2023 was the year Orioles magic returned - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

2023 was the year Orioles magic returned

Photo Credit: Gregory Fisher USA TODAY Sports

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As we end 2023, which featured a 101-win team, the most by an Orioles team since 1979, and look ahead to the great unknown of 2024, let’s review some of the biggest stories of the year just past.

“I believe that our rebuild is behind us. We’ve got an incredible chance now to be a very competitive team for years.”-Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias-February 3rd

At the kickoff to the Orioles’ Birdland Caravan in the Warehouse, Elias spoke with optimism about the 2023 Orioles and hoped they’d be able to improve on their 31-game improvement in the won/loss standings.

“We’ve got a real good team, a real good roster and some hopes of making the playoffs this year.”

I’d love to have that as an All-Star break gift for everybody.”-Orioles chair and CEO John Angelos on negotiations for a new lease.

Angelos spoke with reporters in Sarasota on February 19th and said that he was going to own the Orioles “for the long haul.

“There is absolutely no plan to change the partnership group or to change the managing partnership structure that we have.”

Like a dream, oh my God, unbelievable experience.”-Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander on returning to Sarasota on March 21st.

Santander hit .353 with two home runs for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Centerfielder Cedric Mullins played for Team USA, which lost to Team Japan in the finals.

It was not a representative spring training for him.”-Elias on the March 27th demotion of Grayson Rodriguez to Triple-A Norfolk

Rodriguez was competing for a spot in the starting rotation, but allowed 12 earned runs on 17 hits in 10 2/3 innings in his final three Grapefruit League starts.

It turned out that Rodriguez made just a single start in Norfolk. Kyle Bradish was hit by a line drive in the Orioles’ fourth game of the season in Arlington, Texas and Rodriguez was quickly recalled.

Hit the butt of my glove and just fell out. It was unfortunate timing.”-Ryan McKenna on dropping a fly ball with two outs in the ninth on April 1st at Fenway Park.

The Orioles had a 8-7 lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Boston’s Masataka Yoshida’s fly ball was hit to McKenna in left. He dropped it, and Adam Duvall won the game a moment later with a two-run home run against Félix Bautista

Teammates quickly rallied to McKenna’s defense, and he didn’t make another error for the rest of the season.

It was a definite Baltimore crowd all the way through.”-Brandon Hyde after the Orioles’ home opener on April 7th.

For years, Yankees fans, if not outnumbering Orioles fans, outcheered them at Camden Yards, but that was hardly the case as the Orioles beat New York 7-6 in their home opener.

I had no clue. I was like, ‘That’s a lot, man.”-Ryan Mountcastle after tying the team record with nine RBIs on April 11th.

The Orioles first baseman hit two run home runs, a grand-slam and a three-run homer, an RBI single and a sacrifice fly. It was the third time an Oriole had driven in nine runs, the first time at home.

Assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes delivered the good news to Mountcastle.

Adley is Superman right now.”-Tyler Wells on Adley Rutschman on April 14th.

Rutschman began the Orioles’ four-game series in Chicago with a ninth-inning homer and his seventh-inning double gave the Orioles a lift on their way to their second straight win.

Rutschman appreciated his starting pitcher’s compliment. “I don’t know about Superman. He’s like the greatest hype man that you’ll ever meet.,” he said.

I think this is a season and a 40-man roster where every single person on that 40-man roster and is going to come in to play for us throughout the year, and he’s the next one to get a shot.”-Elias on left-handed pitcher Drew Rom on May 9th

The Orioles called up Rom from Norfolk when they were short on pitching, but was quickly returned without appearing in a game. On August 1st, the Orioles packaged Rom along with infielder César Prieto in a trade to St. Louis for Jack Flaherty.

As a Cardinal, Rom beat the Orioles on September 13th. Flaherty won just a single game for the Orioles, and Elias was correct, the Orioles used 50 players in 2023.

it’s unfortunate that starts like this happen, but ultimately I’m going to learn the most from this one.”-Rodriguez after allowing eight runs to Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels

Rodriguez was matched up against Ohtani, and the Orioles lost to the Angels 9-5 on May 16th.

