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Saturday Bird Droppings: The return of Cole Irvin

Piecing together the lineup, G-Rod shines in Triple-A, and the struggles of being young in MLB.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

You probably don’t have Apple TV+, at least not the full, paid version. No one does. But that’s where our Orioles played last night, and they won! The offense still wasn’t really clicking, but Tyler Wells pitched like an all-star again, and the bullpen did its thing. That was enough against one of the worst teams in the league.

What a game from Gunnar Henderson! The rookie had three hits and a pair of a stolen bases. He also got picked off and caught stealing, reinforcing the “rookie” part of that last sentence, but still—the kid is looking good.

Austin Hays is finally living up to the potential that made him a top prospect many moons ago. A double and a home run last night helped his case to go to the Midsummer Classic as well. That’s your lead-off hitter for the immediate future.

Penciling in Aaron Hicks at the clean-up spot would have seemed ludicrous a week or two ago—and if we’re honest it was still a bit of a shock last night as well. But the orange and black suits him. He’s getting on base nearly 50% of the time since joining the Birds. This is a team that needs that sort of traffic to manufacture runs right now.

Today we see the return of Cole Irvin. The lefty added from the A’s this past offseason has had a rough go in the big leagues this year. Three bad starts in April earned him a demotion, and his only appearance at this level since then was one-third of a frame last month.

Irvin has sorted things out somewhat in Triple-A. He’s walking fewer than one batter per nine innings, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 5.50. Those are good numbers! He’s also only striking 4.7 batters per nine innings, which is less encouraging.

But he gets a soft landing by facing the Royals, by all metrics one of the worst offenses in the league. If he can get through the lineup twice with relatively little damage that will be seen as a success.


This, that and the other | Roch Kubatko
The idea of batting Adley Rutschman lead off is floated here, and to that I say...sure? He gets on base a lot, and sees a lot of pitches. That’s most of what you want from that place in the order. The Yankees have put Aaron Judge in that spot more than a few times. Rutschman fits the bill just as well. For now, I like Hays there. But it’s good to have options while Cedric Mullins is out.

Here’s why Hays and Wells have entered the All-Star discussion |
It’s quite simple. They are playing like one of the 30 or so best in the American League. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will make the cut, but it’s worth recognizing, and it’s good for the Orioles.

G-Rod unleashes wipeout stuff for Tides |
It’s exciting to see Grayson Rodriguez pitch so well with Norfolk. While not all numbers translate to the majors, swings and misses tend to be a good indication of what a guy’s stuff and location looks like. He’ll be back in Baltimore before long, and hopefully looking more like the pitcher he expected to be.

Brandon Hyde and Orioles veterans say it’s harder to be a young player in MLB today. Here’s why. | The Baltimore Sun
Of course. Professional athletics has evolved so much in the last 20 years or so, and while some elements of that may have slowed recently, it is still happening. There is a lot working against individual players, which makes it hard to keep up. And the crunch of time and resources means that some of them never get the chance to work out the kinks.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Jay Flaa turns 31 today. His big league time in Baltimore was brief as the righty pitched in just one game for the O’s in 2021.
  • Julio Mañón is 50 years old. He spent part of 2006 in the Orioles bullpen.
  • Ken Singleton is 77. From 1975 through ‘84 he patrolled the Orioles outfield, made three all-star teams and even earned down-ballot MVP consideration in six different seasons. The 30.0 bWAR he accumulated is the 20th-most in O’s/Browns franchise history.
  • Hank Foiles is 94 years old today. He spent 1961 with the Orioles, serving as the backup to Gus Triandos behind the plate.
  • The late Ken Lehman (b. 1928, d. 2010) was born on this day. He a two-season stint in the Orioles bullpen from 1957-58.

This day in O’s history

1978 - For the third time in 18 days Jim Palmer has a 1-0 victory, beating the Oakland A’s on this day. He also topped the Tigers on May 24 and the New York Yankees on June 1.

1995 - Orioles third baseman Jeff Manto homers in his fourth straight and in five our of six at-bats. Prior to this surge, he had hit four home runs in total during his first three big league seasons.

2005 - Three players from the 500-homer club appear in one game for the first time in history. Sammy Soa and Rafael Palmeiro help the Orioles beat Ken Griffey Jr. and the Reds by a score of 4-3.