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Saturday Bird Droppings: A bittersweet victory for the Orioles

The O’s won their 80th game on a dramatic late-inning homer, but may have lost their All-Star closer to injury in the process.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Baltimore Orioles
Please be OK, Félix.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well, last night was certainly a whirlwind of emotions in Birdland.

First, the good news: the O’s pulled off yet another dramatic victory, rallying back from an eighth-inning deficit to top the Rockies on Gunnar Henderson’s clutch two-run homer. The win was their 80th of the year — making the Birds just the second team in MLB and the first in the American League to reach the 80-win mark this year — and extended their not-being-swept streak to 81. Thanks to Tampa Bay’s loss to the Yankees, the Orioles increased their lead in the AL East to three games.

Yes, it was shaping up to be another magical night at Camden Yards...until the next-to-last pitch of the game. That’s when closer extraordinaire Félix Bautista, one strike away from his 34th save, fired a ball and then spun off the mound, prompting a mound visit from what seemed like every O’s coach and player in the ballpark. He left the game with what manager Brandon Hyde later called “arm discomfort,” a phrase that surely sends shivers up the spine of any Orioles fan. Tyler Young recapped last night’s emotional roller coaster.

The O’s will run more tests on Bautista today, his bobblehead day at Camden Yards, to find out the extent of his injury. Fans will be hoping beyond hope that it’s something relatively minor and Félix will be able to return after only a short hiatus. But there’s always the looming possibility of a much more serious ailment that could potentially sideline Bautista for the remainder of the 2023 season — if not longer.

If that happens, it would be a devastating turn of events for the 28-year-old All-Star, who has emerged as the best closer in the game in just his second major league season. It would also deal a huge blow to the Orioles’ World Series hopes. The O’s will probably still make the playoffs without Bautista. They might still win the division. But come the postseason, when a shutdown bullpen is especially important, losing the services of MLB’s most elite reliever would put the Orioles in a precarious spot.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, and that The Mountain will be taking the Camden Yards mound again before the season is done. Fingers crossed.


Adam Jones to officially retire as an Oriole on September 15th -
Great and well-deserved news about one of the most popular players in O’s history. Next up, hopefully, will be Jones’ induction into the Orioles Hall of Fame.

Increased slider usage has helped Yennier Cano get back locked in for the O's - Steve Melewski
Don’t look now. but Yennier Cano has gotten locked back into his early-season form after a shaky few weeks. He seems as good a candidate as any to fill in for Bautista’s closer duties for a while.

Jon Meoli: An Orioles stretch run without Félix Bautista would be daunting - The Baltimore Banner
Even with Cano and other late-inning relievers pitching well of late, the O’s face a tall task in trying to replace Bautista. As Meoli writes, it will “challenge the entire bullpen’s equilibrium.”

Kyle Bradish blossoming into Orioles’ much-needed ace: ‘He’s a No. 1′ - The Baltimore Sun
Kyle Bradish, by some measures, has the nastiest stuff of any major league starter. Looks like the Orioles do indeed have an ace...and he’s been inside the house the whole time.

Closer look at Orioles rotation and lineup numbers - School of Roch
Seeing tomorrow's scheduled Rockies starter Ty Blach, who made five starts for the horrid 2019 O’s, reminded Roch Kubatko of other “stalwarts” from that ’19 rotation. If you have any memories of Sean Gilmartin, Luis Ortiz, Yefry Ramírez, or Nate Karns, you have my sympathy.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 29th birthday to Tyler Wells, who was one of the Orioles’ best starters in the first half before a midseason slump got him sent to the minors. He’s currently working in the Triple-A Norfolk bullpen and is a prime candidate to get called up in Bautista’s absence. Also celebrating a birthday today is 2021 O’s third baseman Maikel Franco (31).

On this date in 1958, O’s righty Hal “Skinny” Brown tossed the second longest shutout in O’s history, working 12 innings against Cleveland in a 1-0 walkoff win. Brown struck out three while scattering nine hits. Cleveland’s Don Ferrarese, a former Oriole, also pitched a complete game, but lost in the bottom of the 12th on a bases-loaded walk to Dick Williams.

In 1966, the O’s became just the third team ever to hit back-to-back pinch-hit home runs, and they came at a good time, with Vic Roznovsky’s and Boog Powell’s shots tying the Red Sox 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth. The O’s went on to win in 13 innings on a Russ Snyder walkoff single.

In 1985, Eddie Murray exploded for three home runs and nine RBIs in a 17-3 rout of the Angels. After a two-run homer off starter John Candelaria in the first and an RBI single in the second, Eddie tagged reliever Alan Fowlkes for a solo homer in the fourth and then a grand slam in the fifth to cap his epic night. John Shelby, Floyd Rayford, Gary Roenicke, and Rick Dempsey also homered as part of the Orioles’ seven-dinger attack. Murray’s nine RBI game was the last for the O’s until this year, when Ryan Mountcastle accomplished it in April.

And on this day in 2012, the O’s made a seemingly minor acquisition that reaped huge dividends, acquiring veteran lefty Joe Saunders from Arizona. Saunders ended up starting the Orioles’ first playoff game in 15 years, the Wild Card Game in Texas, where he stunningly outdueled Yu Darvish to send the Birds to the ALDS.