back.”

So Vavra has played this week in minor league rehab games with Aberdeen and last night played nine innings for the first time this week. He said he expects to rejoin Norfolk for its series beginning Tuesday at Nashville.

Vavra dealt with some back issues last season that limited him to 40 games at Double-A Bowie, where he posted an .818 OPS. The Colorado Rockies' third round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, he was acquired by the Orioles on Aug. 30, 2020 in the deal that sent pitcher Mychal Givens to the Rockies. The O's received Vavra along with Tyler Nevin and a player to be named, who turned out to be young Dominican outfielder Mishael Deson.

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O's game blog: Tyler Wells faces Cleveland at Camden Yards

Tyler wells pitching white

Now 1-3 on an eight-game homestand, the Orioles will look to even their series with Cleveland at a win each today as they host the Guardians at Oriole Park. 

Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber took a no-hitter to the sixth and a one-hit shutout to the eighth last night as Cleveland won 6-3 in the series opener. The Guardians took an early 5-0 lead on lefty Bruce Zimmermann on Friday.

The Orioles (22-32) are now 13-14 at home, 4-5 in their past nine games and 16-18 over the last 34 games. Cleveland (23-24) has won four in a row by a combined 25-9 score, winning three in a row versus Kansas City before the series opener in Baltimore. 

Cleveland pitchers have a team ERA of 2.55 the past 16 games and their rotation ERA is 2.78, with 13 quality starts in that span.

The O's rotation has struggled recently, with just one quality start the past 11 games. And that was by today's starter, right-hander Tyler Wells (2-4, 3.71 ERA), who pitched six scoreless innings his last time out.

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O's game blog: The series opener against Cleveland


The next team to hit town on the current Orioles homestand is the Cleveland Guardians. The Orioles and Guardians begin a three-game series at the Yard tonight that continues on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Cleveland (22-24) got off to a 7-5 start to its season, but has gone 15-19 since April 22. Most recently though, the Guardians swept three from Kansas City, winning by 7-3 and 8-3, and then 4-0 on Wednesday night. Cleveland is in second place in the American League Central and is 4 ½ games behind the Minnesota Twins.

Cleveland is 11-16 on the road, 3-4 versus American League East teams, and is 7-10 over its past 17 games.

Cleveland only ranks 10th in the American League in rotation ERA (4.09) and seventh in overall team ERA (3.73) in the league, but has been getting outstanding pitching lately. Over its past 15 games, the Guardians overall ERA is 2.52 and its rotation ERA is 2.80 in that span.

Cleveland’s José Ramírez, a three-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, is having another big year. He is batting .292 with a 1.025 OPS to go with 13 homers and 52 RBIs. He ranks first in the AL in RBIs, and no one else is close. New York’s Aaron Judge is second with 39 RBIs. Ramírez is second in slugging (.632) and OPS. His whiff rate of 11.2 is third lowest among qualifying hitters in the league.

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The Pérez/Holt connection, a new top 100 and other notes

Cionel Perez White Jersey

Last night was not his best effort – lefty Cionel Pérez walked two of the three batters he faced in the Seattle sixth inning – but overall he has had a big year for the Orioles this season out of the bullpen.

A waiver claim from the Cincinnati Reds in November, Pérez entered that outing last night having allowed just one run and 15 hits over 16 1/3 innings with seven walks to 17 strikeouts. His fastball is averaging 96 mph and he touched 97.5 in the game Wednesday night when he threw 1 1/3 scoreless and was the winning pitcher against the Mariners.

But he gave up one run in just 1/3 of an inning last night and his ERA increased to 1.08.

Before last night’s game Pérez mentioned that one reason he has had a nice comfort zone with the Orioles is his previous relationship with O’s pitching coach Chris Holt. When both were in the Houston organization, Pérez had Holt for his pitching coach when he was with high Single-A Buies Creek in the 2017 season.

“He has been a big help,” Pérez said through O’s interpreter Brandon Quinones about Holt before Thursday’s game. “Now that we are both here together he keeps me in check with my movement on the ball and if something is off with my delivery, he lets me know that and we work together with getting on the same page. Plus we are a big team here within the bullpen and if anyone notices something is off with another pitcher in delivery or whatever, we let each other know.”

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O's game blog: Kyle Bradish faces Seattle at the Yard

Kyle Bradish throws gray

During a season when the Orioles have played so many close games – with 30 of 51, or 59 percent, decided by one or two runs – the last three Orioles games were blowouts. All three produced 10-run margins.

Sunday at Boston the Orioles lost 12-2 to the Red Sox, and then Monday night the O's beat the Sox 10-0 at Fenway Park. And last night the Orioles fell behind 8-0 in the third inning and were held to just five hits in a 10-0 loss to Seattle. Yep, back-to-back 10-0 games, so at least the run differential is zero for the two games.

