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Thursday Bird Droppings: The journey back to .500 hits a bump

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The Orioles were on the way back to .500 and then their bullpen blew up a bit. Today, the Yankees loom.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

There have been some fun Orioles games lately. Last night’s was not one of them. With an early 5-1 lead and a chance to pull into one of the American League playoff spots with a win, the O’s bullpen ended up blowing it. They ended up losing ground in the playoff chase as well, as the Yankees beat the Blue Jays to go back 1.5 games up on the Orioles.

The game turned on Mets right fielder Michael Conforto making an amazing catch on a bases loaded line drive hit by Rio Ruiz, ending the inning instead of three Orioles runs scoring. In the next half-inning, Paul Fry gave up a game-tying solo home run, and later, the first pitch Hunter Harvey threw turned into the game-losing home run for the Orioles.

This is one of those games where it’s a particular shame that it got away from the O’s. DJ Stewart had three hits, including a home run, and was on base five times. Ryan Mountcastle had four hits and was also on base five times. As a team, the O’s had ten hits through four innings as they bombed Rick Porcello out of the game pretty early on. These things did not end up carrying them to a victory.

That’s the way it goes. The Orioles are going to have to win some more than they lose here on out if they’re going to be more than just a “Oh, that’s kind of neat that they sucked a bit less than we thought” story in 2020.

Their second time seeing the Yankees this month, starting tonight, is going to be a crucial series. This is the team they’re chasing. The Yankees have played poorly lately. If the O’s win the series, they will be ahead of the Yankees. If the O’s lose the series, the nails will be in the coffin. If it’s a split, well, the suspense will roll on, just with less time for the O’s to make up ground. There are 18 games to play. When the O’s leave New York, there will be 14 to play.

Tonight’s 7:05 opener features a rematch of the same starting pitchers who were in action five days ago. Keegan Akin starts for the O’s, with Gerrit Cole going for the Yankees. Cole struck out ten batters in that game, though he was tagged with four unearned runs and took the loss. Akin will have to triumph over a Yankees lineup that just saw what he has to offer on Sunday.

There are, unexpectedly, September stakes for these Orioles, who would-be comedians were joking might not even win 10 games this year. They’ve already reached double that number. That’s fun because it means the game matters. The barb that comes with that fun is that it stinks even more when they lose. I prefer this feeling to the September question of when they will lose their 100th game.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles overhaul of pitching staff with young arms the ‘backbone’ of recent resurgence (Baltimore Sun)
If Akin, Dean Kremer, and John Means are going to keep pitching well, this team might end up getting somewhere positive. By the way, Tommy Milone has a 14.60 ERA with the Braves.

Michael Baumann shut down with elbow strain (The Athletic)
“Right elbow flexor strain” is not what you want to hear about a guy who is lined up for a possible near-future role with the Orioles. They say no surgery, but I’ve been doing this long enough to see flexor strain turn into eventual Tommy John more than once.

Alberto brings uplifting vibe on and off field (Orioles.com)
The Orioles nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award is one of those guys who seems like he has boundless energy.

Injury updates on Cobb, Hays, Armstrong (Baltimore Baseball)
Alex Cobb is the only one of these three guys who might be back in the next week or so.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

There are a pair of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2011 outfielder Matt Angle, and 2007-09 reliever Danys Baez.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: composer Henry Purcell (1659), voodoo legend Marie Laveau (1801), golfer Arnold Palmer (1929), former home run champion Roger Maris (1934), scientist Stephen Jay Gould (1941), movie man Chris Columbus (1958), author Alison Bechdel (1960), and baseball Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (1963).

On this day in history...

In 1547, the English defeated the Scottish in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. This was the last large-scale battle before their crowns were unified.

In 1813, the American fleet on Lake Erie defeated the British in the Battle of Put-in-Bay during the War of 1812. The commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, wrote the following to General and future president William Henry Harrison: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

In 1961, during a Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators were killed when his Ferrari crashed into the crowd.

In 1977, France executed convicted murderer Hamida Djandoubi by guillotine, the most recent use of that device in the country.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on September 10. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!