The Orioles surprised many last season with a strong bullpen and even stronger defense. Those areas were supposed to be the least worrisome part of the team as the 2023 season got underway.
After the opening series in Boston, it’s safe to say that they might hold the biggest questions marks going forward.
Granted, the starters had their fair share of blame, but it was outfield miscues and the inability for the bullpen to lock down the game that led to the Orioles dropping the opening series two games to one.
Game one saw Kyle Gibson work into the sixth inning, as he was credited with five innings of work, allowing four runs, but left the game leading 8-2.
Over the remaining half of the game, the bullpen was charged with five runs (four earned), though they did allow both runners to score when Gibson left.
On top of outfield miscues, reads and wrong angles, the Red Sox roared back with five runs over the final two innings to make a blow-out win a nail-biter to the end.
Adley Rutschman set an Orioles’ record by reaching base six times on Opening Day and became the first catcher in MLB history to perform the feat since 1901. He was 5-for-5 with a walk, four RBIs and a home run.
The offense had 15 total hits and five stolen bases (Mateo and Mullins had two each and Frazier had one) while pounding out five extra base hits in winning the game 10-9.
Game two followed a similar model, as the offense jumped out to a 7-1 lead on home runs from Austin Hays (solo), Ryan Mountcastle (two-run) and Cedric Mullins (three-run).
Unfortunately, Dean Kremer would last only three innings, allowing five runs on six hits. Kremer, who seemed poised and under control this spring, looked the complete opposite in his first start.
Once again, the outfield and bullpen would be the ones who ultimately decided this game.
The bullpen pitched 5.2 innings, giving up four runs (two earned), allowing an 8-5 lead to become a 9-8 loss. Aided by a Ryan McKenna drop that would have ended the game, the outfield defense once again misplayed contact, took bad angles and played a part in Boston coming from behind to win.
Austin Hays, who was 0-for-5 on Opening Day, would lead the Orioles with five hits, including his home run.
Once again, the Orioles stole five bases, becoming the first team in MLB history to start a season with 10 stolen bases in the first two games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as the Birds fell 9-8 on a walk-off two-run home run by Adam Duvall, his second of the game.
Game three seemed to be a carryover from the previous game. Cole Irvin was making his Orioles debut, and it was not one to remember.
Irvin would start with a 32-pitch first inning. Though he surrendered only one run, he gave up two walks and two hits.
His final line was 88 pitches (58 strikes) in four innings of work. He allowed eight hits, six earned runs, two walks and struck out four.
The bullpen would follow with six hits, two walks and three earned runs in four innings of work. Though the outfield played a bit better, they still committed another miscue, and the defense committed it’s fifth error in three games.
On offense, a two-run home run by Adam Frazier and a solo shot by Cedric Mullins would tie the game before Boston scored three more in the bottom frame. Every time the Orioles got closer, the Red Sox followed with runs in the bottom half of the inning.
The Orioles would drop the game, 9-5, and lose the series in the end. Baltimore flies to Texas for a three-game set starting tomorrow night at 8:05 p.m. EST.
For the series, we picked Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson as the season’s first BATTERY ❌️-FACTOR. The former and current top prospects were to help usher in a new era for the Birds, and their contributions would be significant for the series.
While Rutschman didn’t disappoint, Henderson was a little quieter.
Rutschman was 6-for-15 for the series, with a home run, a walk, four RBIs and three strikeouts. Henderson, on the other hand, was hitless with eight credited at-bats, but he did collect six walks and scored a run.
The Orioles will start Kyle Bradish to kick off the Texas series, and he will be followed by Tyler Wells and Kyle Gibson to round out the series.
There are 159 games left, and the season is young. It’s time to move on and get things moving in the right direction.
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