Friday, June 2, 2023
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MLB Preview: Baltimore Orioles (20-10) at Kansas City Royals (8-23)


YESTERDAY’S NEWS: The Orioles fell to the Royals, 6-0, last night at Kauffman Stadium…Kansas City used a four-run seventh inning to break the game open… Anthony Santander had two of Baltimore’s six hits in the loss.

The O’s were shut out for the first time since October 1, 2022 at New York-AL.

At 1 hour, 59 minutes, marked the quickest Orioles game since September 15, 2010 vs. Toronto; marked the fourth-fastest nine-inning game in MLB in 2023.

Kyle Stowers threw out Nick Pratto at the plate from left field to end the second inning; the throw was 98.5 mph, the fastest outfield assist in MLB this season and the fastest outfield assist by an Oriole since Dariel Álvarez registered 99.5 mph on August 28, 2015 at Texas, per Statcast.

BURNING RUBBER: The O’s and Royals square off in a rubber game in today’s series finale…The Birds have gone 2-2 in rubber matches this season after going 11-11 in such games in 2022.

SEVENTH HEAVEN: With a win today, the Orioles would clinch their seventh straight series victory…Their current six-series winning streak is the longest since the team won eight series in a row from July 21 to August 13, 2014.

WHAT’S TRENDING: The O’s have won 12 of their last 15 games, 14 of their last 18, and 16 of their last 21…The .762 winning percentage (16-5) since April 10 is the best in the big leagues over that stretch…The 20-10 record is tied for the third-best start through the first 30 games of a season in team history (since 1954), done in 1969, 1992, 1994, 2005, and 2017, and trailing 21-9 in 1997 and 22-8 in 1970.

Baltimore owns the third-best record in MLB, trailing Atlanta (21-10) and Tampa Bay (25-6)

Last season, the Birds didn’t reach 20 wins until the 48th game on May 28; they did not reach 21 wins until the 50th game on May 30.

The 18 wins in April marked the most in team history (since 1954) and the most in a single month by the O’s since winning 19 in June 2016.

AGAINST THE ROYALS: Baltimore and Kansas City began a six-game season series Tuesday night with the first of three games at Kauffman Stadium…The Orioles will host the Royals for three games from June 9-11…The Birds went 4-3 against Kansas City in 2022, going 2-1 at Oriole Park and 2-2 at Kauffman Stadium.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Orioles are currently on an 11-day, 10-game road trip, their longest of the season, which began last Thursday night in Detroit…The O’s went 3-1 against the Tigers and are in the midst of three games at Kansas City from May 2-4 before playing three at Atlanta from May 5-7.

Baltimore’s 11-6 start is tied for the fifth-best start through 17 road games in O’s history (since 1954).

ON THE ATTACK: Baltimore is batting .259/.337/.427 (259-for-1001) with 54 doubles, three triples, 36 home runs, 158 runs scored, 153 RBI, and 118 walks to start the season…The O’s rank fifth in the AL and tied for eighth in MLB in runs scored after finishing 10th in the AL and 20th in MLB with 674 runs in 2022…The Birds rank among AL teams in walks (1st), batting average (4th), on-base percentage (4th), slugging percentage (4th), and OPS (4th, .764).

The Orioles lead the AL and rank fourth in MLB with 4.02 pitches per plate appearance; the O’s have five players in the top 19 in the AL in pitches per plate appearance: Adley Rutschman (T-8th, 4.23), Anthony Santander (T-8th, 4.23), Gunnar Henderson (11th, 4.21), Cedric Mullins (13th, 4.16), and Adam Frazier (19th, 4.10).

KING OF THE CASTLE: Ryan Mountcastle has reached base safely in 12 straight games, the longest active stretch by an Oriole and one shy of the team high this season (13, Rutschman, 4/3-16), and tied for the second-longest on-base streak of his career behind a 17-gamer from July 28 to August 26, 2021…His last six hits have gone for extra bases (4-2B, 2 HR) since April 30…Mountcastle has an extra-base hits in three straight games for the second time this year (also 4/9-11)…Prior to this stretch, his previous 13 knocks were all singles from April 14-29 (G2)…On Tuesday, he clubbed his team-leading seventh and eighth home runs to record his eighth career multi-homer game and second this season (also 4/11 vs. OAK).

