ANAHEIM – For the second night in a row the second-place Tampa Bay Rays posted a win earlier in the night that the Orioles would later match. Tonight, the Orioles’ 10-3 romp over the Los Angeles Angels in front of 29,021 meaning they not only swept this series but maintained their season-high 3.5 game lead over the Rays atop the AL East.
The Orioles scored five early runs tonight and then added some late-game longballs to enjoy a much more comfortable win than last night when they were behind after eight innings and had to pull it out in the tenth.
Now 88-51, the Orioles are 37 games over the .500 mark for the first time since 1997. They have won five in a row on this road trip after losing the trip opener Friday in Arizona. Overall, the Orioles have won seven of nine, 11 of 14, 14 of 18 and 25 of the last 35 games.
They improved the American League’s best road record to 46-25 and are 34-16 in the second half.
Tonight they recorded their ninth series sweep and eighth of three games.
The Orioles were retired in order in the first inning on just 11 pitches by Angels' lefty Patrick Sandoval. But then he needed 24 pitches in the second while allowing one run and 35 in the third while giving up four more.
The Birds had a 5-0 lead through two and a half innings tonight.
Left fielder Austin Hays went 4-for-4 with a double, homer, three runs and four RBIs. Hays is now batting .288 with a .799 OPS. His hits were smoked at 105, 104, 101 and 105 mph. He's batting .301 in 28 games since Aug. 1.
In the O’s second, Hays doubled to left, advanced to third on a grounder and scored on a Ramón Urías single to left for a 1-0 lead. Urías, who had three hits, has a .790 OPS this year when batting with runners in scoring position.
The Angels contributed to their own demise in the O’s four-run third. The leadoff batter in the inning, shortstop Jorge Mateo, reached on an E6. With one out, walks to Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander loaded the bases. Then Hays’ 104 mph single to left center scored two runs for a 3-0 Baltimore lead. With two outs, an infield single by Urías loaded the bases again. Sandoval charged over to field the ball and probably should have let it roll foul where it looked to be headed. But that hit re-loaded the bases and when Aaron Hicks singled it was a 5-0 O’s lead. Hicks’ shot was 106 mph off the bat and he now has 23 RBIs in 47 O’s games.
Baltimore starter Kyle Gibson entered tonight looking to turn around a recent slide that saw his ERA jump to 9.13 over his last four starts with seven homers allowed. In nine second-half starts, he posted a 6.28 ERA. He allowed seven runs over 4 1/3 in his last start against the White Sox.
Tonight he rolled through two frames on 26 pitches but allowed a two-run homer to Luis Rengifo in the third for a 5-2 O’s lead. Rengifo's 16th homer traveled a distance of 408 feet to right center.
Gibson’s strikeout of DH Matt Thaiss in the Los Angeles fourth was the O’s first of the night and their 1,249th of the year. That breaks the O’s franchise record set in 2016 and tied in 2019. The 1,248 strikeouts entering the game ranked seventh-best in the AL and ninth in MLB.
The O’s extended their lead to 7-2 in the sixth when Sandoval walked James McCann and Mateo to start the inning. He was pulled for reliever Jaime Barria, who later allowed an RBI infield hit to Santander and Hays’ sac fly. The lead was again five runs.
Mountcastle singled in that rally and hit the ball 114.6 mph off the bat, the hardest hit by an Oriole this year and that tied his career best.
Santander added a two-run homer, No. 27, in the eighth and Hays followed with a line shot homer to left. It was the second time this year the O's hit back-to-back homers. The first was July 9 at Minnesota when Santander and Adley Rutschman did it.
Gibson allowed another run in the sixth but got the win and is 14-8 with an ERA of 5.12. He gave up six hits and three runs with two walks and three strikeouts on 87 pitches for his 15th quality start of the year. The 14 wins are a career-high for Gibson.
The O's staff has 43 quality starts since June 1 to lead MLB. For the year they have 60 quality starts and are 47-13 (.783) in those games.
The Orioles bullpen took it from there as they improved to 5-1 on the road trip and handed the Angels (64-76) a sixth straight loss and their 13th loss in the last 16 games.
As they board a flight later tonight and fly overnight back to the East Coast, where they will arrive in Boston after sunrise, they head that way maintaining the 3 1/2 game lead in the division. While the O’s are off Thursday, Tampa Bay (85-55) will begin a series at home with the Seattle Mariners.
Manager Brandon Hyde is Hays finishing off a strong season?: “He really is. Just driving the baseball, getting huge hits for us. Plays Gold Glove defense every night in left field. Had an outstanding game tonight offensively. Shows up to play every day hard and he set the tone offensively tonight."
Hyde on Gibson: “Great start. To be able to rest some guys in the bullpen with an off day tomorrow, that’s massive. Thought he did a good job pounding the strike zone. We got a nice little lead for him and he did a good job with it."
Hyde, every win is big this month: “Every series is important right now. It’s not who we play, it’s (that) every series is important with 20-something games to go. They all mean something."
Gibson on pitching better tonight after recent struggles: “Normally when I get in a stretch like this I do a little deep dive and look at things. I’ve just gone through a stretch where my pitch execution was not where it needed to be. I was using some pitches in situations where I probably was overthinking it and not to my strengths a little bit. So tried to simplify the approach a little bit and use my pitches where they have been successful all year long. Really just 0-0 especially focused on execution and really just got a little bit of a finer focus on where I wanted to throw pitches."
Hays, team taking care of business this trip: “We’ve had a good road trip so far. We came here with a goal of winning the series. We were able to do that the first two games, so came out today and scored 10 runs. That was huge for us. Complete the sweep and that was good. Rest up on this cross-country flight tonight, rest up tomorrow and keep this thing going in Boston."