In this season of new rules designed to present more action in a shorter time, the Orioles played their shortest game in nearly 13 years. They lost, 6-0, to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in just one hour, 59 minutes.
The last time they played a nine-inning game in under two hours was on September 15th, 2010 when they beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-1, in just one hour, 55 minutes.
Oriole starter Kyle Gibson (4-1) lost for the first time this season, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He didn’t walk or strike out a batter for the first time in 268 career starts.
It was the first time this season the Orioles have been shut out. At the 30-game mark, they’re 20-10, and will shoot for their seventh series win on Thursday when Grayson Rodriguez faces former Oriole Jordan Lyles.
Interesting move: The Orioles made a seemingly minor move on Wednesday when they acquired catcher Luis Torrens from the Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Torrens, reliever Joey Krehbiel, who was with Triple-A Norfolk, was designated for assignment.
A number of fans asked me for an explanation of the move, and I was as puzzled as they were.
Manager Brandon Hyde told reporters in Kansas City that he didn’t know when Torrens would report, but that the Orioles would carry three catchers.
Recently, Hyde has been using either James McCann or Adley Rutschman as the designated hitter when the other is catching. It’s nice to have the luxury of a third catcher to allow a manager to freely do this, but having McCann and Torrens as two of the four players on the bench seemingly leaves the Orioles short-handed.
They did carry three catchers for a few days last month when McCann was activated from the 10-day injured list and Anthony Bemboom was kept, but soon Ryan O’Hearn was added as a left-handed bat, and Bemboom was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.
Last week, the Orioles had infielder Joey Ortiz with them for the first three games of the series in Detroit because they wanted to start a right-handed hitter against three left-handers. He was returned to Norfolk on Sunday while Kyle Stowers was recalled from the Tides.
Perhaps Torrens’ stay with the Orioles will be a short one and they’ll attempt to sneak him through waivers, and be able to outright him to Norfolk.
Krehbiel’s removal from the 40-man roster wasn’t a surprise just because the Orioles’ talent is now so deep that there wasn’t really another logical move.
Pitcher Seth Johnson, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery and may not pitch until late in the season, if at all, could have been transferred to the 60-day injured list, but the Orioles don’t want to unnecessarily start his service clock, a move that onetime Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail would have referred to as “front office malpractice.”
Krehbiel had a strong first half of the 2022 season. As late as August 8th, his ERA was 2.27, but he stumbled and finished with a 3.90 ERA and was optioned to Norfolk for the last week of the season.
This year, he started slowly in spring training but pitched better later in Grapefruit League games. But the Orioles preferred to keep Mike Baumann and Logan Gillaspie over him.
At Norfolk, Krehbiel had a 2.00 ERA in nine games, but Yennier Cano, who has been outstanding, was promoted instead of him when Keegan Akin went on the paternity list last month. With Mychal Givens and Dillon Tate on rehab assignments and returning to the Orioles soon, a painful decision or two may be coming along. Krehbiel’s chances of a promotion in the near future didn’t look promising.
Last year, Krehbiel provided some levity in the clubhouse and it was fun to watch him engage with his teammates in pool.
The guess here is that Krehbiel won’t make it through waivers without being claimed. Knowing that, the Orioles could decide to trade him to ensure they receive something for him.
It’s another example of the team’s increased depth.
Chirinos says goodbye: Last year’s backup catcher, Robinson Chirinos, who wasn’t able to find a team for this season, announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Chirinos and Bemboom were the Orioles’ catchers for the first five weeks of the 2022 season until Rutschman recovered from his sore right triceps.
The 38-year-old played for six teams, including the 2019 Houston Astros, who came within one game of winning the World Series, and though he had a forgettable statistical season in 2022 (.179 average in 67 games), he was valuable as a mentor to Rutschman and as a mature voice on a rapidly improving team.
He’d make an excellent coach or manager, and hopefully he’ll find a team willing to give him that chance soon.
Minor league update: Drew Rom (4-1) allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, striking out 11 as Norfolk beat Durham, 9-1. Infielder Jordan Westburg and outfielder Daz Cameron each hit three-run home runs. First baseman Jon Lester had three hits.
Terrin Vavra ended the game at catcher for the Tides (21-7).
Erie beat Double-A Bowie, 12-7. Reliever Kade Strowd allowed five runs and retired just one batter. Designated hitter Billy Cook homered and drove in three runs.
Third baseman Max Wagner hit a two-run home run and shortstop Jackson Holliday had two hits in High-A Aberdeen’s 4-2 loss to Brooklyn.
First baseman Creed Willems had three hits, including his sixth home run, and drove in three runs, raising his average to .379 as Single-A Delmarva beat Carolina, 6-2.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB