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Tuesday Bird Droppings: It’s the final week of the first half

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The Orioles have one more homestand to play before going their separate ways for the All-Star break.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles are back in Baltimore after a confusing 10-game road trip that included a shocking sweep of the Astros sandwiched between two ugly series losses to the Blue Jays and Angels. Tonight, they begin their final week of play of the first half, a six-game homestand against the Jays and White Sox that will lead up to the All-Star break.

A four-day rest next week (for everyone except All-Star Cedric Mullins and Home Run Derby participant Trey Mancini) will probably be a good thing for the woeful Orioles. It’ll certainly be a good thing for their fans, who are tired of watching uncompetitive baseball day in and day out. As the team slogs through the dog days of summer, piling up the losses, their roster seems to get thinner by the day. As of this writing, the O’s haven’t even announced a starting pitcher for tonight’s game.

The Birds are already 30 games under .500 as they open this homestand; they’ll likely head into the All-Star break even worse than that after this week’s matchups against two winning teams. They’re on pace to finish the season with a 52-110 record.

Maybe the O’s will surprise us over these next six games and finish the first half with some positive momentum, making us wish Orioles baseball weren’t being taken away from us next week. Stranger things have happened. But more likely, we’ll be ready to embrace those upcoming four days off with open arms.

Links

Connolly: 5-foot-8 Cedric Mullins reaches height of career with All-Star selection – The Athletic
I remember covering a Baysox playoff game two years ago where Mullins, who’d started that year with the Orioles, was playing for Bowie after being demoted two levels. I figured it might be the final highlight of his dwindling baseball career. I couldn’t be happier to have been completely wrong.

Mancini and Ristano paired again in Home Run Derby - School of Roch
Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve always felt there’s a lot more pressure on the Home Run Derby pitchers than there is on the hitters. Hopefully Trey Mancini’s good friend Chuck Ristano is up for the challenge.

Orioles look forward to draft - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Brad Ciolek, the O’s head of domestic scouting, discusses the Orioles’ approach for next week’s draft, but of course can only offer vague generalities. If you’re expecting him to blurt out something like, “We’re definitely taking Jack Leiter! Mark it down!”, you’re going to be disappointed.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 29th birthday to Manny Machado, the most talented player to make his way through Baltimore in the last couple of decades, if not longer. He’s currently in his third season of a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres, where he’s batting .264/.346/.482 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs but was snubbed from the National League All-Star team. Also born on this day were two early-era Orioles who are no longer with us: first baseman Frank Kellert (b. 1924, d. 1976) and Baltimore-born outfielder Barry Shetrone (b. 1938, d. 2001).

On this day in 1966, Boog Powell tied an American League record by collecting 11 RBIs in a doubleheader. In game one, he ripped a bases-loaded double and a sac fly for four ribbies during the Birds’ 11-0 romp of the Kansas City A’s, and in game two he drove in seven of the Orioles’ eight runs — thanks to a grand slam, an RBI double, and a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth — but the Orioles lost in extra innings, 9-8.

For some reason the Orioles love to play extra-inning games on July 6. In the last 21 years on this date, eight of their games have gone extras, most of which were losses. That included a 12-year span from 1999 through 2010 in which the O’s suffered five extra-inning defeats.

Still, they’ve had some dramatic victories, too, including a 2016 interleague game at Dodger Stadium that turned into a 14-inning, 5:26 marathon. Mark Trumbo bashed a pair of home runs, including one off former Oriole Bud Norris, but the teams were deadlocked at four until the top of the 14th, when Jonathan Schoop lashed a two-run double to put the O’s ahead. In the bottom half, the Dodgers loaded the bases but ran out of position players, forcing pitcher Chris Hatcher to bat, with Zack Britton retiring him for the final out. Britton was the last of six O’s relievers, who combined for nine scoreless innings in the game. Each team struck out 18 times.