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Twelve Orioles Thoughts following series win over Philadelphia

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With the Orioles having won two of three games from the NL-leading Philadelphia Phillies, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. What a weekend. I’ve covered good baseball, too much bad baseball, and everything in between over the last 15 years, but that was as entertaining and exciting as a series gets for mid-June. These clubs — and fan bases — meeting again in four months would be tremendous. 

2. Brandon Hyde did his best to downplay the big-picture importance entering this series, but he couldn’t help but praise the club’s resolve and response to Friday’s extra-inning loss and the disappointing Kyle Bradish news. Of course, that’s been an Orioles theme for the better part of two years now. 

3. Unfortunately, the most significant weekend development was Bradish’s elbow problems resurfacing. This was always a possibility — if not the most likely outcome — when news of his UCL sprain first surfaced, but Bradish had looked dominant since returning. You really feel for him, and it’s an undeniable hit to Baltimore’s upside. 

4. Though there were numerous standout efforts in the series, what Grayson Rodriguez did on the heels of Bradish going on the IL and the bullpen covering six innings Friday was massive. To complete seven frames — after an unnerving beginning — was a bulldog performance indicative of a maturing pitcher. Great work. 

5. The showdown between Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler — who finished top two in the 2021 NL Cy Young voting — didn’t live up to the hype, but the Orioles ace did his part. Wheeler had allowed six homers over his first 14 starts before Baltimore clubbed four off him. 

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6. Burnes did what he always does by logging his 10th straight quality start to extend a career-high stretch and give him the longest streak by an Oriole since 2007. We’ll see what happens rotation-wise by the trade deadline, but Burnes and Rodriguez are still a very formidable 1-2 punch. 

7. Anthony Santander didn’t get off to the 2024 start he envisioned in a contract year. But Saturday’s two-run homer following Bryan Baker’s critical 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning marked the series turning point. Santander is having a monster June and entered Monday sixth in the AL in long balls.

8. In addition to homering Sunday and driving in a run in all three games, Adley Rutschman now has as many walks in June as he had in all of April or May. Being more aggressive has led to increased power, but I suspect his walk rate finds a happy medium. 

(Adley Rutschman’s 2024 splits by month entering Monday)

9. Gunnar Henderson is a superstar and MVP candidate, but Jordan Westburg may be earning a reputation for being your favorite player’s favorite player. Though June has been his worst month of the season, he’s still managed a rock-solid .765 OPS. Sunday’s three-run homer slammed the door on Philadelphia’s comeback aspirations.

10. With the Orioles having played 17 straight days before Monday, defense is an area where some fatigue has occasionally shown up, including Sunday’s ninth inning. It’s been sloppier than usual, but this club is plowing through a stretch of 43 games in 45 days. They’re 20-10 thus far. Not bad. 

11. Dean Kremer began his rehab assignment on Sunday, allowing two earned runs and four hits over 3 2/3 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. His ability to give this club consistent innings upon returning becomes even more critical in the wake of Bradish going down.

12. This was the Phillies’ first visit to Camden Yards since 2018, and they rank second in the majors in attendance, meaning the easy trip down I-95 was appealing. You never want visiting fans having such an overwhelming presence in your ballpark, but the atmosphere was electric — including the fighter jet. 

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