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Friday Bird Droppings: The gauntlet begins for the Orioles

The O’s have taken care of business against inferior teams. Now the punishing stretch of the schedule begins.

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Baltimore Orioles v Kansas City Royals
McCann Hugs seem a little more awkward than Adley Hugs.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

In case you missed yesterday afternoon’s emotionally draining saga of a baseball game, the Orioles nearly collapsed to a horrific loss but instead rallied late for a nail-biting win, taking the rubber match against the Royals, 13-10. Check out my recap of the madcap contest that was equal parts infuriating and exhilarating.

With the victory, the Orioles notched their seventh straight series win, six of which have come against sub-.500 teams. They improved to 21-10 on the season, the third-best record in the majors. But the days of beating up on soft opponents are over. Now, things get real.

Starting tonight, the Orioles face as difficult a schedule as anyone in baseball, an unrelenting, weeks-long gauntlet of behemoth teams. Their next two series come against the only two teams in baseball better than the Birds: the Braves (22-10), who host them for three games in Atlanta this weekend, and the gargantuan Rays (26-6), who play three in Baltimore to start Monday’s 10-game homestand. Immediately after that, it’s the first-place Pirates (20-12), who just got swept in Tampa Bay but still hold MLB’s fourth-best record.

It doesn’t get much easier from there. The Orioles end the homestand with four against the Angels (18-14), then hit the road to face two AL East foes, the Blue Jays (18-14) and Yankees (17-15), before returning to Camden Yards to face the first-place Rangers (18-12). All told, the Orioles will spend the next 24 days playing 22 games against seven teams who are a combined 139-83 (.626 winning percentage). Whew.

The Orioles will need to bring their best for what’s about to happen. By the end of May, if we look back and the O’s have managed to hover around .500 for this unforgiving stretch, Orioles fans should be more than happy.


Big lead gets away, the game doesn’t: O’s rally late to beat K.C., take another series - Steve Melewski
Brandon Hyde compared the Orioles’ game yesterday to “going to the dentist.” That’s...kind of the perfect analogy, actually.

Q&A with Orioles’ Mike Baumann: On making the majors, relieving and choosing baseball - The Athletic
Not only does Mike Baumann have the same birthday as me, but I also learned in this interview that his dog has the same name as my daughter. I mean, we’re basically the same person.

How the Baltimore Orioles became a contender - ESPN
It’s always nice to get some national media attention, and Jeff Passan gives an excellent assessment of what’s been going right for the Orioles this season. I let out an audible “Aw!” when Yennier Cano said, “I’d be super happy if I got to work with [Adley] the rest of my career.”

Building up: How Lego sets have helped Orioles rookie Gunnar Henderson ‘decompress’ through early-season struggles – Baltimore Sun
I was proud to welcome Gunnar Henderson to the Nerd Club after finding out he loves building with Star Wars Legos. But then he said his favorite Star Wars movie is Revenge of the Sith, and his nerd credentials are officially revoked.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Two former Orioles were born on this day: the late right-hander Chuck Locke (b. 1932, d. 2015), who pitched two games for the 1955 Birds, and righty Beau Sulser (29), who made six appearances for last year’s Orioles. Sulser is now pitching in Korea for the KT Wiz.

Today is the two-year anniversary of one of the greatest days in Orioles history. On May 5, 2021, John Means etched his name in baseball lore by throwing a no-hitter against the Mariners, the first solo no-hitter for an Oriole since 1969. Means faced the minimum 27 batters in his dominant showing, robbed of a perfect game only by a wild-pitch third strike that allowed a runner to reach (before said runner was promptly caught stealing). Afterwards, an emotional Means said he felt the presence of his late father, Alan, telling him what pitches to throw. Aaaaand...waterworks.

Coincidentally, the Orioles have also been on the other end of a no-hitter on this same date. In 1962, Angels rookie lefty Bo Belinsky, making just his fourth major league start, twirled a nine-strikeout no-no in Los Angeles. He was effectively wild, walking four batters and plunking two, but retired the last 10 batters he faced to ice the no-hitter.

Random Orioles game of the day

The random number generator picks 1970, so let’s take a look. On May 5, 1970, the Orioles defeated the Royals, 7-3, at Memorial Stadium to give the two teams inverse records (15-8 for the first-place Birds, 8-15 for Kansas City). The O’s crushed four home runs — by Davey Johnson, Elrod Hendricks, Brooks Robinson, and Boog Powell — with two coming off of former Oriole Wally Bunker and two off of future Oriole Dick Drago. Baltimore native Tom Phoebus went the distance for the O’s and also helped himself at the plate with a pair of hits.