But the Orioles fell to 21-30 with that loss that started a three-game series and eight-game homestand against the Mariners, Guardians and Cubs. The O’s are now 12-12 at home. They had a chance to produce a month of .500 baseball, but instead finished May at 14-16. Their last non-losing-record month was July 2019, when they went 12-12.

The Orioles have been held to two runs or fewer in 24 games this season, and five hits or fewer 12 times.

Baltimore is now 7-9 in series-opening games and 9-25 when their opponent scores first. They are 5-22 when they score three or fewer runs. Over their past 13 games the Orioles have a 7-6 record, and they are 15-16 in 31 games since April 30.

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Cedric Mullins continues the work and tweaks to get his bat rolling


After hitting two balls last night that he felt were pretty squared up and neither resulted in a hit, O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins continues to work to get his stats more in line with his own expectations of himself.

While no one around the Orioles seems concerned about his current stats, they are well off what he posted during a 2021 season that ended with him as the unanimous choice for Most Valuable Oriole and finishing ninth for the American League MVP Award. He posted an .878 OPS and recorded the first 30 home runs/30 stolen bases season in Orioles history.

He set the bar pretty darn high last year.

“That’s on me. That is a good thing,” Mullins said this afternoon in the Orioles clubhouse.

Through 50 games he is batting .236/.296/.365/.662, and he is batting just .169 (11-for-65) with an OPS of .410 his past 16 games.

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O's work on command with hard-throwing, young Delmarva reliever


The Orioles have begun the process of building a bullpen with several flamethrowers for the late innings. Throughout baseball, we see playoff-caliber teams that seem to have one mid-to-high 90s velocity reliever after another to parade to the mound.

And up and down the Baltimore farm, the Orioles are looking to develop some hard throwers that could one day find their way to the majors. Right now, at low Single-A Delmarva, the O's have a young Dominican-born right-hander who has hit 100 mph. But, like his velocity, his walk rate is high too. 

So the process to harness that control and command is now underway at ballparks throughout the Carolina League. 

That Shorebirds roster is loaded with young international talent. That part of the O’s pipeline is starting to show its stuff. But there are also players there that are more long-term projects, like 21-year-old pitcher Alejandro Mendez.

When I ranked the top O’s international prospects in February, Mendez was No. 20 on that list, mostly because he has some of the best arm strength in the club’s international program. He has touched 98 mph this year and hit 99 and even 100 on some pitches in the rookie-level Florida Complex League in 2021.

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The series win in Boston and a 50-game schedule analysis

santander skyward @BOS gray

When the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 10-0 it was an impressive way to end a five-game series and an eight-game American League East road trip in which they went 4-4 at New York and Boston.

The Orioles are playing better within their division this year, producing this stunning stat: They have already won more series against the AL East in 2022 then they did in all of the 2021 season.

Last year the Orioles went 3-19-2 in series play within the division, and this season they are 4-4, with their win last night providing a series victory over Boston. They are 1-3 in series against the Yankees, 1-1 versus the Rays and 2-0 against the Red Sox. They are 4-9 in games against New York, 2-4 against Tampa Bay and 5-3 versus Boston.

That is a record of 11-16 (.407) versus the AL East after going 20-56 (.263) last season. Winning through the year at their current percentage against the division would produce a final mark this season of 31-45 against AL East teams. Better. Progress.

Right-hander Tyler Wells was so good Monday night, throwing six scoreless innings on two hits and 88 pitches as Boston batters went 2-for-20 against him. Keep in mind the Red Sox came into this game averaging 7.3 runs per game over their previous 19 games and had scored six runs or more in eight of their previous 11 games. They had 10 extra-base hits Sunday and just four hits on Monday night.

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The O's build-a-'pen from almost scratch has been working big so far

Cionel Perez throwing orange road

Can you build a bullpen and get significant contributions from other teams' castoffs and have that bullpen perform about as well as any in baseball? So far, for the Orioles, that answer is yes.

Over time we will see if this bullpen can keep up its impressive start and how the ‘pen will hold up when having to cover so many innings. But if we gave a 49-game grade, how could they get anything other than an A?

Even in losing 12-2 Sunday, right-hander Cody Sedlock helped preserve the bullpen for tonight by pitching three innings plus in his major league debut. He and Marcos Diplán combined to give up six runs, but no other pitchers were needed on a day when starter Bruce Zimmermann allowed five homers and pitched just four innings.

The O’s ‘pen, in having this big year, has been a real key in the team’s overall improvement and ability to beat good teams and win some close games. The Orioles seem to be slowly getting better at winning those close games as the year goes on.

