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What does MLB's 60-game season mean for the Orioles?

What does MLB's 60-game season mean for the Orioles?

At long last, it appears the Orioles will play baseball in 2020. 

The only question now, is how?

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball will set a schedule for the 2020 season that will be 60 games long. The season will start the weekend of July 24 with a “spring” training opening on July 1.

While there aren’t a ton of specifics that have been released as to what the shortened season could look like, it’s easy to imagine the season going either very well or very poorly for the Orioles. And depending on your point of view, that could mean a lot of different things.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll avoid whatever draft lottery MLB could have put in place for the 2021 season. While nothing had leaked about what the draft could look like next summer, there won’t be any worry as to what the order would be next summer with a completed season. 

Now, the order will get decided on the field like it does each season. And for a team that’s not projected to do very much, 162-game season or otherwise, that’s welcome news. The Orioles will now be able to “earn” their likely early first-round pick in next summer’s draft. 

As for the most important part of the Orioles farm system, players drafted in the 2019 or 2020 drafts will almost certainly not see the field this summer. Still, it could give a 60-game glimpse into the outlook of Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays and a few other prospects looking to make their name in the major leagues. 

With no big-time free agents set to hit the free agent market this winter either, the Orioles won’t be impacted by a limited amount of funds available for the major league team. 

Still, Baltimore doesn’t have much major league ready talent at its disposal in the minor leagues, so if rosters are expanded or injuries and sickness take over the team, it will be apparent who the Orioles have that could make an impact at the major league level quickly. 

In that regard, a shortened season could be a benefit to the Orioles as expanded rosters could give the team an extended look at some talent in preparation for the 2021 season. Of course, the team’s current roster doesn’t account for the players, if any, that will sit out the summer out of precaution.

But no matter who plays on the field for the Orioles, the outlook of the franchise likely isn’t going to change much, if at all, in the next few months — no matter what happens on the field. 

The Orioles still aren’t going to be very talented compared to other major league clubs, and now with a shot to get some young players at least two months on the field, they’ll take every opportunity to try and get those players experience before the season concludes.  

Baltimore was 19-41 after 60 games in 2019, which would put the team at the bottom of the league standings once again. In a weird way, a winning streak that puts the Orioles near 25 wins could actually end up hurting the team in the long-term. 

While it might be fun to see the Orioles play competitive baseball for a few weeks, the franchise would be better served with another year of subpar baseball.

And for the Orioles, that’s still the aim of the franchise in 2020.

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Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

Three home runs, Rio Ruiz flip, power Orioles to series victory and sweep opportunity vs. Phillies

With two outs in the eight inning and the Phillies threatening to tie the score, Andrew McCutchen hit a sharp ground ball to the left side of the infield. 

Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz dove to his left, corralled the ball, and as he was falling, flipped a backhand shovel that rolled to second base just in time for the final out of the inning. It was one of the Orioles' best plays, on offense or defense, all season long. 

The standout defensive play kept the Orioles ahead 5-4, a score they’d win by, in their second straight win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It was the team's second-straight series win.

“That was a huge play,” Chance Sisco said. “It was crazy. Just going into the hole, obviously, is a tough play. And then I don’t know what happened, he stumbled a little bit and fell to the ground. I don’t know what it takes just to get that ball out of his glove. Just a great play.”

Ruiz’s defensive play assuredly prevented a run, and with a bullpen that had to work big innings, that play’s significance cannot be overstated.

“He’s just reading the ball really well, his feet are great, he’s just playing outstanding defense at third base,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That play that he made in the hole, that was game-saving and really won us the game.”

Ruiz had a good night at the plate as well, as he hit a solo home run — as did Anthony Santander and Sisco, to lead the way offensively for the red-hot Orioles.

RELATED: HOW SOON IS TOO SOON FOR THE O'S TO START THINKING ABOUT THE DEADLINE?

After falling down 3-1, they rallied to tie the game in the fourth inning then took the lead in the fifth. An insurance run, by way of Sisco’s home run, gave the Orioles a two-run lead entering the eighth inning. 

Then, they held on — aided by Ruiz’s absurd defensive play — to push their record to 9-7 with a chance for a sweep over the Phillies on Thursday.

Through 16 games of the 2020 season, the Orioles have already surpassed some people’s expectations of what figured to be a year without any notable or exciting games. 

Now, they’re just riding the wave.

“It seems like good teams have different guys on different nights,” Hyde said. “And right now, that’s what we have. We had some big hits tonight. Chance Sisco, Smitty. Middle relief is what won us the game, to me. We pitched well and we got enough runs to hold on.”

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Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

Orioles 3B Rio Ruiz makes jaw-dropping play to preserve win over Phillies

A night after the Philadelphia Phillies dropped a game to the Orioles due to defensive mistakes, Baltimore did the opposite to preserve a win on Wednesday.

Up 5-4 in the eighth inning, the Orioles found themselves in a jam with runners on first and second with two outs and Andrew McCutchen up at the plate. The Philadelphia outfielder slapped a ball between third base and shortstop that should have probably gotten through and tied the game.

But, unfortunately for the Phillies and luckily for the Orioles, Rio Ruiz was at the hot corner.

Not only was the range to stop the ball impressive, but Ruiz then had the instinct to flip the ball to second for the force out. The incredible play essentially saved the game and allowed Baltimore to pick up a 5-4 victory.

RELATED: PHILLIES ANALYST CALLS LOSS TO O'S 'EMBARRASSMENT TO BASEBALL' 

Ruiz also launched a solo homer in the top of the fifth inning to help the Orioles break a 3-3 tie, so it was an all-around impressive performance for the third baseman.

Manny Machado who? Okay, maybe not. But, one thing is true: You can't spell "Orioles" without "Rio." At least on Wednesday night. 

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