O’s pregame notes on strikeouts, the home opener and more

It’s too early in the new season to focus on trends that we are seeing on the field. But for the Orioles, the last three games have just featured too many strikeouts. They actually fanned 15 times when winning 11-3 Sunday at Boston. And then in two losses in New York there have been 27 strikeouts.

Through five games the O’s strikeout rate of 31.4 percent is tied with Seattle’s for the most in the American League.

“I’m going to give credit to Gerrit Cole last night,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said during his pregame Zoom press conference today. “He was really good. He’s at the top of our game on the pitching side. ... Just watching the replay of the game this morning, it’s easy to see why we punched out 13 times. He had four pitches going and throwing 101 miles per hour.

“I would like to see us start putting the ball in play more with two strikes. Cutting down on our swing. You know we have some big-swing guys, I think we’re headed in that direction. Kind of start out on the road, it’s been a little bit cold. I think that we’re going to get in a little better groove, offensively. But I do see us starting to battle more with two strikes and we’re going to have to start doing that going forward.”

The Orioles scored 18 runs in three games in Boston and were blanked their first 17 innings in the Bronx before Rio Ruiz hit a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth on Tuesday.

As he does often, Hyde watched a replay of last night’s game this morning.

“I always rewatch the game,” he said. “And I’ll watch some things a few times. I just watch our at-bats. I watch how our pitchers are throwing. The dugout view is one thing and then watching it on TV is another. Completely different. I just like to see it from the center field camera. Just how we are playing from that angle, I think, is important. Understanding the stuff that our pitchers had to locations, missed locations. Those type of things that it is hard to see from the dugout, side to side. Also, the view from center field for our hitters as well. Just like to rehash the game. Sometimes I do it the same night, the night of the game. More times than not I do it in the morning.”

All of the O’s traveling party, from coaches to players to staff, are looking forward to tomorrow’s home opener at 3:05 p.m. at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

“I think when you start the season it does feel like you haven’t been home in a long time. And, I’m just looking forward to Camden Yards and having fans there,” said Hyde. “Having people in the seats and having our players experience fans in the stands again at home. It’s been awhile. I know everyone is looking forward to that. In our clubhouse everyone is looking forward to opening day at home and having people there, which we haven’t seen since ‘19.

“Everybody is just excited to go home and to experience the home crowd. Camden Yards is extremely special, and we haven’t played in front of fans at home in a while. So, for all the new, young guys that haven’t experienced a home opener before, it’s going to be a special experience for them. Yeah, I just want them to soak it in and relax. Have fun and enjoy it.”

Thumbnail image for Stewart-Swinging-White-Sidebar.jpgOutfielder DJ Stewart remains on the O’s injured list, out since April 1 with a left hamstring strain. He’s getting closer to being activated and making progress at the alternate site in Bowie.

“I’m not sure of the exact date, but yeah, he is getting close,” said Hyde.

Hyde also provided an update on lefty Keegan Akin, who struggled in spring, lost out on a rotation spot and now is trying to work his way back to the roster.

“Sounds like he’s throwing the ball well,” Hyde said. “Actually saw him throw one time before we left for Boston. And he threw the ball extremely well before we got on the plane to Boston. He’s progressing. He’s working on his command. He’s working on the things we talked about when we sent him out, and he’s doing a good job with it. So, heading in the right direction.”

O’s center fielder Cedric Mullins is second in the majors in batting at .524 (11-for-21). He has three doubles and has scored four runs. Mullins has hit safely in each game of the season and is 4-for-5 when leading off the game, with three singles and a double.

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