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Thursday Bird Droppings: An Orioles off day to recover from an Orioles disaster

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After that game yesterday, we could all use a day off from the Orioles. The schedule is giving us one.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays
Sub-optimal fielding configuration on display here.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

Today is one of those days where it’s not a bad thing to have a day off from the 2021 Orioles. The team was oh-so-close to what might have been a feel-good win that would have sealed a winning road trip to start the second half of the season. Alexander Wells pitched decently in his first MLB start on short notice. Instead it all fell apart in spectacular fashion as the Orioles reminded us all of why it’s no accident that they have a .326 winning percentage.

Check out Andrea’s recap of the game for the not-so-lovely totals. All that had to happen was for Pat Valaika to not crash into Ryan Mountcastle while the two were chasing a blooper into short right field and the Orioles probably could have won the game. That’s it! Instead, the ball fell in and the O’s later lost on a walkoff two-run single. Even despite Valaika’s bumbling, Tanner Scott was one strike away from ending the game and he just couldn’t make the put-away pitch that mattered.

Tanking or not, it’s almost more difficult every day to keep watching this bumbling around at the second base position while knowing that there is a second base prospect at Norfolk, Jahmai Jones, who’s hitting decently. Perhaps Jones needs to “work on his defense” but it’s really difficult to imagine he could possibly be worse than Valaika right now, and at least if there are lessons to be learned it would feel like a player with upside is learning them instead of a guy who’s just not good and not really learning anything anyway.

What we get is this. A lot of the time, it stinks. If there is some other team out there that actually wants one of the Orioles players enough to offer a prospect package that Mike Elias likes between now and the July 30 deadline, then the already low level of talent on the team will get lower. A better future might be coming some day, but that some day doesn’t look like it’s going to start on August 1 or any day in the 2021 season. The good news is that with 95 games played, there are only 67 games left, and on their current pace the O’s could win 22 of them.

Even more fun (not fun at all) is that the Orioles may be in the middle of a little COVID-related chaos. Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rays, Keegan Akin and Anthony Santander were placed on the injured list due to COVID protocol. Akin was originally scheduled to start yesterday.

With the team having reached MLB’s 85% vaccinated threshold for relaxed guidelines, there’s less risk of an outbreak and less risk of severe symptoms for most players. We can hope that it doesn’t get any farther than Akin and Santander, but until everything shows up clean when the team reassembles for Friday’s opening game against the Nationals, it feels like any weird outcome may be possible.

If you have not yet gotten your full COVID vaccine protection, take action to protect yourself and others. If you live in Maryland, you can find out where to get the vaccine near you on the state’s website. Many pharmacies, urgent care locations, and primary care providers can give you the vaccine, possibly even as a walk-in. Every COVID death in Maryland in June was a person who had not been vaccinated, with 93% of hospitalizations being unvaccinated people.

Around the blogO’sphere

Midseason prospect rankings update (Fangraphs)
After a downer of a game yesterday, here’s some Adley Rutschman hype: “A switch-hitter his size, with his kind of rotational explosion, who has the bat-to-ball feel to switch which side of the cage he’s hitting in mid-batting practice session and just keep hitting bombs is not normal, and this is also an elite defensive catcher and locker room guy.” By the way, he hit a home run from each side of the plate last night.

Tanner Scott could be the Orioles ideal trade target (The Crawfish Boxes)
Our friends over at SB Nation’s Astros blog have set their sights on an Orioles reliever. I bet that Mike Elias could come up with some prospects you’ve never heard of in the Astros system who interest him.

How making big league debut is helping Orioles prospect Tyler Nevin develop (Press Box Online)
For some players, a carrot dangling in front of them in the form of a big league return after a cup of coffee is just the motivation they need.

After rocky ‘19, right-hander Blaine Knight gets back on track (Steve Melewski)
Blaine Knight is 25 and heading towards Rule 5 draft eligibility this offseason, so this is a good time to start impressing people.

Early mock: 2022’s top 20 draft prospects (MLB Pipeline)
The Elias drafting record doesn’t give much reason to believe he would take a high school pitcher with the #2 pick. But maybe the eventual Orioles underslot pick is a name that’s on this list already.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

The Orioles have not won a game played on July 22 since 2016, when they beat Cleveland, 5-1, to take a half-game lead in the AL East after 95 games. Mark Trumbo hit a three-run first inning home run. The O’s can’t break this streak today since they have the day off. Maybe next year.

One current Oriole has a birthday today. Happy 27th birthday to Tanner Scott. There are no former Orioles with birthdays today, although depending on how things shake out between now and the trade deadline eight days from now, Scott may be soon to be a former Oriole. Yesterday’s outing probably did not increase his chance to be traded by the end of the month. Or at least it didn’t increase the quality of prospects he might fetch.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: poet Emma Lazarus (1849), fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (1932), longtime Jeopardy host Alex Trebek (1940), The Eagles co-founder Don Henley (1947), actor David Spade (1964), and singer/actress Selena Gomez (1992).

On this day in history...

In 1456, John Hunyadi led the Hungarians to victory over the Ottoman Empire, breaking a siege of Belgrade after 18 days. The Ottomans did eventually capture Belgrade, but not until 1521. Hunyadi died of plague within a month of this victory.

In 1587, settlers arrived in Roanoke to establish an English colony. The 100+ colonists were gone when a supply ship returned in 1590; modern historical studies have never offered a conclusive explanation of just what happened to this Lost Colony.

In 1864, a Union army led by General Sherman routed a Confederate force in the Battle of Atlanta. The victory helped pave the way for the capture of Atlanta about six weeks later.

In 1933, Wiley Post landed a plane at New York City’s George Bennett Field. Post’s landing completed the world’s first solo flight around the world, taking a total of seven days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes to complete.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on July 22. Have a safe Thursday.