Good morning, Birdland!
The Orioles are playing their best baseball of the year. Their .652 winning percentage in August is 12 points better than July, which was 102 points better than June. Every single month has seen the O’s improve over the previous month. And yet, the team is only half a game closer to a playoff spot than they were when August started.
When July came to a close, the O’s were 51-51, three games back of the Rays for the final wild card spot, with both the Guardians and White Sox in the way as well. Things have shifted a bit since then. The Rays are now in the top wild card spot. The Guardians now lead the AL Central, dropping the Twins into the thick of the wild card race. It hasn’t gone well for them. The O’s, meanwhile, now sit 2.5 games back of the final wild card spot, chasing down the Blue Jays and Mariners, who are tied in the standings.
With the Twins now five games back of a playoff spot, and the White Sox six games back, it is really up the Orioles to make this thing a fight down the stretch. This isn’t “play the spoiler” like it has been the last few seasons. These guys have a real shot. But they are going to need more games like Friday night.
Kyle Bradish was terrific. The rookie went eight innings and threw just 96 pitches. He relied on his wipeout slider all game, and kept the vaunted Astros lineup off-balance throughout the evening.
That allowed Brandon Hyde to give Félix Bautista a needed night off. It was a bit shaky with Cionel Pérez in the ninth, but he was able to hand things over to Dillon Tate and escape with a win. The ‘pen is still trying to find its way, and has felt one reliever short for a couple of weeks now. The eventual return of D.L. Hall should help sort things out.
And while the lineup only scored two runs, it is showing signs of life again. Kyle Stowers and Ramon Urías both had two hits. Austin Hays has hits in six of his last eight games. Rougned Odor had a double and a walk. There are going to be days where the top three (Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman, & Anthony Santander) struggle. The rest of the lineup needs to be able to produce on occasion, and perhaps things are turning around on that front.
The O’s go for their seventh series win of the month tonight. Dean Kremer is on the slab, and first pitch is 7:10 ET from Houston.
Before facing Orioles for first time, Astros’ Trey Mancini says he would ‘of course’ welcome return to Baltimore | The Baltimore Sun
There isn’t much here. What else is Mancini going to say in the moment? He may be the world’s nicest person! But the odds of him returning to the Orioles next year, even when considering what Mike Elias said at the time of the trade, seem remote. He is a first base/designated hitter type with close to no positional flexibility. Unless the team trades away Ryan Mountcastle during the winter, it wouldn’t make much sense to bring him back.
Leftovers for breakfast | Roch Kubatko
Jordan Lyles is the main topic this week, and you have to admit he has done a nice job this season. The veteran has devoured innings, and they have often been quality innings. He has allowed the most hits of any pitcher in baseball, but his home run rate is down. That has allowed him to be competitive just about every outing.
9 prospects who could help teams down the stretch | MLB.com
Oh look, another place on the internet that thinks GUNNAR HENDERSON would make a lot of sense on the Orioles roster right now. I have to say I agree! At least get him on the 40-man roster by the start of September.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
- Spenser Watkins turns 30. The righty came out of nowhere in 2021 to start 10 games for the Orioles as an aged rookie. He is back in 2022, and now apparently he’s good? Over 84 innings this year, Watkins has a 3.96 ERA, 101 ERA+, and 4.25 FIP.
- Jim Thome turns 52. The Hall of Famer wrapped up his 22-season career with a 28-game pit stop in Baltimore during the magical 2012 campaign. In that time he launched three home runs and gave Buck Showalter a valuable bench bat down the stretch.
This day in O’s history
1973 - The Orioles win their 14th straight game, a 6-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. It is the longest winning streak in the AL since 1960.
1999 - Harold Baines is traded from Baltimore to Cleveland in exchange for pitcher Juan Aracena and a player to be named later.