Taking more inventory before Orioles open series in Kansas City

The Orioles moved past their off-day and are resuming their three-city road trip tonight in Kansas City. The last stop is in Atlanta.

They haven’t moved past the “soft” part of their schedule. The Royals are 7-22, the second-worst record in the majors. They’re in last place in the American League Central, with a minus-64 run differential in 29 games and a 1-12 record at home.

Can’t let down against anyone, but the Royals are scuffling with 13 losses in their last 16 games.

The teams met seven times last summer, with the Orioles going 4-3. They split a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The Orioles are 128-128 all-time against the Royals in Kansas City, with their last three-game sweep in 2007.

Tonight begins the quest for a seventh consecutive series win. The club record is nine in a row in 1968 per STATS.

The 2014, 1993 and 1979 teams won eight straight series. The 1986, 1984, 1981, 1979 and 1977 teams won seven in a row.

The 2023 Orioles are tied with the 1982, 1980, 1974, 1973, 1970, 1966, 1963 and 1960 editions.

The major league record is held by the 2001 Mariners with 15.

“Just try to go game-to-game, series-to-series,” said manager Brandon Hyde, “and we've done a great job with that.”

What else have they done? Plenty to build a 19-9 record and set the franchise record for most wins in April.

Let’s stay with yesterday’s theme of taking early inventory. Here are a few more thoughts and observations:

* Cedric Mullins is settling further down the order versus left-handers.

Mullins has led off in 19 games, his usual spot, but he’s also batted ninth four times, seventh two times and eighth once.

The plummeting began in 2022, when Mullins slashed .209/.265/.313 against lefties. He’s 10-for-36 (.278) this season with three doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBIs. He’s drawn six walks and struck out five times.

Austin Hays and his right-handed bat have been atop the order in eight games, and he’s slashed .313/.389/.469. Ramón Urías led off in Boston on April 1 and went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

* A batter won’t reach base against Yennier Cano unless he’s drilled.

I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m convinced. Cano is untouchable.

OK, I guess he’s bound to give up a hit or walk a batter. But man, how anyone puts the barrel on the ball against him is a mystery.

We’re still waiting for it to happen.

Seriously. Baseball Savant has his barrel percentage at 0.0.

Opponents are 0-for-32 with a hit by pitch. Justin Turner has the elbow bruise to prove it.

The sinker and changeup - 52.9 whiff percentage - have become elite. He’s a one-month All-Star, if such a thing existed.

Who’s the one-month Most Valuable Oriole, Cano or Jorge Mateo?

Cano has struck out 12 in 11 innings. He’s registered two saves. He’s straddling the mound and daring opponents to get in a staring contest with him.

Don’t bet against him in anything.

* Keegan Akin could be vulnerable but we don’t know.

Akin might have displayed the best stuff in spring training. Hyde said as much.

The regular season numbers don’t favor him. Akin has appeared in 10 games and posted an 8.10 ERA and 1.950 WHIP in 6 2/3 innings. Six earned runs, nine hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.

Now, dig around a little.

Akin has been scored upon in only three of his 10 outings. But Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader in Detroit is fresh in the mind, when he didn’t retire any of the three batters faced.

Hyde wanted to stay away from Bryan Baker and Félix Bautista but had to use them both after Mike Baumann replaced Akin and surrendered a three-run homer to former Orioles infielder Tyler Nevin, who was optioned afterward. Bautista wasn’t available Sunday because he had to close the previous night.

After Game 2, Hyde said that he would have been happier with the outcome if the Orioles didn't blow a 6-0 lead. It only got down to 6-4, but his point was clear.

The Orioles need to make room in the bullpen when Dillon Tate and Mychal Givens are ready. Akin has an option but he also provides length and is a third left-hander, if that’s important. And the overall numbers look worse to me than how he’s thrown.

An interesting sidenote: Left-handed hitters are 6-for-17 against him. They’re batting .247/.292/.346 during his career.

* The Orioles still know how to party.

They lost a lot of energy and creative celebrating with Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos, but light shows and loud music are still present in the clubhouse after wins. A nightclub vibe.

Ketchup, mustard and other condiments are used as hair products on teammates who achieve milestones, like a first major league win or whatever. The home clubhouse rug had a noticeable stain in front of a locker after one game, as if a dessert item was used for something besides the final course. Hyde and some players could be heard all the way down the hallway Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park, their voices carrying like a fly ball in thin air.

Winning is fun. Write it down.

* Adley Rutschman steals strikes the way Mateo and Mullins steal bases.

Rutschman did it again Sunday. Detroit’s Matt Vierling struck out looking as Danny Coulombe’s final batter in the eighth inning. Cano replaced the left-hander for the four-out save.

A slider was pulled back into the zone. Replays don’t necessarily confirm that it was a strike, but Rutschman already is developing a reputation.

If the ball’s in his mitt and it’s close, yeah, probably a strike. And he absolutely did Coulombe a huge favor.

* Jackson Holliday is on track to finish the season at Double-A Bowie.

This one isn’t directly associated with the Orioles. Holliday is three levels below them. But it used to be four.

Holliday has set a goal of reaching Bowie this summer and it’s likely to happen after he spent only 13 games in low Single-A Delmarva, where he hit .392/.523/.667 (20-for-51) with six doubles, a triple, two home runs, 15 RBIs, 14 walks and 12 strikeouts.

To say this kid is legit is like calling Hawaii a legit vacation spot. Holliday is the real deal, a smart pick at one/one with so many appealing options. And he’s only 19.

Many prospects experience a dip in their stats after moving up to High-A Aberdeen. The hits dry up. Gunnar Henderson can speak from experience, starting out 1-for-31.

Holliday is 4-for-17 with a triple, home run and four walks. He has a .381 on-base percentage and .529 slugging percentage in five games.

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