Orioles manager Brandon Hyde keeps learning more about this year’s team as it moves through the summer months. He’s making new discoveries, including how it handles difficult situations. And he marvels at it.
Nothing seems to faze these guys. They just keep going forward.
With heads lowered and expectations set high.
“I think we’re a tough group,” Hyde said. “We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity. We’ve lost some guys with injuries, we lost a couple guys with trades, important pieces, and our guys continue to fight and win series, continue to show up to play every day and enjoy it.
“It’s a really fun group to be around.”
The energy level hasn’t dipped as the games pile up and the temperatures rise. There’s still the same hustle, the same aggression on the bases, the same diving attempts in the infield and outfield.
Austin Hays has developed a reputation for being in the top three among players with the dirtiest uniforms. He wears it with pride.
“Alan Mills, the (bullpen) coach who used to be here, used to joke around and say that I would find a way to get dirty in the bathtub,” he said. “It’s just something, I’ve always been that way. I think it’s the no (batting gloves). I always have clay on my hands, it finds its way on my pants, my jersey. I definitely make those guys (in the laundry room) put their work in, trying to get my jersey clean.”
* The celebration of the 30th anniversary of Camden Yards provided a nice reminder that Jay Gibbons still has arms that could squeeze the sap out of a maple tree, and that Ubaldo Jiménez started the game on Sept. 16, 2014 when the Orioles clinched the division for the first time in 17 years.
“It’s pretty special to be back here,” he said Friday afternoon. “This is the team that gave me an opportunity to see my dream come true when I signed as a free agent. We had really special moments, especially back in 2014, when we won the division.”
The Orioles didn’t get much of a return on their four-year, $50 million investment in Jiménez. He had a 5.22 ERA and 1.496 WHIP in 117 games, was moved to the bullpen, but was given the start on that special night that fans refer to as “clinchmas.”
What a celebration. Inside the clubhouse, and most fun, on the field for everyone to enjoy. It was perfect.
Jiménez, who lives in Miami, said he heard some news about this year’s team, including the 10-game winning streak.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I’m really happy for the city. They deserve to have a team they can cheer on and that they can expect to win. The young guys, they have a lot of energy, and you can see it every night. They’re playing hard. They don’t really care that they’re playing in one of the toughest divisions. They go out there and they’re winning, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Jiménez also started the first crowdless game ever played in the majors, on April 29, 2015. Also an 8-2 victory, same as the division clincher, but with a vastly different feel - the circumstances born from the civil unrest in the city following the death of Freddie Gray, who was critically injured while in police custody.
“It’s always nice to be part of history, but not that kind of history,” Jiménez said. “You never want to see that happen in a game, because it was a sad moment for the city of Baltimore. You just feel bad because we were part of this community. You got to see what they went through. It was sad, it was sad, and at that moment you didn’t think about, we’re going to miss a game, we’re going to miss two games. We didn’t think about the game, we were thinking about everything that people were going through.
“Hopefully, you never see that happen again.”
* Terrin Vavra’s run-scoring double Wednesday in Texas made him the first Orioles rookie with a go-ahead hit as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning or later since Hyun Soo Kim belted a two-run homer in the ninth inning on Sept. 28, 2016 in Toronto.
Ramón Urías was the last Orioles rookie to record a go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI in the eighth inning or later when he delivered a walk-off fielder's choice in the ninth on July 25, 2021 against the Nationals.
* The ceremonial first pitch prior to Monday night’s game against the Blue Jays is going to be a special one.
Joshua Thomas, 11, will handle the honors. He was born with a congenital heart defect and is being treated at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children's Center. He’s completed more than 100 activities and programs with the Casey Cares Foundation since joining in 2015.
Casey Cares Foundation has been providing uplifting programs to critically ill children and their families for longer than 20 years. To help them cope, manage and move forward.