Mountcastle hits 2 homers, Norby hits 1st to back Burnes and lead Orioles to 10-1 win over Blue Jays; Search for right-handed relief - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Mountcastle hits 2 homers, Norby hits 1st to back Burnes and lead Orioles to 10-1 win over Blue Jays; Search for right-handed relief

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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What happened? Ryan Mountcastle continued to torment the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting two home runs and driving in five runs in the Orioles’ 10-1 win over Toronto at Rogers Centre on Tuesday night.

Mountcastle hit a three-run home run in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth that went 440 feet. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde described it to reporters in Toronto as a “no-doubter.”

Mountcastle has 17 home runs and 48 RBIs in 56 games against the Blue Jays in his career.

He shared the limelight with starting pitcher Corbin Burnes, who continued to show what an ace can mean to a pitching staff, and second baseman Connor Norby, whose first major league hit was a two-run home run in the eighth inning.

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Those three overshadowed Adley Rutschman, who had a pair of run-scoring singles as the designated hitter.

Burnes (6-2) allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, his second straight seven-inning outing. He struck out five and walked one.

George Springer’s home run with two outs in the seventh inning prevented a shutout. Hyde visited the mound after the home run and allowed Burnes to finish the inning. When asked after the game where to begin on the highlights, Hyde said he’d have to start with Burnes.

The Orioles (39-20) have won 10 of their last 12 and remain 2 ½ games behind the New York Yankees in second place in the American League East.

What does it mean? The Orioles continue to play extremely well against the AL East. They’re now 13-4 against them.

What’s the stat of the day? .077. Entering Tuesday night’s game, Mountcastle was 1-for-13 in three games against the Blue Jays this season, but he made up for that in a hurry, hammering a breaking ball on his first homer and crushing a fastball to straightaway center on his second.

What’s next? Albert Suárez (2-0, 1.57) will face José Berrios (5-4, 2.78) in the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday night at 7:07.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? High-A Aberdeen was no-hit by Brooklyn, 3-0. Three Cyclones pitchers combined on the no-hitter. The IronBirds drew three walks.

Brandon Young (1-0) allowed two runs on four hits in six innings as Triple-A Norfolk beat Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 4-2. Catcher Blake Hunt hit his second home run.

Seth Johnson allowed a hit in four shutout innings, striking out eight and walking two, as Double-A Bowie beat Binghamton, 3-1. Johnson, Ryan Hennen (2-2), Houston Roth and Dan Hammer combined on a three-hitter.

Leftfielder John Rhodes hit a two-run home run..

Second baseman Angel Tejada and shortstop Aron Estrada homered as Single-A Delmarva beat Lynchburg 6-3.

Right-handed pitcher Carlos Tavera and outfielder Donta’ Williams were transferred from Bowie to Norfolk. Right-hander Lincoln Henzman was signed to a minor league contract and assigned to Bowie, and right-hander Michael Forret was promoted from Delmarva to Aberdeen.

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Orioles’ search for right-handers continues

There’s no doubt the Orioles’ organization is deep. There are prospects at nearly every position. However, there’s one area in which they’re short — major league-ready right-handed pitchers.

The Orioles have four right-handers and four left-handers in their bullpen, an unusual ratio that may not last for long. When Nick Vespi was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, the left-hander replaced right-hander Tayago Vieira, who was designated for assignment.

Vieira had been with the Orioles for a week after they acquired him for Milwaukee. In his only appearance on May 27th, he didn’t retire any of the five batters he faced, walking four.

The Orioles lost a right-hander when they designated Mike Baumann, who was out of options, for assignment when Grayson Rodriguez came off the injured list on May 18th. Baumann was traded to Seattle along with minor league catcher Michael Pérez in exchange for catching prospect Blake Hunt.

Four of the eight relievers on their staff — Vespi fellow lefty Keegan Akin and right-handers Yennier Cano and Dillion Tate — have options remaining and can be sent to the minor leagues.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, in the days after Baumann’s designation, they lost two starters to injuries, John Means (for the season) and Dean Kremer, and they could have used him then.

There are only three minor league right-handed pitchers on the 40-man roster — Bryan Baker, Jonathan Heasley and Seth Johnson.

Johnson, whom the Orioles envision as a future starter, was acquired from Tampa Bay in the three-way deal that sent Trey Mancini to Houston in August 2022. Johnson had Tommy John surgery right after the trade and he’s being built up at Double-A Bowie.

Baker, who had a mostly successful run with the Orioles in 2022 and much of 2023, has faltered with Norfolk and has a 7.20 ERA.

While Heasley has been terrific with the Tides, allowing just one earned run in 23 innings, he’s allowed 10 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings for a 16.88 ERA in four games with the Orioles.

On Tuesday, the Orioles signed 33-year-old right-hander Julio Teheran to a minor league contract. He’ll report to Norfolk. Teheran was in spring training with the Orioles but didn’t make the team.

Perhaps it’s possible that the Orioles will give Teheran, who’s been a starter for nearly all of his 13 major league seasons, a shot in the bullpen at some point, or they could bring him up for a spot start.

The Orioles’ two best starting pitching prospects are left-hander Cade Povich and right-hander Chayce McDermott.

They also have Caleb Martin at Norfolk. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 5.17 ERA in seven games with the Tides. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias drafted Martin in the second round of the 2017 draft while with Houston and acquired him off waivers from Milwaukee on May 17th.

The Orioles have an open spot on the 40-man roster, and once it’s full, they can shift Means and Tyler Wells to the 60-day injured list to create two more spots.

It seems likely that the Orioles will aggressively look for right-handed bullpen help in the coming weeks.

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