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Orioles run support suddenly nowhere to be found for No. 1 starter Burnes

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The Orioles were very welcoming to newcomer ace Corbin Burnes over his first five starts, scoring a total of 37 runs in those games to go 5-0. 

It’s been a different story since then as Baltimore was shut out in the second straight Burnes start on Tuesday night, a 3-0 loss at Washington. The Orioles have managed a total of two runs over his last three outings — all defeats — despite Burnes completing at least six innings and allowing no more than three runs in each start. 

Burnes may not have been pleased with the way his night concluded against the Nationals, but it’s tough to nitpick the two runs allowed in the seventh inning when the Orioles didn’t do as much as put a runner in scoring position after the first inning. Washington starter Trevor Williams — who isn’t exactly known for swing-and-miss ability — matched a career high with eight strikeouts over five shutout innings to earn the win, and the Nationals bullpen allowed only one hit the rest of the way. 

The Orioles entered Wednesday still leading the AL in runs scored per game, so it’s only a matter of time before the bats wake up with their No. 1 starter on the hill. 

As for Burnes, the 29-year-old entered Wednesday ranked 13th among qualified AL starters with a 2.83 ERA and sixth in innings pitched despite not being the most dominant version of himself since his 11-strikeout performance on Opening Day. However, it is worth noting that he’s logged his three highest swinging-strike totals of the season over his last three starts, reinforcing that his stuff has been good.

Skeptics will point out that the right-hander has completed seven innings just once thus far, but he did that only eight times last season and just once before May 27.

Even aces are handled differently in 2024. But they still need runs to win. 

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Hays, Rodriguez on mend 

Outfielder Austin Hays began his rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie in impressive fashion with a home run, a single, and a walk before being lifted in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s 17-1 win over Akron. 

Sidelined since straining his left calf on April 20, Hays would certainly benefit from some more rehab at-bats after going 5-for-45 to start the 2024 season and essentially becoming the fourth outfielder in the wake of Colton Cowser’s red-hot start. Veteran Ryan McKenna has performed well filling that reserve outfielder role in Hays’ place, hitting two home runs over the last week. 

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez told reporters in Washington that he has resumed playing catch and is feeling good after right shoulder inflammation landed him on the 15-day injured list last week. It remains unclear whether the 24-year-old will complete a rehab assignment before being activated, but with the pitching staff having allowed three runs or fewer in eight straight games, the Orioles need to make sure he’s 100% before returning him to the rotation. 

Rodriguez would be eligible to be activated as early as the middle of next week. 

City Connect woes 

The Orioles wore their City Connect uniforms on the road for the first time Tuesday, but the results were all too familiar as Baltimore fell to 5-9 donning the alternate look that was introduced last season. 

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Brandon Hyde’s club also sports a minus-41 run differential in games wearing the City Connect threads as more and more fans are calling for the uniform to be discarded. While it’s difficult to imagine Nike and Major League Baseball going along with that, baseball is a superstitious sport. 

In contrast, the Tampa Bay Rays have gone 5-0 in their City Connect uniforms since debuting them last week. 

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