NEW YORK - The release of the 2020 schedule seemed to come a bit earlier than usual and held a couple of interesting nuggets for the Orioles, including the home-and-home series against the Cubs.
Manager Brandon Hyde goes back to Wrigley Field, where he served in a coaching capacity and can share countless stories. The dugout will be crowded for the pregame media sessions.
I’m particularly fond of the three off-days on Fridays and a weekend two-game series against the Nationals instead of the usual mid-week affairs.
You already knew that the Aug. 23 game against the Red Sox will be played in Williamsport, Pa. Twitter was full of predictable Little League “jokes.”
The Orioles don’t make their first trip to Boston until July, which is highly unusual. I thought it was some sort of law that they had to be the opponent on Patriots’ Day.
The second trip to Boston also is in July. No sense spreading them out.
I’ll vow to maintain my streak of staying out of Toronto unless it’s a wild card game. Like the city, hate the process getting in and out of it.
The Orioles somehow have been denied a trip to St. Louis since 2003 at the old Busch Stadium. Mike Hargrove was the manager and Mike Flanagan the general manager. They went 71-91 that season, but there was a 1-1, five-inning tie with the Yankees on Sept. 18 at Camden Yards.
The starting time of the game was moved up due to Hurricane Isabel and resumed as part of a doubleheader in New York, a most unusual occurrence and one that infuriated the Yankees.
Luis Matos drove in the Orioles’ run off Mike Mussina, who was denied his 200th career win. Robert Machado caught Pat Hentgen and Pedro Swan played left field - and not flawlessly.
The series in St. Louis, meanwhile, didn’t include me. I’ve never been to that city.
The Orioles lost two of the three games, with Sidney Ponson going the distance on June 7 in an 8-1 victory. Former Oriole Garrett Stephenson served up four home runs, including two to Deivi Cruz.
Anyone remember it?
(Stephenson and Calvin Maduro, now an Orioles international scout, were the players to be named later in a trade with the Phillies for Pete Incaviglia and Todd Zeile. He was traded to the Cardinals in 2008).
Jorge Julio and Travis Driskill were the losing pitchers for the Orioles in the other two games. Former Oriole Esteban Yan earned the win in the opener after Julio blew the save. Driskill replaced starter Jason Johnson in the third game and allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Rule 5 pick Jose Morban pinch-hit for Johnson and struck out. I mention this only to invoke the name of Jose Morban.
* Rio Ruiz didn’t break out any dad jokes yesterday, at least that he shared with the media, and he didn’t show off his dad strength.
The home run streak ended at two games, less than 24 hours apart, including Sunday afternoon’s walk-off against the Astros. But he did contribute an RBI grounder, two-run single and walk in the nightcap of yesterday’s doubleheader.
Ruiz was optioned on July 24 and didn’t return to the Orioles until Friday. He was able to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, a son, but the pending arrival of Luca James didn’t influence the roster decision.
An average in the .230s got Ruiz sent to the minors, though placing him at Double-A Bowie kept him closer to his family. It’s incorrect to think that the demotion was based on anything besides performance, from what I’ve heard.
If there’s a silver lining beyond Ruiz being with his wife for the birth, it’s how he impressed the Orioles with his patience while they passed him over for other players. He handled the situation in a way that masked his disappointment at leaving the team.
“Great attitude. Great kid,” Hyde said before the opener of the doubleheader.
“Rio’s just a quality person and obviously somebody you love to pull for. He’s done a great job defensively for us all year. Has gotten some big hits and got a couple home runs in his last couple games played, so love to see that power come through. You see it in BP. Would like to see it more in a game, and he’s done that recently. Just obviously a huge hit for him and for us.”
Ruiz didn’t just homer Sunday, he bounced the ball on Eutaw Street for the Orioles’ first walk-off win of the season.
“We’ve been waiting for one of those hits all year long,” Hyde said, “and to see him get it with his new dad strength was fantastic.”
Davis sat out the opener and was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the nightcap.
Since the dugout argument with Hyde, Davis has gone 1-for-12 with a double, RBI, walk and nine strikeouts.
* The short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds tossed a combined no-hitter last night in a 7-0 win in Vermont.
Adley Rutschman was behind the plate for it.
Jake Lyons, a 22nd rounder this year out of Oklahoma State, worked the first five innings. He walked one batter and struck out five.
James Ryan, signed as an undrafted player out of St. Katherine (Calif.) College, handled the next three innings. He walked none and struck out two.
Kyle Martin, a 15th rounder this year out of Fordham, struck out the side in the ninth.
Shepherd didn’t pitch the last time he came up. He’d be the 53rd player used if he gets in a game.
Shepherd was scheduled to start tonight for the Tides.