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American League East Playoff Team Off to a Hot Start

Fresh off a 101-win season, the reigning AL East champs, the Baltimore Orioles are off to a hot start in 2024. A lot has changed in Birdland since the heartbreaking loss to the Texas Rangers in the AL Divisional Series. The Orioles lost their All-Star closer Félix Bautista to Tommy John surgery, then starters Kyle Bradish and John Means began the season on the injured-list. That left Baltimore to take action to fill those holes.

They went out and signed veteran closer and nine-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel in December. Then acquired their new ace, former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, in a blockbuster trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. All while John Angelos sold the Orioles to Baltimore-native David Rubenstein, with the Rubenstein-era officially beginning one day before Opening Day.

The Orioles dominated the Grapefruit League, and are off to a hot start four games into the new season. Burnes dominated on Opening Day, making franchise history with 11 strikeouts in his Orioles debut. Grayson Rodriguez delivered a career-high-tying nine strikeouts while throwing six innings of one-run baseball on Saturday. Despite falling to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, Tyler Wells recorded Baltimore’s third consecutive quality start to open the season. 

The Orioles are Cooking Already in 2024

Los Angeles got to Wells early on Sunday, scoring all four runs in the first two innings. Wells retired the final 14 batters he faced including striking out the side in his sixth and final inning. Angels’ left-hander Reid Detmers held Baltimore to just three hits, scoring their lone run on a bases-loaded walk in the second. The Orioles scored 25 runs in their 2-1 series victory over the Angels to begin the season. Dean Kremer took the mound on Monday as the Orioles began a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

The Beat Goes On

Kremer struck out five while allowing three runs on three hits and a walk over 5.1 innings of work. Baltimore responded to the Royals’ three-run third inning with a three-run inning of their own in the fourth. The Orioles took a 4-3 lead in the eighth after an RBI single by Ryan Mountcastle. That gave Baltimore’s new closer, Craig Kimbrel, a chance to get the save in his Orioles debut. But his first save opportunity as an Oriole was spoiled by a single and a speedy pinch-runner tied the game in the ninth. Jordan Westburg was the hero of the day delivering a two-run walk-off homer lifting the Orioles to their third victory of the season.

“We’re chomping at the bit this year,” said Grayson Rodriguez. “We’ve got something to prove.”

Four games into the season and that is quite clear. Baltimore is attempting to win their first two series of the season for the first time since 2019.

Main Photo: © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


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