Series win over Boston, Grayson Rodriguez’s latest honor, Elias’ presser

Before their win last night, the Orioles had just two American League East series wins this year, and none at home.

Then left-hander Alexander Wells held Boston to one run over six innings as the Orioles won 6-2 to take two of three from the Red Sox. The loss left Boston at 89-70 and tied with Seattle for the No. 2 AL wild card. Those two teams are one game ahead of Toronto (88-71), which hosts the Orioles tonight.

Alexander-Wells-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgThe O’s are on a bit on a pitching roll as this season winds down. They have allowed two earned runs or fewer six times the past 10 games with a team ERA of 3.11 in the 10 games, going 5-5.

O’s starters in the 10 games have a 1.96 ERA, allowing one earned run or none eight times. Now that does include a one-inning start as an opener and shorter outings from Chris Ellis and Bruce Zimmermann in this stretch.

In the Boston series, Zimmermann, Zac Lowther and Wells combined to allow three earned runs over 15 innings, an ERA of 1.80.

O’s pitchers allowed 10 runs in three games versus Boston after giving up 17 in four games against Texas and seven in a three-game series at Philadelphia that preceded that.

The Orioles concluded a 4-3 homestand last night and finished with a 27-54 home record. They went 5-3 their last eight home games and 10-13 in the last 23.

More hardware for Rodriguez: More honors are rolling in for baseball’s No. 1 pitching prospect, O’s right-hander Grayson Rodriguez. He was named last night as MLBPipeline.com’s Pitching Prospect of the Year.

A few days ago he was named the Jim Palmer Award winner as the Orioles’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. This season he went 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA over two levels. Over 103 regular season innings between high Single-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie, he allowed 58 hits, including 10 homers, with 27 walks, 161 strikeouts, a .159 batting average against and 0.83 WHIP.

“You know I was extremely excited,” Rodriguez said this week about his O’s award when he was at Camden Yards. “Obviously, anything with Jim Palmer’s name on it is a pretty high achievement. Being able to share that award in 2019 with Mike Baumann was pretty special. Especially after my first full season. And this year again, you know, getting the award alone, that’s really special to me.”

O’s director of player development Matt Blood talked about Rodriguez in this article on MLBPipeline.com.

“We’re really happy with Grayson’s performance this year and the progress he showed developmentally,” Blood said. “He’s a very focused, determined and competitive person. He takes his work very seriously. He takes his health very seriously, and I think we saw the fruits of that effort play out this year by the fact he was able to pitch the whole season and make improvements in his effectiveness and essentially dominate all year. From our standpoint, it was exciting to see, and he’s platforming himself well for the future.”

In his press conference with reporters before yesterday’s game, O’s executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias reiterated again that he is open to both Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman beginning next season with the Orioles.

“I think, on TV the other day, I mentioned they will be at spring training, (and) unless something happens, that is almost certain to be the case,” stated Elias. “And once you are in major league spring training, you’ve got a chance to show your stuff and make the team. And I think, first and foremost, we’re going to have to see how that goes. But both players had spectacular years.

“Grayson has not pitched in Triple-A yet. I don’t think it’s 100 percent necessary to pitch in Triple-A, so that doesn’t preclude anything. But, you know, that’s going to be a consideration. And Adley has spent a short amount of time as well, and played very well there. So we’re just going to consider all factors. We’re not there yet, we’re a long way from the end of spring training. But I just kind of hope they pick up where they left off.”

That draft pick, though: With a walk-off loss to San Francisco in a game that ended very early this morning, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ record falls to 50-109, with the Orioles at 52-107. Arizona hosts the Colorado Rockies (73-85) this weekend.

So Arizona is getting closer to wrapping up the No. 1 draft pick, leaving the Orioles to pick No. 2. If the teams’ records are tied after 162 games, the tiebreaker is record from the previous year. There is a tie there also with both the Orioles and Arizona going 25-35 in 2020. So going back one year further, the 2019 Orioles were 54-108 to Arizona’s 85-77, giving the O’s the No. 1 selection.

I asked Elias during his presser if there is a big difference between picking first or second?

“I don’t worry about that at all,” he said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of these. You just don’t know what’s out there. Crazy stuff happens. We want to finish as strong as we can possibly finish. I think we take a lot of pride in giving some of these teams fits down the stretch. We were seeing a lot of stuff on the 2011 team recently, and people remember that and it’s good for the team and the players, and that’s our focus right now.

“But we’re going to have a high pick. I think we might even know we’re getting the top two already, and so we have a list of players, we’re preparing for that. We’re not worried about it. We picked fifth last year because of the shortened season, and I think we got a terrific player (Colton Cowser). The draft’s very fickle and I’m humble about the draft, and wherever we end up picking, we’ll pick. And hopefully do well.”

For more of Elias’ comments during his season-ending press conference on Thursday, click here.

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