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Marlins showed interest in acquiring Richard Bleier before outbreak, says Orioles GM Mike Elias

Marlins showed interest in acquiring Richard Bleier before outbreak, says Orioles GM Mike Elias

In an effort to acquire actual major-league baseball players for their roster following a coronavirus outbreak within their clubhouse, the Marlins traded for Orioles reliever Richard Bleier Saturday for a player to be named later. 

The player Baltimore will receive in the deal is not on the Marlins' 60-man player pool for the 2020 season. Bleier appeared in just two games for the Orioles in 2020, striking out four batters in three innings of work. 

While the Marlins were certainly put in a position to need any player they could get their hands on, Miami apparently had interest in the 33-year-old lefty before their roster was obliterated by coronavirus. 

RELATED: KOHL STEWART 'PAUSES' 2020 PARTICIPATION

"Before their most recent crisis began, they had had interest in Richard,” Orioles GM Mike Elias said, per BaltimoreBaseball.com. “He’s been a leader in the bullpen. He pitched through injury at times. He’s an Oriole. It’s tough seeing him leave. It’s part of the process and the transition that this club is going through. We know things like this happen. We did it last year. It’s happening this year.”

Now, Bleier will have to turn around and pitch against his former team. Major League Baseball announced Saturday that the Marlins and Orioles will play each other four times in three days in the coming week. Games begin on Tuesday, August 4 and will run through Thursday, August 6.

Miami is shorthanded and will need their pitchers to eat as many innings as possible, so Baltimore should expect to see plenty of their old friend. 

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WATCH: Orioles win in extra innings, celebrate social distance style 

WATCH: Orioles win in extra innings, celebrate social distance style 

Saturday night got weird at Camden Yards. 

By the 11th inning, the Orioles had used six pitchers, had catcher Bryan Holaday playing first base, Rio Ruiz — who had never played the outfield — in left field and had already executed Major League Baseball’s first ever inning-starting double play.

And then Pat Valaika, who had just 10 at-bats entering Saturday’s game, hit a single to right field to give the Orioles a 5-4 win, as well as a series win, over the Rays. They're now 4-3 on the season.

“It was exciting,” starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc said. “I can say that because we came out on top, but I think I would feel the same way even if it went the other direction. Me, personally, anything that can keep a game from going 19 innings, I’m all for it.”

The Orioles, of course, had to celebrate Valaika’s hit in a bit of unique fashion with social distancing protocols in place throughout the league. 

Instead of a water-cooler shower and hugs and high-fives all around Valaika, the Orioles ran onto the field and chased him around — socially distanced, of course — and pumped their arms in the air, all running around the infield.

It was just another weird storyline in the 2020 season. Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game:

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Extra Inning Madness

The Orioles’ extra inning win was, for obvious reasons, wild. 

It was the team’s, and manager Brandon Hyde’s, first time with the new extra inning rule that allows for a runner on second base to start the 10th inning. The Orioles promptly followed that up with a double play, the first to start an inning in major league history. 

“I’ve never done it before,” Hyde said of the extra inning rule. “I’m glad to get that one under my belt. It's definitely different, but I did enjoy it. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’m glad we came out with a win. It makes it exciting for sure, it’s exciting for the fans, it’s pretty nerve-wracking in the dugout. But we got two double plays out of it defensively.”

Hyde added that he thought teams could be more aggressive in extra innings, specifically teams that are on the road. That aggressiveness, however, led to a double play at the start of the 10th, which put the Orioles in the record book.

“So, make sure we write that down,” Hyde said with a big smile.'

RELATED: MIKE ELIAS: 'THIS WEEK HAS BEEN A SCARE, I THINK FOR EVERYONE'

Bullpen slowly settling in? Not quite, just yet

The Orioles’ bullpen is still in a bit of a flux, especially considering the midnight trade of Richard Bleier after Friday’s win over the Rays.  

Evan Phillips relieved LeBlanc and pitched one of his better outings as a pro. He went 1 ⅔ innings, allowed one hit and struck out two with zero walks. It was a sign of life from the Orioles’ bullpen. 

