Can you believe that the Orioles just turned in back-to-back shutouts? I watched both games in their entirety and it’s still kind of hard for me to believe it. That’s how it is, though. They followed up their 7-0 in six innings win over Washington with a 4-0 victory over the White Sox on Thursday night, with Adley Rutschman providing three of the team’s four RBI.
The Orioles are now playing .500 baseball - 15-15 - since the callup of Rutschman. They are 32-39 on the season, which amounts to a full season pace of 73-89. As I noted on Twitter last night, not only are they not on pace to lose 100, they’re not even on pace to lose 90! We’ll see if that state of affairs can last. Thursday’s win also sets the Orioles up with an 11-9 June record. They need to go 3-3 over the next six games for the first winning month since August 2017.
In this space only yesterday I was writing about how there are fun things going on with this team, how this feels different from some recent Orioles teams. Yesterday’s win didn’t have anything quite so exciting as Austin Hays hitting for the cycle, but it did feature game-long amazing defense from the entire outfield - Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander. There were running catches, diving catches, and Hays throwing out another foolish runner.
During a ninth-inning pitching change, the broadcast came back from a commercial to a shot of those three outfielders standing together. MASN’s Kevin Brown proclaimed, “There are the Birdmen of the Apocalypse if you’re the White Sox tonight.”
The record isn’t there yet, but the trappings of a good team that’s winning are there for this team anyway. They’ve got the goofy Call of Duty binoculars thing. They’ve got the Home Run Chain. They’ve got the #1 prospect in baseball starting to live up to his reputation. And now, the outfield has a distinct, fun nickname: The Birdmen of the Apocalypse. (I’m well aware this name will probably not stick much farther than my being delighted by it after Brown said this last night.)
How long will these modestly acceptable times roll? The old Earl Weaver pearl of wisdom still applies: Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher. Turns out that’s going to be Austin Voth instead, with Kyle Bradish pushed back to Saturday. I don’t know why. I do know that it’s going to be a challenge for the Orioles to keep firing off stretches of .500 baseball unless the pitchers in the rotation either get better or get replaced.
Some among us may even dare hope for better than this, as the Orioles are 26-25 since April 29. Either way: Several starting rotation dudes must pitch better than they have. Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer are exempt from this commandment, but are welcome to pitch even better if they wish to do so.
The Orioles and White Sox continue their series at 8:10 tonight. Michael Kopech and his 2.38 ERA and 0.988 WHIP stand in the way of the Orioles potentially winning a third straight game and turning in a little winning streak. The team has yet to win more than three in a row this season. They never won more than three in a row last season either.
Around the blogO’sphere
Is Gunnar Henderson the best prospect left? (Baseball Prospectus, sub. required)
More and more people are noticing GUNNAR HENDERSON.
Notes on Odor, Watkins, Urías, Bannon and more (School of Roch)
Roch runs through a whole lot of updates from before yesterday’s game, including that Rougned Odor was out yesterday with back stiffness. Spenser Watkins was suggested as a possible Saturday starter, but now it turns out that’s going to be Bradish.
Each team’s best pick from the 2017 draft (MLB.com)
If you can believe it, the one listed for the Orioles is their first round pick from that draft, D.L. Hall. I hope we will see him in an Orioles uniform soon, though I continue to eye his 5.9 BB/9 at Norfolk nervously.
Ranking the top 12 position players who could be traded, with possible fits (The Athletic)
Jim Bowden, best known to this writer for the Ralph incident (Google it) and the time he said the Orioles should trade Kevin Gausman for Jeff Samardzija, suggests that Trey Mancini is one of the top trade candidates, with the Padres, Brewers, Mariners, and Rays as possible fits.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
The last Orioles victory on this day came five years ago. The 2017 team beat the Rays, 8-3, in the first of what turned into a three-game winning streak that got the team back to a .500 record. Welington Castillo, Adam Jones, and Trey Mancini all homered and Dylan Bundy pitched seven innings with three runs allowed.
Out of all of the players to ever play for the Orioles, only one was born on this day. 1995 reliever Doug Jones picked up 22 saves for the club in his one season here. He passed away last year at the age of 64.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: psychologist Ernst Weber (1795), Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood (1942), actress Mindy Kaling (1979), and footballer Lionel Messi (1987).
On this day in history...
In 637, the High King of Ireland, Domnall II, led his army to victory over the Kings of Ulaidh (modern Ulster) and Dál Riata in the Battle of Moira. It’s thought to be the largest battle ever fought on the island of Ireland, possibly as many as 100,000 men involved on both sides.
In 1509, England’s Henry VIII and his wife, Catherine of Aragon, were crowned king and queen of England. And they lived happily ever after, right?
In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte’s army crossed the Neman river, officially marking the beginning of its invasion of Russia. And they lived happily ever after, right?
In 1948, the Soviet Union cut off the land route between West Germany and West Berlin, apparently hoping to drive out the American and British occupiers. Within two weeks, USAF and RAF planes were delivering a thousand tons of supplies by air daily.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on June 24. Have a safe Friday. Go O’s!