He’s tied for third in the AL with eight home runs and ranks fifth in the AL with 26 RBI.

The long balls on Tuesday snapped his 15-game homer drought since April 13.

His homer off Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning on Tuesday had an exit velocity of 112.2 mph, the hardest-hit home run by an O’s batter since he had a 113.1 mph homer on September 16, 2021 vs. New York-AL; since 2020, Mountcastle owns three of the four hardest-hit home runs and five of the seven hardest-hit home runs by an Oriole, per Statcast.

He tallied five RBI on Tuesday, two more than he had in his previous 17 games combined, since he tied the Orioles record with nine RBI on April 11 vs. Oakland.

BIG TIME RUTSCH: Adley Rutschman is batting .313/.423/.464 (35-for-112) with five doubles, four homers, 15 runs scored, 18 RBI, and 23 walks (2 IBB) this year…He ranks among AL leaders walks (1st), on-base percentage (3rd), batting average (7th), and hits (T-7th)…Among MLB Leaders, he’s tied for third in walks and ranks eighth in on-base percentage…He has reached base safely 58 times this year, which leads the AL and ranks second in MLB behind Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr…Rutschman is the first Oriole to reach base 58 times in the first 30 games of a season since Manny Machado (41 H, 17 BB) also did so to begin 2018.

THE MOUNTAIN: Félix Bautista has been voted Major League Baseball’s American League Reliever of the Month for April…Marks the first career Reliever of the Month Award for Bautista and just the second by an Orioles pitcher since the award’s inception in 2005, joining Jim Johnson (May 2012)…Bautista made 14 appearances, including his outing on March 30 at Boston, and pitched to a 2-1 record with seven saves in nine opportunities with a 1.32 ERA (2 ER/13.2 IP) and 25 strikeouts…For the month, his seven saves were tied for third in the AL and fifth in MLB.


QUICK HITS: Slated to make his sixth start of the season, fourth on the road, and first career start against the Royals this afternoon…Made his MLB debut on April 5 at Texas, becoming the first Oriole to make his debut this season…Thirteen players (7 pitchers) made their debut for the O’s in 2022…Also became the first O’s pitcher to start his Major League debut since DL Hall on August 13, 2022, and the youngest O’s pitcher (23-140) to start his debut since Kevin Gausman (22-137) on May 23, 2013 at Toronto…Had his contract selected to the 40-man roster on November 15, 2022…Originally selected by the Orioles in the first round (No. 11 overall) of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft.

LAST TIME OUT: Earned his first career win in his last start at Detroit on April 29 (G2)…Worked 5.0 scoreless innings on two hits with one walk and a career-high nine strikeouts…Became the youngest O’s pitcher (23-164) to toss 5.0-ormore scoreless innings in back-to-back games since Dave Ford (21-259) from September 2-14, 1978, and the youngest O’s starter to accomplish the feat since Jack Fisher (21-188) did so in three straight starts from August 29 to September 8, 1960…Threw 91 pitches, 59 strikes.

PACKING A PUNCH: Rodriguez’s 34 strikeouts through his first five career starts are the most by an O’s rookie in his fi rst fi ve games in franchise history (since 1954)…Recorded a career-high nine punchouts on April 29 (G2) at Detroit, becoming the youngest O’s pitcher (23-164) to record nine-or-more strikeouts in a start since John Parrish (22-241) also fanned nine batters on July 24, 2000 vs. New York-AL…Entering today’s game, he ranks among rookie leaders in strikeouts (2nd, 34), innings pitched (8th, 24.1), and ERA (8th, 4.07).

ROAD TRIPPIN’: Making his fourth career road start today…Has pitched to a 3.60 ERA (6 ER/15.0 IP) with 22 strikeouts to four walks through his first three starts away from Oriole Park this season…Earned his first career win in his last road start at Detroit on April 29 (G2)…Has tossed exactly 5.0 innings in each of his three road starts and in four of his fi ve starts this season.


