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Adley Rutschman is so consistent he’s almost ‘boring’. That’s what the Orioles love about him.

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Adley Rutschman is so consistent he’s almost ‘boring’. That’s what the Orioles love about him.

There were times last season Buck Britton had to take a step back and realize what he was seeing. Then the manager of the Double-A Bowie Baysox, he watched Orioles top prospect Adley Rutschman play for 80 games. And over the course of those 80 games, the spectacular consistency from Rutschman would sometimes become less spectacular over time.

It was expected.

“We used to joke about it last year that it’s kind of boring, you know?” Britton said. “Cause he went 2-for-4, that’s what he was doing anyway; 1-for-3, drove in two runs. Like, I say that, it’s very impressive, but you know what you’re going to get from this guy. Adley was just being Adley today. It wasn’t like, ‘Wow, did you see Adley?’ You look at the numbers, you’re like, ‘Damn, this guy has been consistent the whole year.’”

That’s what stands out to many of those who have played with or coached Rutschman in the minor leagues. He’s the top prospect in all of baseball, a 24-year-old catcher who received his call-up to the Orioles (16-24) on Saturday — signaling the next and most significant step of the rebuild.

But beyond the glossy numbers — with an on-base percentage of .427 across three minor league levels this season — is an underlying beat that hardly moves the needle. His heart rate doesn’t soar. He’s not a spotlight-seeking star, even if the spotlight finds him anyway.

For the Orioles, that’s what makes them even more encouraged. The production is there. But the day-to-day consistency? That’s never in question.

“He’s a confident player,” Triple-A Norfolk outfielder and teammate Robert Neustrom said. “You see it in everything he does. He’s confident. He doesn’t stress too much. When he’s in the game, he’s locked in. I admire it, I know a lot of other people do, too. But I look up to the way he plays. And, man, he looks mid-swing.”

The call-up of Rutschman signals the next step in a rebuild that began in earnest in 2018, setting up for the top selection in the 2019 draft. That’s when executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, in his first season, chose Rutschman out of Oregon State.

The direction has always led to the majors. It might’ve come sooner had a tricep injury not sidelined Rutschman at the start of major league spring training. He needed to ramp back up, beginning with a rehabilitation assignment last month with High-A Aberdeen, where he caught left-hander DL Hall, another top prospect making a return from injury with eyes on the big leagues.

“Being able to throw to a good backstop like that is always a great feeling,” Hall said, “to know you have a top-tier guy back there that’s going to help you get some balls called strike.”

Rutschman rose the ranks quickly, making a cameo appearance with Double-A Bowie before joining Triple-A Norfolk. Across three levels, he hit .309 with a .942 OPS and more walks (11) than strikeouts (7). Rutschman clubbed two home runs this week, but he also caught right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in the majors.

In seven starts this season where Rutschman is catching for Rodriguez or Hall, they’ve combined to post a 1.80 ERA and have struck out 39.8% of the batters they’ve faced. Without Rutschman, Rodriguez and Hall have a 5.11 ERA in six starts, with all but one of those outings by Rodriguez. They’ve still posted a 34.6% strikeout rate in those starts.

“Somebody that knows me pretty well,” Rodriguez said. “Games go pretty smoothly with him behind the dish.”

When Rutschman first arrived at Triple-A this season, joining the Tides during a road trip in Nashville, Neustrom was surprised with how fluid Rutschman’s swing already was. The catcher had missed time, yet there was no sign of any malaise.

“That’s the thing about Adley, right?” Neustrom said. “When you watch him, he always looks mid-swing. When he came into spring training, he looked mid-swing. And when he came up here last week in Nashville, it was like, ‘You haven’t been playing?’”

He hadn’t. And perhaps that showed itself to start, with a slow week at the plate for the Tides. But he quickly righted himself. All the while, Rutschman’s demeanor didn’t change.

“He’s a joy to be around,” Britton said. “Smiles all the time. Does his work, prepares and plays in the game. And that’s part of it, too. Like, man, you have someone with this skill set, it’s just, it’s not about Adley. He couldn’t care less about what he does. He genuinely wants to win and he wants other guys around him to do well, too.”

The expectations heaped on Rutschman are immense. For a fan base starved of much hope at the major league level since the 2018 trade that sent infielder Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rutschman is a light in the dark.

The fan base has clamored for this moment. And now it’s here.

“Adley’s awesome,” left-hander Nick Vespi said. “He’s exactly what the Orioles want out of him.”

Even if what the Orioles get might become somewhat “boring” after a while, when the consistency becomes more expected than impressive.

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

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