Bradish returns, Mateo and McKenna homer off Rodón as O's take series (updated)

Orioles right-hander Kyle Bradish fired a 96.3 mph two-seam fastball to Yankees leadoff hitter Anthony Volpe for a called strike. And not only was Game 4 of this series underway, but so was Bradish’s first big league outing since last October’s American League Division Series.

He was activated today off the 15-day injured list after dealing with a right UCL sprain that led to him getting a platelet-rich plasma injection in January. After three minor league rehab games, he was back on a big league mound for the first time since he faced the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS at Oriole Park on Oct. 7.

Bradish’s return was no doubt a lift today for the Orioles and he gave them a solid outing. They used that, a couple of home runs from unexpected places and Jordan Westburg’s two-run triple to beat the Yankees 7-2 in front of 27,299 sun-splashed fans and take three of four in this series.

The Orioles began this series down a game in the AL East, but they leave it at 20-11 and leading the Yankees (20-13) by a game.

The O’s offense had scored just six runs on 16 hits the first three games of this series, but they broke out today versus Yankees lefty Carlos Rodón, who entered with a 2.48 ERA.

In a 1-1 tie in the O’s fourth – Ryan Mountcastle had hit a solo homer an inning earlier – both Jorge Mateo and Ryan McKenna went deep for a 3-1 lead. Those indeed are unexpected homer sources off such a tough lefty. But Mateo drilled one 425 feet and McKenna hit one 403 for a two-run edge.

It was Mateo’s first homer since Aug. 20, which was an inside-the-park homer. His last over the fence was April 30, 2023 at Detroit. McKenna’s last homer was June 24, 2023 versus Seattle.

That two-run edge that would grow when the O’s scored four more in the fifth and knocked Rodón from this game. Adley Rutschman started the inning with a double to left and scored on Mountcastle’s single for a 4-1 lead. After a groundout, Westburg drilled a two-run triple in the gap for a 6-1 lead on a ball he hit 105 mph off the bat. He would score on Mateo’s second RBI on a sac fly to left to make it 7-1.

They scored more runs today over innings three through five than in the previous three games.

As for Bradish, it was a nice sight for the Orioles to have him back this afternoon, made better when he seemingly rolled through a 1-2-3 first inning on just nine pitches. Or so we thought. But a catcher’s interference call on James McCann on an apparent Aaron Judge groundout extended the inning and then a hit by pitch and walk followed.

A lot of work to do for his first game back.

But Bradish got Alex Verdugo on a grounder to strand the bases loaded, now needing 23 pitches in the inning.

He would go 4 2/3 innings today, allowing four hits and one run with two walks, five strikeouts and one hit batter, throwing 84 pitches. Five more than in his last minor league rehab game.

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead on Anthony Rizzo’s RBI hit in the third and then Bradish’s final pitching line was helped by Keegan Akin’s good work in the Yankees fifth.

After two were out, Juan Soto tripled into the left-field corner and Judge walked. Akin came on for Rizzo and got him to pop up, stranding two runners at a time when the O’s lead was just two runs.

Losing pitcher Rodón is now 2-2 with an ERA of 3.68. He had allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts and three in the other one. But today he allowed eight hits and seven runs (six earned) in four-plus innings on 80 pitches.

Coming into this game, he had allowed three homers all year over 32 2/3 innings and just one homer in his last four games over 23 innings.

Then the O’s hit three off him today, all in the third and fourth innings. The Orioles are now 13-2 when they hit two or more homers and 8-2 when they mash three or more as they did today.

The Orioles are now 12-0-4 their past 16 series in the AL East, a streak of 16 series without losing one, the longest run in club history. It dates to early last April.

Also the Orioles have now won or tied four straight series versus the Yankees for the first time since September 2015 to June 2016.

The O’s got a key starting pitcher back today and then won handily over the Yankees to win this series. A feel-good day in Birdland.

For the series, Orioles pitching allowed just six runs on 22 hits. The starters gave up five runs over 23 1/3 innings and the Baltimore bullpen allowed just one run over 12 2/3 innings.

The Orioles play at Cincinnati on Friday night when lefty Cole Irvin (2-1, 3.49 ERA) faces right-hander Hunter Greene (1-2, 3.63 ERA). Lefty John Means will make his season debut on Saturday night.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Bradish: “Great to see him back. Looks like he hasn’t lost a beat. Just threw outstanding. It was really coming out early, especially in the first innings. A bunch of 97s up there. The ball was going everywhere in the strike zone and he had a ton of movement to his fastball. Good slider and breaking ball. It was awesome to see him back and he had great stuff for his first time out."

Hyde on the first inning: “It was a weird, weird start to the game. Little bit of everything. Could have gotten hairy there in the first inning, so for him to keep his composure and get out of that with a zero, that was huge.”

Hyde on how Bradish has handled his rehab and return: “I knew how disappointed he was to not be able to pitch in spring and to be with us. He’s worked so hard and it’s meant a lot to him to come back. And you know, just to miss him for the first month and to have other guys step up and for him to join us now, it’s a great feeling. But he has worked his tail off to get to this point. We’re so excited to have him back."

Hyde on taking three of four: “Well, it’s still early. That’s a really, really good team and we saw how good their pitching is this series. They are going to win a ton of games with a lineup that is going to score runs. The pitching with (Clay) Holmes at the end, they will be a tough team to beat all year. It’s four of, what, 13 or 14 we play, so we still see them nine more times. But happy with how this series went.”

Bradish on his day and return: “Yeah, ever since we kind of found out what was going on, it was full focus on getting back here and pitching here at a high level. That is what I tried to do today. Go out there and compete.

“Definitely nervous, but I get nervous before every start. That is just anticipation of being a starter, you have four or five days between outings to look ahead and get prepared. But once I threw that first pitch, I was focused and locked in. Just ready to go.”

Bradish on pitching well today: “The first one back is always a grind, especially against that team. They had good at-bats. I threw more pitches than I wanted to, but that’s part of it."

McKenna on his homer and a series win: “Yeah, it was fun. Everybody is playing well. Awesome to see Bradish back out there doing his thing. Getting a series win against the Yankees is always fun and it was awesome to contribute."

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