SHUTOUT SPECIAL: The Royals blanked the Orioles in a 6-0 win last night at Kauffman Stadium to mark their 1st shut out of the season…Zack Greinke recorded 5.0 scoreless innings on just 44 pitches, becoming the first pitcher to complete a start of at least 5.0 innings on 44 pitches or fewer since Greg Maddux needed just 43 pitches to complete 5.0 scoreless innings on Sept. 21, 2003…Vinnie Pasquantino homered off Kyle Gibson in the 4th to give Greinke the lead, and added RBI doubles in the 6th and 7th innings to match a career high with 3 hits while setting career highs in both RBI (3) and extra-base hits (3)…the Royals had 5 hits in a span of six batters in a 4-run 7th inning, including an RBI double by Kyle Isbel and an RBI triple by Bobby Witt Jr…that was more than enough offense, as the bullpen followed Zack’s 5.0 scoreless innings with 4.0 scoreless frames.

Nick Pratto had 3 hits, and is 9-for-18 in 5 games with the Royals since his recall from Omaha last Friday.

TWO FOR THE SHOW: Last night’s 1-hour, 59-minute game was the 4th-fastest 9-inning game in the Majors this season, and was the 4th-fastest 9-inning game at Kauffman Stadium since 1985…the last time the Royals played a game in Kansas City in less than 1 hour and 59 minutes was 16 years ago, on Sept. 20, 2008 vs. the White Sox (1:55)…the Royals have played 3,943 games at Kauffman Stadium since its doors opened in 1973, and only 19 of those games went 9 innings and ended in less time than the Royals and Orioles needed last night.

Last night’s 1:59 game came one day after Tuesday’s night’s 3:04 game, the Royals longest of 2023.

There have been 428 9-inning games in the Majors this season, and the average game time has been 2 hours, 37 minutes…the Royals 31 games—including 1 that required extra innings—have averaged 2 hours, 31 minutes, which is 1 minute faster than the Twins (2:32) for the lowest average in the Majors this season.

The 2023 season marks the 55th in franchise history, and only three seasons prior have the Royals had an average game time of 2 hours, 31 minutes or less: in 1969 (2:28), 1971 (2:28) and 1972 (2:31).

ONE TRUE OUTCOME: The Royals offense produced 13 hits last night, 1 off their season high, but did not strike out or draw a walk, a rare feat in today’s age of “three true outcomes”…the Royals last night became the first team in the Majors to go an entire game without a walk or strikeout in nine years, since the Athletics did it on July 1, 2014 at Detroit…last night was the 8,540th game in franchise history, and only the 7th that the Royals offense did not walk or strike out, and the first time in 15 years, since Aug. 17, 2003 vs. Minnesota.

The Royals have drawn only 73 walks in 31 games this year, the fewest among all 30 Major League teams.

The Royals have struck out 277 times this season, which ranks 13th most out of 30 teams in the Majors.

STARTING SOMETHING: Last night’s starting lineup of position players was exactly the same as the night before, marking the first time this season that the Royals did not use a unique lineup…Manager Matt Quatraro might be onto something, because over the last 2 games, the Royals have recorded 13 runs on 20 hits, including 11 for extra bases…the Pirates and Marlins are now the only teams who have used a unique lineup in every game this season…last season, the Tigers led the league with 161 unique lineups in 162 games.

WHERE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD: After splitting the 1st 2 games of this series, the Royals will play for the series win today vs. the Orioles…this marks the Royals 3rd rubber game in their last four series, after each of their first six series of the season were already decided going into the final game…the Royals lost their previous 2 series-deciding games on April 23 in Anaheim and April 26 at Arizona, and are seeking their 1st such win since last Sept. 25 vs. Seattle, their 2022 home finale in which they matched a franchise record by overcoming a 9-run deficit to win…the Royals have lost their last 2 series-deciding games vs. the Orioles and last won a rubber game vs. Baltimore four years ago, on Sept. 1, 2019 here at Kauffman Stadium…that was also the Royals last series win over the O’s, as they’re winless in four sets since, including 2 losses and 2 splits.

PASQUATCH SIGHTING: Vinnie Pasquantino recorded his 8th career 3-hit game last night and set career highs with 3 extra-base hits and 3 RBI, driving in half of the Royals 6 runs…he’s recorded at least 1 run, extra-base hit and RBI in each of his last 3 games and he has not struck out in his last 20 plate appearances, which is tied for the 4th-longest active streak in the Majors entering today…for the season, Vinnie’s .929 OPS is tied with Wander Franco for the 7th-best mark in the American League, and his 17 extra-base hits in 31 games are tied with Mike Trout and Rafael Devers for the 3rd most in the American League, trailing Matt Chapman (20) and Franco (18).