Through Saturday’s games, the Baltimore 'pen had an ERA of 3.00 to rank second behind Houston at 2.53. And the O’s bullpen compiled a 2.61 ERA in May, also second to the Astros, whose relievers are at 1.94 for the month.

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O's game blog: Jordan Lyles pitches the opener (update, Reyes in Game 2)

Jordan Lyles throwing white

After producing their biggest comeback win since Aug. 14, 2016 on Friday night, the Orioles returned to Fenway Park this morning for long day of baseball. The clubs play the first game of a day-night doubleheader at 12:10 p.m., with the second game set for 6:10 p.m.

The Orioles (19-27) trailed 6-0 after two innings last night and were behind 8-2 when the seventh inning started. But they scored 10 late runs to beat Boston 12-8 in the opener of this five-game, four-day series. 

Jorge Mateo's three-run homer in the seventh pulled them within 8-5, and an inning later they scored three more, two on an Austin Hays' homer, to get even. A four-run ninth put the win over the top. 

In that game at San Francisco in August 2016, the Orioles trailed 7-1 after five and then scored two each in the seventh and eighth and three runs in the ninth for an 8-7 win. That was the last time they won when trailing by six runs at any point in the game.

Entering play last night, the Orioles had lost their last 181 games in which they trailed by at least six runs. Baltimore’s 11 comeback wins this season are tied for the second-most in the American League and fifth-most in the majors, and their comeback last night is the second-largest comeback win in the AL this season, and tied for the third-largest in the big leagues.

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One surprising area on stat sheet where Aberdeen is strong


The Orioles' high Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds affiliate, at 28-12, has produced one of the best records in minor league baseball this year. There are obvious reasons for that, to include one of the best offenses in the South Atlantic League. The IronBirds score, on average, 5.56 runs per game through Wednesday’s contests.

Then there's a team ERA that ranks third in the league at 3.84 with an unheralded but solid rotation.

And there are more hidden reasons for Aberdeen’s success. Like the club’s tremendous ability to steal bases.

They have stolen a whopping 74 bases this year and have been caught just 13 times for an 85 percent success rate. They rank second in the league in steals, and the “go-go” IronBirds have four players with 11 or more steals and 14 players with at least one stolen base.

In the minor leagues, pitchers can only make a pickoff move toward a base twice per plate appearance. On a third try, the runner will be awarded second base if not picked off. That helps, but manager Roberto Mercado said the club's success in swiping bases comes mainly from talented players employing a good process, not from a rule.

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O's game blog: Looking for a series win in the Bronx

odor after walk-off black

It is time for an Orioles impressive stat alert: They are 5-1 in rubber match games this year, winning five in a row since a loss to Milwaukee early in the year.

They have won those games by scores of 5-0 over the New York Yankees, 9-5 over Boston, 6-1 against Kansas City, 3-2 at St. Louis and 7-6 in 11 innings over the Tampa Bay Rays.

So, five wins in a row by a combined score of 30-14 in series-deciding games. The Orioles (18-26) will try to keep that win streak going tonight at New York. A win would make them 2-2 in four series versus the Yankees, who are 10-2-1 in overall series play in 2022. 

The Orioles beat the Yankees and Gerrit Cole by 6-4 Monday night as Cole allowed a season-high five runs. They lost 7-6 in 11 innings last night, playing their third extra-inning game in five games.

Baltimore is now 4-2 the last six games and 4-1 in extra innings. The O's are 12-12 their past 24 games and 6-15 in road games. The Orioles are 4-8 versus the Yankees (1-7 on the road) and 8-13 in American League East games (1-7 on the road).

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O's game blog: Bruce Zimmermann faces the Yankees

Bruce Zimmermann gray

The Orioles were behind 2-0 in the early innings and took a 4-2 lead. They were tied at 4-4 but then took a 5-4 lead. And then 6-4. And they won the series opener at Yankee Stadium by that 6-4 score in a strong start to a week-long American League East road trip to New York and Boston.

Ramón Urías hit a go-ahead homer off losing pitcher Gerrit Cole in the top of the sixth inning. It was No. 3 for Urías, who is 6-for-13 his past three games with a double and a homer, and who has hit two homers his last six games.

Trey Mancini went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and leads the Orioles with 15 multi-hit games. Mancini owns a season-long 17-game on-base streak, the fourth-longest active streak in the AL and tied for the eighth-longest active stretch in the major leagues.

In the month of May, Mancini is batting .382/.460/.474 (29-for-76) and ranks among AL leaders in on-base percentage (4th), hits (T-4th), and batting average (6th). For his career, Mancini owns a line of .286/.358/.460 with 40 extra-base hits (20-2Bs, 3B, 19 HRs), 60 runs scored, and 67 RBIs in 122 May games.

