The good news is that the Orioles managed to avoid their first series sweep since May 13th-15th, 2022 in Detroit. The bad news is that the Orioles have lost three of their last four series. That last happened last September when they dropped three of four to Boston, Toronto and Detroit while sweeping a two-game series at Washington.
On Friday night, air quality permitting, the Orioles begin a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. At 18-44, the Royals have the second-worst record in baseball, better only than the sorry Oakland Athletics, who are 14-50.
The Orioles took two of three at Kansas City last month, which included losing their swiftest game of the season, one that took one hour, 59 minutes followed by a 13-10 win that took three hours, 24 minutes, their longest nine-inning game of the season.
Kansas City is on pace for a 47-115 record while the Orioles’ record of 38-24 projects to 99 wins.
The Orioles’ late-inning comeback on Thursday prevented them from a losing road trip. They’re a superb 21-12 away from Oriole Park.
After three games with the Royals comes an offday on Monday followed by three games against Toronto. The Orioles swept the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre from May 19th-21st.
Who gets Saturday’s start? Tyler Wells (4-2, 3.29) will get Friday’s start against Daniel Lynch (0-1, 4.35) while Saturday’s and Sunday’s starters are unknown. The Royals are scheduled to start Brady Singer (4-4, 6.45) at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday.
The most likely choice to start on Saturday is Cole Irvin, who is scheduled to start that day for Triple-A Norfolk, which played on Thursday night after having their first two games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre postponed because of poor air quality.
Irvin, who had three poor starts to begin the season, is 6-1 with a 3.21 ERA for the Tides.
After his mid-April demotion, Irvin started five times before he was called up as a long relief option. After several days of inactivity, Irvin faced two batters in Toronto on May 20th before he was optioned again.
In his two most recent starts, Irvin allowed four runs on seven hits in 11 innings, striking out five without walking a batter.
Irvin averaged fewer than two walks per nine innings for Oakland in 2022, but he walked eight in 12 2/3 innings, which led to his option. He seems to have regained his control at Norfolk, striking out 22 and walking only four in 42 innings.
The Orioles have been without a fifth starter since optioning Grayson Rodriguez to Norfolk and tried Austin Voth on May 30th as a bulk reliever. His 2 1/3 innings led to an overtaxed bullpen, but with the offday on Monday, it isn’t wild to think that manager Brandon Hyde could try a bullpen game.
Voth was not used in the Orioles’ 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He pitched twice on the road trip, throwing the final inning of the 8-3 win in San Francisco on Sunday and taking the loss in the 10th inning in the 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday.
Bruce Zimmermann threw two scoreless innings last Saturday in San Francisco and allowed four runs in three innings on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
In any other year, Irvin would have stayed with the Orioles while he tried to work on his control issues, but with every game critical, they felt they couldn’t afford the luxury of patience.
The Orioles have used only six conventional starters — Irvin, Rodriguez, Wells, Kyle Bradish, Kyle Gibson and Dean Kremer. Keegan Akin started the May 30th game as an opener and pitched just one inning.
Drew Rom and Spenser Watkins were both briefly elevated to the Orioles as long relief options, but neither pitched in their stays with the team and are back with Norfolk.
DL Hall, who threw 3 1/3 hitless innings on Thursday night, got only a cameo as the 27th man during a doubleheader in Detroit on April 28th. Hall threw 59 pitches on Thursday night, walking four and striking out three.
Streaky Santander: Anthony Santander, who hit .337 in May with seven home runs, 22 RBIs and a 1.056 OPS, was 0-for-June until Thursday’s eighth inning.
Santander was 0-for-25 on the road trip, two short of the worst slump of his career, until an eighth-inning double, driving in Adley Rutschman. After Austin Hays was caught looking, Gunnar Henderson hit the game-winning home run.
In the ninth inning, Santander popped out to third and ended the game with a .250 average. He ended May with a .277 average.