He has reached safely in 47 of his last 50 games dating back to Sept. 15, 2022, a stretch in which he leads the Majors (min. 200 PA) with a .337 batting average, ranks 2nd to Brandon Nimmo (.431) with a .425 on-base percentage and ranks 3rd with a .968 OPS, trailing only Trout (.991) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (.972).

HOME: The Royals win last night was their 1st at Kauffman Stadium since April 3 vs. Toronto—one month prior— and snapped a 10-game home losing streak, which fell 1 game shy of the franchise record of 11 consecutive home losses, done two times previously, from May 6-June 4, 2014 and Sept. 21, 2011-April 23, 2012…the Royals today are seeking their first series win at home since they took 2 of 3 from Seattle last Sept. 23-25, and a win today would mark their first home win streak since last Sept. 11-23, when they won 5 consecutive games here.

Tuesday night began a season-long, 10-game homestand that will include 3-game visits from the O’s and A’s, followed next week by a 4-game set with the White Sox…Monday’s off day was the only break in the schedule for the Royals during a stretch of 27 days, which began on April 21 and runs through May 17.

STIFF COMPETITION: Despite last night’s win, the Royals have had a tough start to the 2023 season, going 8-23 through 31 games…the schedule makers haven’t done the Royals any favors, as seven of their eight opponents—including Baltimore—are over .500 and have a combined record of 141-104 (.576), and six of those eight opponents are in 1st or 2nd place of their division…the only team the Royals have played this season that currently has a losing record is the Giants, who the Royals won 2 of 3 against on the first trip of the season.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: Today’s series finale with the Orioles marks the Royals 16th day game of the season, which accounts for exactly half of their 32 games including today…the Royals are scheduled for 64 day games this season, which would match 2021 for their 2nd most in a single season, trailing only last year, when they played 69 day games…the Royals 64 day games include 2 games—April 15 vs. Atlanta and last Friday at Minnesota—that were originally scheduled for 3:10 p.m., but did not start until after 5:00 p.m. local time due to rain…Elias has since confirmed that those games do still count as afternoon starts, as the rule defines day games as those scheduled to start at or before 5:00 p.m. local time, regardless of any type of delay that may suspend the actual start time.

JORDAN LYLES is making his 7th start of the season and 328th appearance (221st start) of his career today vs. the Orioles…he was originally selected by Houston in the 1st round (38th overall) of the 2008 Draft out of Hartsville High School (S.C.), and signed a two-year contract with the Royals on Dec. 28, 2022.

PURPLE RAIN: Jordan took his 5th loss in last Friday’s 8-6 defeat to the Twins at Target Field, in which he was charged with a season-high 7 runs on 7 hits— including 4 extra-base hits—and 4 walks in a season-low 4.0 innings, with 4 strikeouts…the Royals spotted Jordan with a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st, but the Twins answered in the bottom half with a Max Kepler leadoff home run…the Twins scored 2 more runs in the 2nd on 3 walks, a double and a sacrifice fly…after a scoreless 3rd inning, the Twins produced 4 runs on 4 extra-base hits, punctuated by a 2-out, 3-run home run by Jorge Polanco, to cap the 4th inning and end Lyles’ day.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes due to rain, pushing first pitch from 3:10 p.m. to 5:07, and temperature at first pitch was only 48 degrees.

Through 6 starts, Lyles has allowed 9 homers—the 2nd-highest total in the American League—including 7 in his last 3 starts and 4 starts with at least 2 HR.