Robinson Chirinos has four RBIs his last four games and after producing just one in the previous 18 games.

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O's game blog: O's and Rays in series and homestand finale

Adley Rutschman black BP watch

The Orioles have a rubber match coming up this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays. The teams have split two games in the series, with the Orioles winning 8-6 in 13 innings Friday night and the Rays winning 6-1 on Saturday night.

The Orioles (16-25) are 4-1 in rubber match games this season, 3-1 at home and 2-0 when the opponent is from the American League East. They have won such games against the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals and Cardinals and lost at home versus Milwaukee.

The O’s have now lost four of six games on the homestand that ends today. Over longer stretches, they have lost seven of nine and eight of their past 11 games. The O’s had scored 17 runs Thursday and Friday in posting back-to-back walk-off wins, but were held to just one run and six hits last night in the second game of the series.

O’s pitching has allowed 32 runs and 10 homers during this homestand, and 18 runs over the past three games. O’s starters have pitched to a 6.40 ERA over the last 11 games. But the Baltimore bullpen, which has a 3.22 ERA of for the year to rank fourth-best in the AL, has pitched to an ERA of 2.05 over the last 17 games.

Catcher Adley Rutschman made his big league debut Saturday as the starting catcher, batting sixth. He finished the night 1-for-3 with a triple, a walk and a strikeout. Rutschman tripled in the seventh inning for his first career hit, becoming the ninth Oriole to triple in his first career hit, and the first since Ryan McKenna on April 11, 2021 against Boston. Rutschman is the first Orioles catcher to do so since Matt Wieters on May 30, 2009 against Detroit.

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Rutschman arrives and the future is now

rutschman gear w ump white

Adley Rutschman’s first day in the major leagues did not lead to an Orioles win. They lost 6-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays to fall to 2-4 on this homestand and 16-25 on the season.

But one game is not as important as what Rutschman's arrival represents. The rebuild no longer is inching forward but taking a big leap. With more prospects and more such leaps still to come. Between the Orioles and the top of the American League East is a big gap. But the hope across Birdland is that that gap is starting to close, and yesterday was the latest and maybe greatest step forward.

“Somebody that Mike (Elias) took 1/1 and we have high hopes for,” manager Brandon Hyde said before Rutschman’s Saturday night debut. “So much pressure put on him and there is so much anticipation that I want him to relax and play the game like he did in high school. I understand that is not realistic, but I want him to enjoy today with all the hoopla that is going into it. It’s a day he’ll never forget.

“I think the fans are going to embrace how he plays, how hard he plays. His personality. What kind of guy he is and he’s going to be a good player. Whether that is going to showcase tonight or this week, who knows? But he’s going to be a good player for a long time.”

And hopefully this arrival – the first of a few for top Baltimore prospects this year – means the organization will now be more consistently trending up. It may not be a straight line headed for the top, but the Orioles hope they are moving in the right direction now.

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O's game blog: The Tampa Bay series begins


After producing the walk-off win Thursday afternoon against the New York Yankees, the Orioles host the Tampa Bay Rays today in the opener of a three-game series and continuation of a seven-game homestand.

After back-to-back one-run losses to New York, the Orioles (15-24) salvaged the series finale Thursday 9-6 on Anthony Santander’s three-run shot. It was his seventh homer of the season and first career walk-off hit.

The game marked the first walk-off home run by an Oriole since Rio Ruiz hit a game-ending longball off Roberto Osuna on Aug. 11, 2019, versus Houston. It was the Baltimore’s third walk-off victory of the season, with all three coming against American League East foes - two against the Yankees and one against the Red Sox.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Santander, with two doubles a homer in that game, is the third Oriole to record three extra-base hits, including a walk-off home run, in a single game, joining Randy Milligan (2-2B, HR) on June 12, 1990, against Milwaukee and Manny Machado (3 HRs) on Aug. 18, 2017, versus the Los Angeles Angels. And Santander is the first major league player to record such a game since Alex Verdugo (2-2B, HR) did so with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 22, 2019, versus Colorado.

In the month of May, Trey Mancini has batted .377/.441/.492 (23-for-61) and ranks among AL leaders in OBP (2nd), batting average (4th), and hits (T-5th). For his career, Mancini owns a line of .282/.352/.462 with 40 extra-base hits, 60 runs scored and 65 RBIs in 118 May games. Mancini has hit safely in 14 of 16 games this month, including producing multiple hits in seven of them, and on the season, he leads the team and ranks tied for sixth in the AL with 12 multi-hit games.

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