Frazier keeps finding ways to fuel Orioles' wins

NEW YORK – The numbers finally are beginning to match what the eyes have seen from Adam Frazier.

The professional at-bats, the multitude of ways he’s able to contribute. Doing the little things that create big gains for a team challenging for the division lead.

Frazier entered last night with three consecutive multi-hit games, and a six-game hitting streak that raised his average to .255 with a .337 on-base percentage to rank fourth on the team. He had reached base in 16 consecutive games since May 6, the fourth-longest active streak in the American League and eighth in the majors.

His career high was 17 in a row in 2019.

He matched it last night by being a central figure in an eight-run seventh inning that enabled the Orioles to take a 9-5 lead.

Frazier clubbed a three-run homer, the ball striking the right field foul pole. The hitting streak is seven games, and the on-base streak is 17. He’s slashing .279/.343/.508 with three doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBIs during it.

One of his finest offensive stretches in recent memory.

“It’s been a while, yeah,” he said yesterday at his locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, the enthusiasm in his voice typically low, never exhibiting much emotion positively or negatively.

“Feel pretty good, feel like I’m in a good place body-wise, swing-wise, approach. Just try to stay where I’m at, be a hitter and cover the zone. It feels good.”

Of Frazier’s 38 hits this season, 17 went to right field, 12 to left and nine to center. His approach when in a good place mechanically and mentally.

“Yeah, no doubt,” he said. “Being able to use the whole field, line to line. Just square the ball up, and even when it’s not squared up, being able to have a chance to still fall in.”

Some of Frazier’s best moments in his first season with the Orioles, who signed him to an $8 million contract, can best be described as understated.

The walk-off win against the Tigers on April 23, when Frazier scored on a wild pitch in the 10th inning. The Gatorade dousing came two days after his walk-off grounder to first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who threw late to the plate as Ryan Mountcastle scored.

Not the same as a dramatic home run or ball hit in the gap, but it still counted as an RBI and produced another win.

“Those kinds of wins, at the end of the season, they add up,” Frazier, 31, said after the wild pitch.

His contributions are doing the same.

“He’s just a rock,” said Gunnar Henderson, whose pinch-hit, two-run double in the seventh gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead. “He’s going to give you good ABs, no matter who’s on the mound. Really gonna fight and play really good defense and put good contact on the ball, and then, when you mess up and leave one on the inside, he’s going to turn on it and do exactly what he did.”

“It’s been massive for us, everything he does,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Leadership in the clubhouse, leadership on the field, and the at-bats he takes. The numbers for me don’t show what kind of at-bats he takes. He puts the ball in play with two strikes, pressure on the defense, pressure on the pitcher, smart baserunner, smart hitter.  He’s had a ton of lineouts to short. He had another one (Tuesday) night in the 10th inning.

“He really does a great job of moving the baseball, getting huge hits for us, driving in some runs, and setting the table for us, also. I’ve been super pleased with Adam so far.”

Terrin Vavra is paying attention. The 26-year-old left-handed hitting infielder who also can play the outfield. A high contact guy with limited power, though Frazier’s bat has more pop based on the 49 home runs in eight major league seasons. Vavra’s 11 hits this season are singles.

“He’s got a lot of experience, there’s been a lot of history,” said Vavra, whose main position as a professional also is second base. “He’s been around for a while and there’s a lot to learn from. I think a lot of our style of play is pretty similar, what we do in the batter’s box. He’s a good person to look up to and pick his brain and try to make the most of it and apply it to my own, because I think there is some stuff that translates between the two of our games.”

Frazier has hit six home runs in 48 games, three more than his 2022 total with the Mariners. He’s never hit more than 10.

“Kind of a swing where his approach is really middle of the field, the other way,” Hyde said. “He’s able to drop the barrel on stuff that’s coming kind of soft and down and in to him. … His at-bats have been really good.”

Frazier stayed in last night’s lineup against a left-hander, former Orioles Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes. His 36th start at second base, where fans are waiting for prospect Jordan Westburg to have his contract selected. Or for Connor Norby to debut.

Joey Ortiz has made four starts at second.

The No. 3, 7 and 6 prospects in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline.

Frazier’s age and contract status give the appearance of a placeholder. Of a guy keeping the position warm until hopping off it. But a contending team won’t be so quick to nudge him. He’s become hugely important to them.

“I can’t worry about those guys,” Frazier said. “I worry about, how can I help each guy in this lineup every night to win baseball games. We’re a couple games out for the best record in all of baseball, so we’re doing just fine. Whatever we’ve got to do every night to win a game is all I’m worried about.”

* The Orioles decided to play a regulation nine-inning game last night, though they started late due to rain.  

The three extra inning games in a row tied the team record, which includes the 1991, 1977, 1974, 1973 and 1962 seasons, according to STATS.

The major league record is five by the 1908 Tigers. Twenty-two teams have played four straight, most recently the 2021 Padres.

* Adley Rutschman singled and walked last night. He's reached base in each of his last 13 starts, slashing .271/.417/.500 (13-for-48) with two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs and 12 walks.

Rutschman is hitting .380/.500/.540 (19-for-50) in 14 career games against the Yankees, with five doubles, a home run, three RBIs and 12 walks. He has a hit in 12 of those games.

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