WHAT WORKED? WHAT DIDN’T?: Lyles featured a solid mixture of his repertoire in his start vs. the Angels on April 23, throwing his fastball 38.2% of the time while mixing in his cutter (10.1%), curveball (21.4%) and slider (27.0%), with a couple of changeups and sinkers, and he mirrored that usage pretty closely vs. the Twins last Friday at Target Field, using his fastball 37.2% of the time, his cutter 8.5%, his curveball 20.2% and his slider 26.6%, while his sinker and changeup were mixed in marginally…his fastball continued to be his go-to, but although the Angels went 1-for-9 with a double off it, the Twins went 4-for-11 (.363) in at-bats ending in Lyles’ fastball, and all 4 hits went for extra bases…his off-speed fared much better vs. Minnesota, as they were a combined 2-for-7 off his changeup, slider, curve and cutter.

So far this season, Lyles has been able to control left-handed hitters with a steady dose of fastballs (47.0%) and curveballs (27.0%), which has limited them to a .209/.286/.478 slashline (14-for-67) with a 22.1 K% and 10.4 BB%.

Righties have seen a mixture of his repertoire, including his slider (41.0%), fastball (32.0%) and sinker (15.0%), which has led to them owning a .306/.338/.625 slashline (22-for-72) off him with a 17.5 K%, but also a 7.8 BB%.

ON STRIKE: Jordan issued 4 walks in his most recent start last Friday in Minnesota, his most since July 28, 2022 vs. Tampa Bay, snapping a run of 16 starts in between n which he issued only 20 walks to 375 batters, for a 5.3 BB%…his career BB% is 7.7, and he’s gotten better in that category with age, as his BB% of 7.1 since the start of 2021 ranks 4th in the American League (min. 65 starts), trailing only Cole Irvin (5.5%), José Berríos (5.8%) and Gerrit Cole (6.2%).

WORKHORSE: The Royals are the eighth club Lyles has played for at the Major League level and he has played in parts of 13 seasons with Houston
(2011-13), Colorado (2014-17), San Diego (2017-18), Milwaukee (2018-19), Pittsburgh (2019), Texas (2020-21), Baltimore (2022) and Kansas City (2023)… since the beginning of 2021, his 394.1 innings rank 3rd among American League pitchers, including a career-high 180.0 innings with Texas in 2021.

He was one of only four pitchers in the AL to record at least 175.0 innings from 2021-2022, along with Gerrit Cole, Cole Irvin and Robbie Ray.

Across his 13 seasons and 327 Major League appearances, he has only been placed on the Injured List on five occasions: June 10-29, 2019 (left hamstring tightness), March 28-April 4, 2019 (right side discomfort), June 24-July 29, 2018 (right elbow inflammation), June 1-end of season,
2015 (sprained left big toe) and June 5-Aug. 6, 2014 (fractured left hand).

FRIENDS TURNED FOES: Jordan has faced Baltimore three times in his career, in 2013 as a starter, in 2016 as a reliever and 2021 as a starter…all 3 of those games were at Camden Yards, and Lyles was charged with the loss in all 3…in his last most recent outing against the Orioles on Sept. 25, 2021 with Texas, he registered a quality start with 6.2 innings of 3-run ball with 4 strikeouts, but his Rangers only mustered 2 runs in a 3-2 defeat.

Last year, Lyles pitched for the Orioles and led the team with a career-high 32 starts in his only season with Baltimore, which tied for the 3rd most in the American League…he matched a career high with 12 wins and matched a career high with 13 quality starts for the second straight season.

FAR FROM HOME: Over the course of his 13-year career, Lyles has fared better when pitching in front of his home fans, going 36-40 (.474) with a 4.75 ERA (367 ER in 696.0 IP) in 166 appearances…in 161 appearances (112 starts) on the road, he’s 30-55 (.353) with a 5.53 ERA (409 ER in 665.2 IP)…in 2022 while pitching for the Orioles, Lyles pitched extremely well at Camden Yards, with a 3.47 ERA (32 ER in 83.0 IP) across 14 starts, but was hit hard on the road, where he posted a 5.25 ERA (56 ER in 96.0 IP) in 18 starts, but he did go 7-8 and only 10 AL pitchers had more road wins.

DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Lyles has been nothing if not a consistently strong defender, averaging less than 1 defensive miscue per season during his 13-year career (12 in 1361.2 IP)…he has not committed an error since Sept. 22, 2020, and has made 71 appearances (69 starts) since.

His 394.1 innings without an error since the start of 2021 are the most among all pitchers, ahead of Lucas Giolito (375.0) and Max Scherzer (347.1).

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