Big lead gets away, the game doesn't: O's rally late to beat K.C., take another series

KANSAS CITY – After the top of the third today, the Orioles were enjoying an 8-1 lead against the Kansas City Royals and former teammate Jordan Lyles. Maybe this would be their rare laughter - a blowout with no late game or even mid-game drama.


By the end of the Kansas City fourth, the Royals were hitting rookie right-hander Grayson Rodriguez hard and their 8-1 deficit was now just 8-6. There was nothing to laugh about now. Would the O’s even hold on and get another series win before heading to Atlanta?

Nope, also.

Or so we thought.

After pulling within 8-7 with a run in the fifth, Kansas City pushed two across against the O's bullpen in the seventh to take a 9-8 lead after trailing by seven.

But the Orioles had a comeback in them, scoring twice in the eighth off lefty Aroldis Chapman and they added three runs in the ninth to steal this very wild game, 13-10 and win a seventh consecutive series. They head to Atlanta with a 21-10 record and they are 5-2 on this trip.

“That was a grind," a relieved manager Brandon Hyde said. "Like going to the dentist, a little bit. We’ve got an 8-1 lead, swing the bat extremely well and unfortunately we let them back in the game. But give our guys a ton of credit for not getting down, staying with it and really grinding those last two innings. Character win definitely. A gut-check win."

In the Kansas City seventh, batting down 8-7, Maikel Garcia doubled, stole third and Michael Massey walked. A bunt RBI single by Kyle Isbel off Danny Coulombe tied it 8-8. One out later, Bobby Witt Jr. punched an RBI single into right off Yennier Cano for the 9-8 lead. 

“It would seem to be the nature to be deflated (at that point)," said Hyde. "And our guys were picking each other constantly. Kind of fell asleep there in the middle innings offensively, but we did a lot of really good things those last two innings. And that won us the ballgame, just really good at-bats in the last couple of innings."

Chapman came on for the O's eighth and walked the first two batters and allowed four stolen bases and balked in the inning as the O's moved back ahead. Adam Frazier walked, was balked to second and stole third. After his walk, Jorge Mateo stole second. Then Ramon Urias pinch-hit for Gunnar Henderson and punched a huge two-run single into center for the 10-9 lead.

“I’ve faced him a couple of times in the past, I know he can go wild once in a while. Just stay in the middle, look for something in the middle, not trying to do too much. We know he can throw hard, but still we have to stay short to the ball," Urias said of his approach there.

In the ninth, Urias did it again. His ground-rule double with the bases loaded, which looked like it would score three, added two to the lead and it was 12-9. Four RBIs in the last two innings for Urias. The No. 8 spot in the order produced six RBIs. The O's 13th run scored on a wild pitch.  

“I think it’s just staying ready during the game," Urias said of his late-game production. "Today early in the game I thought no chance I would get into the game. But you have to stay focused, know what’s going on and that’s part of it.

“We were a little upset (blowing the big lead), but it’s part of the game. Sometimes we will struggle like that and we have to fight all the way to the end.

“We fight every game. Every guy is involved in what we are doing."

The O's twin towers in Cano and Felix Bautista finally restored some order on the mound. After getting the lead, Cano pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Bautista, pitching for the first time since Saturday, allowed a run but stranded two runners to end the three-hour, 24-minute marathon.

Earlier, the Orioles built the big lead off Lyles by going 5-for-15 through the third inning with a double and two homers and they were 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Anthony Santander and Henderson hit two-run homers. And, a night after getting shutout, which followed a night with 11 runs, the O’s were scoring big again.

Baltimore got a break in the first when right fielder MJ Melendez dropped Ryan Mountcastle’s flyball for a two-base error. Then Santander cranked his two-run shot on a 3-0 fastball. He hit No. 3 a distance of 406 feet off Lyles for the 2-0 lead.

That lead became 5-0 in the second on Cedric Mullins’ three-run double. Ahead of that hit, Adam Frazier singled, Henderson walked and James McCann was hit. Mullins then drilled a 1-1 curveball 411 feet off the center field fence to give him 26 RBIs for the year.

Mullins began today batting .462 this year (12-for-26) with a 1.496 OPS with runners in scoring position. That huge double made him 3-for-3 this year with a double, homer and 11 RBIs with the bases loaded.

The lead grew to 8-1 when they scored three in the third on Jorge Mateo’s bloop RBI single and Henderson’s two-run shot, No. 3 which went 425 to right center.

But O’s right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, making his sixth MLB start today, was hit hard. He entered the game with 14 straight scoreless innings and added one to that in the first inning.

But Grayson would give up six runs and eight hits – both season worsts – in 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing of the season. His ERA ballooned to 5.46 over a 77-pitch outing. Kansas City hit nine balls in play at 95 mph or better against him and hit six balls 100 mph plus.

“Obviously not what we’re looking for. But the offense did a great job, especially starting out the game and being there all game. … Wasn’t what I was looking for on the mound today. Just glad the offense had my back," said Rodriguez.

The Royals would score one in the second, three in the third and two in the fourth to trail 8-6 and then added that run in the fifth and the O’s lead was down to 8-7.

The Baltimore offense had dried up and the Royals kept pounding Rodriguez. Their comeback featured Freddy Fermin’s first MLB homer in the third and a Salvador Perez two-run shot that inning. Isbel hit a solo homer in the fourth when they added two and Massey’s RBI double off Cionel Perez in the fifth made it 8-7.

The Orioles managed to hold the lead through the last of the sixth even though K.C. had second and third with no outs and bases loaded with two outs. Lefty Danny Coulombe fanned two lefties to keep Baltimore ahead.

Then they pulled it out with the five late runs. In the end, a big lead was blown, but the game was not. The Orioles produced their 11th comeback win among 21 victories. Last year they got win No. 21 in Game No. 50 as they were 21-29 on May 30.

On to Atlanta. 



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