The Orioles began their homestand last night without a single roster move.
Didn’t need to replace an injured player whose day-to-day status grew too long. Didn’t select the contract of baseball’s No. 1 prospect.
Austin Hays took coach’s batting practice, but only the shadow of Adley Rutschman could keep fans from seeing the importance of that update.
The Triple-A Norfolk Tides were off yesterday. Rutschman didn’t hop on a flight to Baltimore.
The Orioles never circled that date or any other on the calendar. Some media did. Some fans did. The opening game of a homestand seemed to make sense.
Rutschman is 6-for-31 (.194) in nine games with Norfolk. He’s caught in back-to-back games, but only once. And only two games. Not three or more, which seems important to the organization.
The right triceps is fine, but the Orioles believe it’s wrong to move up a top prospect just to satisfy a need on the roster, so don’t link him to what’s happening with Hays, Ryan Mountcastle or anyone else. Separate topics entirely.
Three runs scored in Detroit? Sixteen strikeouts in the last game? Won’t change how the Orioles are handling him.
And there are no assurances that the debut is happening in Baltimore. Many of us – most of us – have been guilty of making that assumption, but don’t do it. Just in case.
The Orioles conclude their homestand with a weekend series against the Rays and travel to New York and Boston for an eight-game set, the last five at Fenway Park. They’re off on May 26.
The next home game is May 31 against the Mariners.
No one knows when Rutschman is packing his bags and leaving behind the long bus rides and cheap postgame spreads. If the Orioles don’t, how can any of us?
* Orioles catchers began last night batting a combined .135 with one home run, five RBIs and a .463 OPS. Robinson Chirinos struck out twice and flied out, lowering the average to .134 and OPS to .459.
One reason why the Orioles don’t say much publicly about Rutschman’s pending arrival is because it directly impacts one of those catchers.
Chirinos is past the point in his career when he can be optioned. Anthony Bemboom is out of options.
They’ve combined to throw out 9 of 19 runners attempting to steal. Chirinos is 6-for-11. And manager Brandon Hyde has credited them on numerous occasions for improvements in the rotation and bullpen, how they handle a staff and their overall work behind the plate.
“I think we have catchers here that can help guys get through innings that are inexperienced,” Hyde said yesterday. “I think that’s been huge.”
* Keegan Akin keeps excelling in his relief role, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings last night with one hit allowed to lower his ERA to 1.46.
Akin has worked two or more innings in his first 10 outings, joining Jimmy Haynes in 1996 as the only Orioles relievers to reach that number. He’s the first Orioles pitcher with at least 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief since Travis Lakins, Sr. on June 24, 2021 in Toronto, and he’s only the third to do so since the start of 2019.
“That was a huge pickup by Keegan Akin tonight, once again,” Hyde said.
“Fun to watch him right now. The tempo on the mound, his fastball’s gotten better, he’s got more velocity on his fastball. His slider and his changeup have improved. He’s pitching with so much confidence right now. That’s a really good lineup that he went 3 2/3, didn’t give up a run, punched out three. He’s doing a great job.”
* Rylan Bannon started at third base again and went 0-for-2 with a hit by pitch. He also made a couple nice plays in the field and handled everything hit at him.
Bannon has made three starts at third and one as the designated hitter since joining the team in St. Louis. He’s made 121 starts at second base in the minors, 11 at Xavier University and two in the Arizona Fall League, and Hyde could give him a shot in the major league lineup.
“He might get a look at second,” Hyde said. “I’m just putting him in the lineup. We trying to find out about a lot of our 40-man guys. … Trying to see what they can do up here.”