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Sunday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles quest for the 82nd win continues

The Orioles have four games left on the schedule. They only need to win one to reach the symbolically important #82.

Gunnar Henderson, wearing an orange Orioles uniform, sticks out his tongue in reaction to striking out
It was one of those days.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

Two Orioles quests continue today. The first is the quest for their 82nd win of the season. The second is the quest to avoid being the team that gives up the 62nd home run to Aaron Judge. One way or another, that second quest will end today. Either the O’s give up the dinger and it’s a failure, or they don’t and it’s going to be Texas’s problem in the final series of the season.

Even with my life’s experience priming me to expect astronomical levels of entitled whining from Yankees fans, I’ve still been flabbergasted by their attitude over the course of this series. The fans booing every time a pitch is called a ball is kind of funny. Booing while Félix Bautista was trying to walk off an injury on Friday night was not funny.

Also not funny is the attitude that comes across - you’ve seen it if you’ve had any Yankee fan’s or not-even-pretending-to-be-objective baseball media figure’s opinion come to your attention over the last couple of days - as if the Orioles have committed some great sin by not grooving a pitch right down Broadway for Judge to hit for #62. Yesterday’s game was only one more example.

It’s true that Judge walked twice in the game, and hit by a pitch while making no effort to avoid that outcome once. He also struck out twice! Aaron Judge saw a number of strikes from struggling Orioles pitchers yesterday, pitches that if he was really dialed in, maybe he would have hit for homers. He didn’t. That included swinging on a 3-0 count in a game where the Yankees led by 8 runs. He swung on the 3-1 count too, and the 3-2 count, that last one leading to a swing and a miss and a strikeout.

MASN’s Ben McDonald tweeted in reaction to some of that whining last night. His reply sums it up perfectly: “The Orioles don’t owe Aaron Judge or the Yankees a damn thing.” They sure don’t.

Judge might well get 62 today. Kyle Bradish has had some problems giving up home runs this year, although that’s been better since his late July return from the injured list. Or Bradish and relievers might choose to pitch around him, or the 1:35 game could end up being rained out, or the same cool conditions causing the potential rain could limit fly ball distance enough to cost him. Who knows! What I do know is I’ll be happy if Judge doesn’t do it today, so I hope he doesn’t do it today.

The Yankees are plugging in Chi Chi Gonzalez, owner of a career 5.72 ERA who has yet to even pitch in a game for New York this year, for the start, rather than have a pitcher they care about more deal with a potential delay. Gonzalez has already been dumped by three different organizations since the start of this season. We’ll see whether the O’s offense is up to rebounding from today’s lifeless effort to take care of business against a bad pitcher.

Around the blogO’sphere

Struggling now, what is outlook for O’s 2023 offense? (Steve Melewski)
Melewski envisions improvement from Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, and Cedric Mullins to help the offense next year, although these guys are all now hitting pretty close to their career numbers with 2022 performance, so I don’t feel like a boost from any one of them is guaranteed.

Gunnar Henderson is one of baseball’s most promising young hitters (FanGraphs)
Everyone reading these Bird Droppings already knew that. It never hurts to get a little outside validation of what we already believe.

As playoff push ends, Orioles savor turnaround for the ages: ‘We understand what it takes’ (The Baltimore Sun)
No surprise that all of the players involved are well aware that making the big leap this year isn’t going to mean a whole lot if they don’t follow up by doing even better next year.

Lyles: “I would love to come back here” (School of Roch)
I’ve been going back and forth for a couple of months on whether I’d like the Orioles to pick up the contract option for Jordan Lyles next year. His Friday outing was brilliant, but his overall season ERA+ of 91 is not. Lyles is in the top 10 among AL pitchers for innings pitched though, and that’s not nothing.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2014, the Orioles blew open Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tigers by scoring eight runs in the eighth inning, eventually winning 12-3 in a game that was started by Max Scherzer.

In 2016, the team clinched a wild card berth by beating the Yankees in the final game of the season, 5-2. Matt Wieters homered from both sides of the plate in what turned out to be his final regular season game for the team to help them to victory.

There are a pair of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2003 utility infielder Jose Morban, and 2007 four-game pitcher Victor Santos. Today is Santos’s 46th birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: slave rebellion leader Nat Turner (1800), Indian independence activist Mahatma Gandhi (1869), comedian/actor Groucho Marx (1890), novelist Graham Greene (1904), and singer-songwriter Sting (1951).

On this day in history...

In 1470, England’s king Edward IV fled his country for the Netherlands after a rebellion initiated by the Earl of Warwick, leading to the previously deposed king Henry VI going back on the throne. Edward returned six months later and defeated and killed Warwick in the Battle of Barnet.

In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, officially making him the first Black justice on the Court.

In 2002, the first of the D.C. sniper attacks took place. 55-year-old James Martin was shot and killed in a grocery store parking lot in Montgomery County.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on October 2. Have a safe Sunday. Go O’s!