O’s had some ups and downs in the first half of the season

The Orioles reached the midpoint of this truncated 60-game season by going 14-16. So close to pulling out another win last night, one that would have left them at .500 at the 30-game point.

They were certainly streaky in this span of games. They have had a six-game winning streak and a six-game losing streak. They swept three series, something they did not do once in 162 games last year, and they’ve been swept in three series. So six sweeps in the first nine series. And the Rays have won the first two of the current series.

The Orioles offense has been improved overall, but it has recently gone through a rough stretch. Through 20, games the O’s averaged 5.35 runs per game and were 12-8. In the last 10 games, they’ve scored 3.7 runs per game, going 2-8.

The club just could not overcome the most recent injuries to José Iglesias, Austin Hays and Pedro Severino. They could use one or all in the lineup soon and they should be getting Iglesias and Severino back in the next few days. They will provide a boost.

Scott-Pitch-Gray-sidebar.jpgThe bullpen has improved. Tanner Scott looked great and so did Miguel Castro, but both have struggled lately. What should the O’s do about that? Keep giving them the ball to see if they find their previous form and can work their way through it. It’s part of the continuing evaluation of players to see who should be a part of the team’s long-term future.

The Orioles have provided some reasons for hope in the first half. And coupled with upgrades and improvement in other aspects of the organization - like on the international front and in the implementation of data, technology and analytics - there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

O’s could soon see flame-throwing youngster: Right-hander Hunter Harvey is one of seven pitchers on the Orioles injured list. He’s been dealing with a right forearm strain but is expected to join the O’s active roster very soon. He is with the club in Florida and should be activated during this trip.

An improved Baltimore bullpen will certainly welcome Harvey as another quality arm. In 6 1/3 innings with the club late last year, he allowed three hits and one run with four walks to 11 strikeouts. Recalled Aug. 17 from Triple-A Norfolk, 11 of the 17 outs he recorded were via a strikeout. In his last 14 games of 2019 between Norfolk and Baltimore, he pitched to an ERA of 1.17 with four walks and 26 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings.

Harvey has been rehabbing at the Bowie alternate site. He admits that pitching there is not quite like pitching in a minor league or major league game. Pitchers can try to simulate the adrenaline and intensity of a big league game there, but that seems very hard to do.

“It’s a lot different,” said Harvey. “I wouldn’t know how to explain it. Everyone is trying their best to make it game-like and they’re doing a good job there to try and make it game-like. They’ve got the crowd noise. They’re trying their best and it’s difficult with everything going on. It’s tough but guys are definitely pushing through it.”

By the way, it’s not greatly different in a big league stadium right now. Here is what the Nationals’ Eric Thames told The Washington Post.

“You have to keep in your mind: it’s not a practice game,” said Thames. “It counts. People are watching (on television) all over the world. (But) in terms of energy, it’s definitely not good.”

Harvey, meanwhile, gave a nice report on the O’s two top-rated pitching prospects that are in Bowie in right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and lefty DL Hall.

“I talk with DL Hall a lot of every day. He’s got some electric stuff, it’s crazy. He’s got a big arm. He’s got a bright future and obviously with Grayson Rodriguez, he’s just all around a great pitcher,” Harvey said. “They’re going to be really good. We’ve got some great arms down there and we’ve got some good players. It’s exciting to see what is going to happen. They are doing a great job there developing guys.”

During a spring training interview in Florida, Hall told me how last year was a big year for his pitching development. Click here to read that.

Three games are postponed: The Orioles and Rays chose to play last night, while three other Major League Baseball games were postponed to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. The postponed games were Cincinnati at Milwaukee, Seattle at San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco. Some individual players chose not to play while their teams did. After last night’s game, players from both the Orioles and Rays said they were not sure if tonight’s game would be played.

Said O’s manager Brandon Hyde after Wednesday’s game: “The 6:40 start when everything was kind of breaking, 25 minutes, maybe, before the game, and we had players already out on the field when we were hearing about what was going on around the league with the Reds’ and the Brewers’ situation, it was fairly close to game time and Asher (Wojciechowski) was already on the field.

“I met with our African-American players as well as people who travel with us and we discussed. I wanted to hear their thoughts, and we discussed briefly just because Cedric (Mullins) was one of them and he was leading off the game and we had about 12 minutes before game. But we did talk about it a little bit in a small group.”

Click here for more of the postgame quotes from last night.

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