Ohtani singled twice, tripled and homered while allowing five runs in seven innings.

I think I may have blacked out a little bit.”-Josh Lester on getting his first major league hit, which drove in two runs in the Orioles’ 8-3 win in San Francisco.

Lester was one of four non-roster first basemen on the Orioles’ spring training roster, and at 28, finally got that first hit. He got four hits in his 11 games with the Orioles, getting sent down at the end of the month after pitching a scoreless ninth inning in a lopsided loss to Seattle.

I feel like when I finally get to the man-strength phase I might be able to get a little farther.”-Gunnar Henderson on hitting his first Eutaw Street home run on June 11th.

Henderson had a rough start to the season, and 18 days before his 22nd birthday, hit one of the longer Oriole Park home runs in an 11-3 win over Kansas City.

It’s fun to see your guys get recognized. It’s fun to see your guys on the national stage.”-Hyde after four Orioles were named to the American League All-Star team on July 2nd.

Rutschman, Bautista, Yennier Cano and Austin Hays were selected as All-Stars, the most since 2016.

When you play six months, you’re going to have periods of not playing the best baseball and we’re in that period right now.”-Hyde after the Orioles lost their sixth in seven games on July 3rd.

After the Orioles’ 8-4 loss at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles lost their fourth straight, the longest of the season. They weren’t swept in a series all season.

“For the moment , it ranks in the top three. It might be number one. I’ll have to go back through the archive.”-Cedric Mullins on making a spectacular catch in Seattle on August 13th

Mullins, who had two stints on the injured list with adductor/groin strains returned from his second one, made an amazing catch to rob Ty France of a home run in the bottom of the ninth. He homered for the game-winning run in the ninth.

“When the best closer in the game leaves the game, that’s never a good feeling.”­-Hyde when Bautista left the Orioles’ August 25th game.

Bautista wouldn’t pitch again though he threw in the bullpen several times before the decision was made that he’d need Tommy John surgery in October. He’ll miss the 2024 season.

This is everything I could have imagined. I wanted to celebrate this.”-Hays after Orioles’ clinched a playoff berth on September 17th.

The Orioles actually qualified for their postseason appearance since 2016  during the game, a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay in 11 innings, but after they won the game, they celebrated wildly.

Hays, who had played with the Orioles since 2017 was perhaps the happiest of all.

I knew it was a possibility, but I was just trying to get outs and get deep in the game.”-John Means after throwing 6 2/3 innings of hitless ball in Cleveland on September 23rd.

Means had undergone Tommy John surgery in April 2022, and hadn’t won a game in nearly two years. He threw a no-hitter in May 2021, and his win allowed the Orioles to get closer to their first AL East title since 2014.

Nobody gave us a chance at the start of the year. Nobody. That’s 100 wins right there, 100 wins. We just won the AL East.”-Hyde on September 28th.

Hyde addressed the players in the Orioles’ clubhouse after they clinched the AL East, and another celebration, though not quite as wild as the one 11 days before ensued.

You don’t really want to think about that.”-Rutschman on what the Orioles would look like in 2024 after the Texas Rangers eliminated them in three games in the Division Series on October 10th.

Rutschman was shocked about the abrupt end to the Orioles’ magical season as were his teammates. He was reminded that the 2024 team wouldn’t look exactly like the 2023 one.

I’m still irritated, still frustrated, still pissed.”-Hyde at his end of season availability on October 12th.

Hyde and Elias spoke to the media two days after the Orioles’ magical year came to a close.

It’s definitely a very strong possibility.”-Elias on whether Jackson Holliday could begin 2024 with the Orioles on December 5th.

At his availability with the national media at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Elias was asked if there was a chance that Holliday, the top prospect in minor league baseball could begin the season with the Orioles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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