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Friday Bird Droppings: The Orioles could use a day off

An utterly exhausted O’s bullpen blew another late lead in Cleveland, shaving the Birds’ division lead to 1.5 games.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Guardians
Jacob Webb, one of many tired Orioles relievers.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The Orioles are currently at the tail end of a brutal stretch of 17 straight games without a day off. And boy, does it show.

The Birds’ running-on-fumes bullpen collapsed in the eighth inning last night for a disappointing 5-2 loss in Cleveland, a game that also saw the O’s offense extend its scoreless streak to 15 straight innings before a rally in the top of the eighth. Stacey recapped the action, which was a night full of frustration, punctuated only briefly by a late comeback that went for naught.

With the Orioles having gone two weeks without a breather, players look noticeably tired, particularly the relief crew, which is continually getting pressed into early duty and leaving Brandon Hyde short on fresh arms. The Birds have used four or more relievers in five consecutive games, to diminishing effect. It’s getting ugly out there, and the Orioles still have three more games to play until their next day off.

In the meantime, their division lead has been cut to 1.5 games over the Rays, who won a walkoff against the hapless Angels yesterday. The Orioles’ magic number to clinch the AL East remains at seven. O’s fans can only hope that Tampa will face a more daunting challenge the next three days in the Blue Jays, who are fighting for their postseason lives. Typing these words makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but... (ugh) go, Blue Jays.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are back at it in Cleveland tonight, and they could certainly use an extended outing from their starting pitcher. Unfortunately, Dean Kremer has not thrown more than five innings in any of his three starts this month. The time is now, Dean. The O’s will have to fight through the fatigue and gut out a couple of wins in this series, which would put them in prime position to clinch in front of the home fans next week.


Orioles bullpen stumbles in series-opening loss to Guardians -
The pesky Guardians fouled off 37 pitches against Grayson Rodriguez to chase him from the game after five. It doesn’t make me particularly optimistic about Kremer’s chances of eating up innings tonight.

Answers to your Orioles questions, Part 1 -
One reader wants to know why postseason teams aren’t re-seeded after the wild card round, and I’d like to know, too. The Orioles could finish with the best record in the AL and still have to face a tougher Division Series opponent than the #2 team does.

Catching a glimpse: Taxi squad catchers aspire to live their own big league dreams - The Baltimore Banner
Taxi squad catchers are sort of the Schrödinger’s cat of baseball, simultaneously on the team but not on the team. (Is that what Schrödinger’s cat means? I don’t know quantum mechanics.)

O's international prospects: More than just Samuel Basallo making noise - Steve Melewski
You know, I think this Samuel Basallo fella is going to be pretty good. #analysis

Orioles’ Adley Rutschman hugs it out with pitchers like no one else in the game. That’s a good thing.
Finally, an entire article on the topic we’ve been waiting for: Adley Hugs. Apparently not only does Adley hug the pitcher after the last out, but then he hugs every pitcher in the clubhouse afterward! He’s just the best.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! It’s the birthday of seven, blink-and-you-missed-’em former Orioles: catchers John Stefero (64) and César Devarez (54); infielders Luis García (48) and P.J. Forbes (56); and right-handers Luis Ortiz (28), Chris Ellis (31), and the late Bob Harrison (b. 1930, d. 2023). Those seven guys combined to play just 105 games for the Orioles, 61 of which were Stefero’s. Like I said, blink and you missed ’em.

Historically, Sept. 22 has been a good day for the Orioles to clinch a postseason spot. They first did so in 1966 with a 6-1 win over the Kansas City Athletics behind a Jim Palmer complete game. With that, the Birds won their first-ever American League pennant, and — without all those pesky extra rounds of playoffs — punched their ticket directly to the World Series, where they would eventually sweep the Dodgers.

In 1973, the O’s clinched an AL East division title with a 7-1 win in Milwaukee, once again led by a complete-game effort on the mound, this time by Doyle Alexander. Leadoff man Al Bumbry hit three triples in the game, tying a major league record. Bumbry led the AL with 11 triples that season and won AL Rookie of the Year.

On this date in 1961, O’s first baseman Jim Gentile bashed his fifth grand slam of the season, tagging former Oriole Don Larsen as part of a seven-run inning in the Birds’ 8-6 win over the White Sox. Gentile’s five slams tied the MLB record held by Ernie Banks at the time, though it would later be topped by Don Mattingly in 1987 and Travis Hafner in 2006, who each hit six. Those five salamis contributed 20 RBIs to Gentile’s eventual league-leading total of 141 that year. And weirdly, all five of his grand slams came when Chuck Estrada was on the mound for the Orioles.

And in 2012, the Orioles won their 16th straight extra-inning game and last of the regular season, beating the Red Sox, 9-6, in 12 frames at Fenway Park. Jim Thome’s RBI ground-rule double put the Birds ahead, and RBI singles by Endy Chavez and Manny Machado padded the lead before Jim Johnson closed things out for his 47th save. The victory kept the O’s one game behind the Yankees for the AL East lead.