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Tuesday Bird Droppings: The biggest two-game series

Hall does to Sarasota, the O’s head to Tampa, and Gunnar breaking out.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

It’s only two games, but they are the two most important games the Orioles have played in a while. If the O’s get a quick sweep, they will be within three games of first place in the AL East for the first time since late May. A sweep in favor of the Rays would make it a seven-game deficit, the largest of the season for the Orioles.

If ever there was a time to face the Rays, right now might be it. They’ve lost two in a row and four out of their last six. That constitutes a lengthy slump for the league’s juggernaut.

The O’s dropped two out of three to the Cubs this past weekend, but had taken two series in a row before that, and they own a 7-3 record in their last 10 games.

It’s tough to learn too much in a weird midweek two game series like this. They just go by so fast, and one of them is a noon start. But you play the hand you’re dealt, and the Orioles will need to make the most of it.

Considering they are on the road facing a team with the best home record in the sport, a split is perfectly tolerable. A sweep would be tough to swallow.


Dick Hall, an Orioles Hall of Fame reliever with impeccable control who helped Baltimore win two World Series, dies at 92 | The Baltimore Sun
There was sad news in Birdland yesterday. But one positive I usually take from these situations is that it gives me an opportunity (and a reason) to read about these legends of the organization that played before my time. Hall was on the Orioles’ first two World Series teams, so you can bet he was pretty darn good.

Orioles minor league report: DL Hall, Baltimore’s No. 2 pitching prospect, has been sent down to Sarasota. Here’s why. | The Baltimore Sun
Do I dare say that DL Hall’s development is turning into something of a “saga?” He’s obviously very talented, and there have been times where you could make the case that his pure stuff is better than Grayson Rodriguez’s. But these last few years have been a roller coaster.

Orioles plow through adversity to reach tonight’s series opener at Tropicana Field | Roch Kubatko
The O’s are going through a messy middle portion of the season, but there are still playing pretty well on the whole. That feels like a positive sign for the team’s playoff odds, and should only improve as the talent on the roster (hopefully) increases.

Are we witnessing the Gunnar Henderson breakout? |
It feels like it, at least the rookie version of it. Gunnar Henderson’s not even 22 yet. He will get better, probably add a little more power, and get even more confident. That will be mighty fun to watch.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Félix Bautista turns 28 today. The big righty burst onto the big league stage in 2022, becoming the Orioles’ closer in the second-half of the season. He’s been even better in 2023, and has forced his way into the “best reliever in baseball” conversation.
  • Thomas Eshelman is 29. A soft-tossing righty, Eshelman filled gaps for the rebuilding Orioles from 2019 through 2021, starting 14 times and coming out of the bullpen another 17.
  • Kevin Gregg celebrates his 45th. He spent two seasons in the Orioles bullpen from 2011 through 2012.
  • Paul Bako turns 51. He was Ramon Hernandez’s backup behind the plate during the 2007 season in Baltimore.
  • Juan Castro is also 51. The 17-year MLB vet had a pitstop in Baltimore during the 2008 season, playing all over the infield that year.
  • Phil Huffman is 65 years old. He pitched in two games for the 1985 O’s.
  • Tony Chevez is 70. His O’s career lasted four games in 1977.
  • The late Andy Etchebarren (b. 1943, d. 2019) was born on this day. He debuted with the O’s in 1962, but didn’t stick in the league until ‘66. From that season through 1975, he was often the guy behind the plate for the golden era of Orioles baseball.

This day in O’s history

1970 - Brooks Robinson records his 2,000th major league hit, a three-run homer that propels the Orioles to a 5-4 win over the Washington Senators.