The go-go O's were on display in season opener (plus farm notes)

The Orioles stole five bases on Opening Day as the Red Sox battery, almost no matter who was pitching, was no match for their thievery.

They stole off catcher Reese McGuire and three different pitchers getting three bases while Ryan Brasier was on the mound and one each off Corey Kluber and Kaleb Ort.

We will see how the rest of the season goes, but for one day, they ran amok.

After the first day of the season, there were three players in the major leagues with two stolen bases each. The Orioles’ Cedric Mullins and Jorge Mateo, and Ji Hwan Bae of Pittsburgh.

And this was not all about the new rules either.

Not all teams were running like it was a track meet and not a baseball game. The O’s led baseball through the first day with the five steals but just three other teams – the Braves, Pirates and Yankees – had two steals each. The other 26 teams had one or less. There were 10 teams with one steal and 16 teams had no stolen bases on Opening Day.

The Orioles were the true outlier.

"When we have an opportunity to run, we're gonna run," manager Brandon Hyde said. "We have some guys that can run. We've got two of the better guys in baseball for me in Cedric and Jorgie. ... We like to be aggressive and we're going to be aggressive with the lead, for sure."

The go-go O’s.

Stealing five bases not only was far and away the best by any team on the first day of the new season, it was one of the best days stealing bases in Orioles club history. Topped just twice since 1954.

The Orioles' team record is seven steals in one game, on Aug. 28, 1986 in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Oakland. That is the only time in club history the Orioles stole that man. There is one game in O’s history with six steals and that was on June 11, 1996 at Detroit.

There are 21 games for the O’s all time with five steals or more, but just three since the 2012 season, so they are pretty rare. Those five-steal games were on July 25, 2019 at the Angels, June 24, 2022 at the White Sox and Thursday at Fenway Park.

Of the 15 games involving all 30 teams on Thursday, the clubs combined to steal 21-of-23 bases for a 91.3 success rate. On Opening Day in 2022, teams combined to steal 6-of-11 bases for 54.5 percent success.

In case anyone is wondering, the O’s single season team record for steals is 150 in 1976 when five O’s had 14 or more, led by Al Bumbry with 42, Reggie Jackson with 28 and Mark Belanger with 27.

Mateo led the American League with 35 steals last year and Mullins was next at 34. They both could get 50 or more this year with the new rules in place.

There have been just three 50-steal seasons in club history:

57 – Luis Aparicio in 1964
53 – Brady Anderson in 1992
50 – Brian Roberts in 2007

Updating Adley and other notes: After his first 15 major league games last year after he was called up in May, O's catcher Adley Rutschman was batting .143/.226/.196/.422 with no homers or RBIs.

In the 99 games since, through his five-hit season opener at Boston, he is batting .282/.391/.501/.893 with 34 doubles, 14 homers and 46 RBIs. And the Orioles are 58-41 (.586) in those games, which would produce 95 wins over a full year. 

The average time of game on Opening Day 2021, per Codify baseball on Twitter, was three hours and 32 minutes. It was three hours and 17 minutes last year. It was two hours and 45 minutes on Thursday.

The Orioles beat the Red Sox 10-9 on Opening Day. In the 70 season openers all-time in O's history, they have scored 10 or more runs seven times. Their most ever in an opener was 13 runs in 1982. They previously scored 10 runs in the opener in 1973, 1975, 1999, 2002 and 2009 before Thursday. 

Minor league notes: Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez made his season debut in Triple-A Norfolk's season opener at Durham last night. He struggled with his command again at times and threw 75 pitches over four innings. He allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) with four walks, two strikeouts and one homer. 

He got a no-decision in the Tides' 6-4 victory that ended Norfolk's 15-game Opening Day losing streak. It dated back 2007 - their first year as a Baltimore affiliate.

Connor Norby hit a three-run homer, Ryan O'Hearn singled in a run and Josh Lester hit a two-run homer as Norfolk got the victory. Kyle Dowdy was the winning pitcher and Joey Krehbiel got the last three outs to record a save.

Rodriguez will be followed in the Tides rotation by lefty Bruce Zimmermann today, Spenser Watkins tomorrow, DL Hall on Tuesday in their home opener and Drew Rom on Wednesday. The Tides also have Ryan Watson, Chris Vallimont and Noah Denoyer as length pitchers or pitchers they could use in piggyback situations with a starter.

Expect to see the minor league starters mostly going just four or five innings in their early-season starts.

Shortstop Joey Ortiz, the club's No. 8 prospect per, has returned from concussion protocol, but he and Lewin Díaz will not join Norfolk until their home opener on Tuesday. They both are finishing their preseason buildup this weekend in Florida.

On the Norfolk infield, expect to see Norby play a lot of second base with Ortiz often at shortstop. Jordan Westburg will move around between second, short and third. He and Norby may even see occasional games in the outfield. 

Norfolk's season-opening roster featured six players currently ranked in the Baseball America top 100 list. That is the most to start a year for the Tides since they had eight in 1995 as a Mets farm club. 

Via Twitter yesterday, I speculated that O's 2022 No. 1 pick Jackson Holliday would begin the season next week at Single-A Delmarva. He could move up fast and it may not be too long before he moves to High-A Aberdeen. But it looks like he's starting with Delmarva. Outfielder Heston Kjerstad is still expected to start at Double-A Bowie.

The rosters below Norfolk are still not released yet, but hopefully soon.

We could see tandem pitching, or piggyback pitching as some call it, in Bowie, Aberdeen and Delmarva often this year where essentially two starting pitchers or length pitchers both throw in the same game.

Orioles and Red Sox lineups
Checking out other items from Opening Day

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