But what followed wasn’t very inspiring. 

Shawn Armstrong committed a throwing error to second base, which put runners on first and second with no out. He allowed a hit, two runs and a walk as the Rays cut the lead to 4-2 in the eighth inning. Armstrong left with the bases loaded. Miguel Castro followed, but the Rays tied the score.

The bullpen held from there, as they worked through the Rays lineup without fail through the rest of the night. It was the third night in the row the bullpen had to work five or more innings.

Still, despite the rough eighth inning, there were still some bright spots for the Orioles in the bullpen, which is still taking shape.

“Bullpen is really fresh, just let the Rays know it’s super fresh for tomorrow,” Hyde quipped. “I think we’re OK. We’ve got a couple guys that can give us some length (on Sunday) with Eshelman here and Hess here.”

What does the future hold past Sunday?

Well, no one really knows.

The Orioles are set to host the Rays once more on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards, where they’ll go for a series sweep over their division rivals. Aside from that, the Orioles’ future is now very much in the air.

They’ll have Monday off before the Marlins come to Camden Yards for four games scheduled in three days from Tuesday through Thursday. And, to the shock of no one, they’ll have another obstacle to work through. Rain is in the forecast on Tuesday, which could even further complicate the schedule general manager Mike Elias said is “on wheels.”

Not only that, reports surfaced that the season could shut down by Monday, if the league doesn’t have a grip on coronavirus by then. MLB has already postponed the Cardinals-Brewers doubleheader, which was scheduled for Sunday. 

ESPN’s Jeff Passan said the Cardinals were, “the most important team in baseball right now,” as it related to the future of the major league season. If numbers continue to go up, the season could be in peril. 

If numbers go down, they’ll likely be able to play on. 

While the Cardinals don’t affect the Orioles directly, they could hold the key to the Orioles playing baseball games next week.

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Orioles general manager Mike Elias: ‘This week has been a scare, I think for everyone’

Orioles general manager Mike Elias: ‘This week has been a scare, I think for everyone’

The Orioles schedule last week, along with the rest of Major League Baseball, took a wild ride as the league had to manage a coronavirus outbreak on the Marlins. 

As a result the Orioles, who were scheduled to play the Marlins four a four-game set starting Monday, were along for the ride.

Now, baseball has readjusted the schedule for the Marlins to come to Baltimore on Tuesday to make up the four-game set they missed last week.

“This week has been a scare I think for everyone,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Saturday on a Zoom call with reporters. “I just hope we learn from it. We’re ramping up and evolving with our protocols. This is something I think the entire baseball world is gonna get better at. Certainly the Marlins and the Cardinals news, it’s a little scary.”

The league has been in a state of flux since last Monday, when the Marlins had an outbreak of COVID-19 in their organization. The Orioles were the team on their schedule.

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Since then, the league has changed the schedule so the Marlins will play four games in three days in Baltimore next week.

“This year, we’re adjusting on the fly,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s a dodge and weave. I think every day there’s something new. Tomorrow there’s probably going to be something else. We’re staying flexible. I knew there was something going to have to be on the schedule at some point this next week. I wake up in the morning, I see what’s happening around the world and around sports and around our sport, put on my fireman’s hat and put out fires until 7:35.”

Both Elias and Hyde said they had no concerns about the Marlins coming to Baltimore, as long as MLB gives the OK.

“We’re not worried about the Marlins coming here,” Elias said. “Everyone that’s here is going to have gone through testing protocols more than the general public does. On top of that, we’ve got our own protocols here where we’re hopeful, if ever, someone is in the building that is carrying the virus that these protocols will prevent a spread if we adhere to them.”

One of those games will be a doubleheader, which will be played by way of two, seven-inning games as a way of getting as many games in as possible. It’s just the latest way MLB is trying to fit the season in, by any way it can.

“Obviously, the schedule is on wheels,” Elias said. “But we’re working on it and we’re going to try and make it work.”

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