Leaning against the dugout wall, Brandon Hyde chomped his pink bubblegum, one hand on his hip, his eyes filled with the kind of dissatisfaction Orioles fans were used to seeing from their manager in each of his previous three seasons.
Hyde’s bullpen was floundering. His defense was breaking down. A six-run lead was slipping away like air from a balloon.
But this wasn’t like old times.
After a nightmarish top of the fifth inning for the Orioles, in which two errors were committed and five runs were scored, the team settled down, refocused and followed up with five runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.
There would be no collapse. The O’s would cruise through the final four innings of Friday’s 15-10 win over the Red Sox.
“That was a big blow when we had that lead and then we give up five there,” said Hyde before Saturday’s game. “It wasn’t our best inning in the field and we made some mistakes. But to come back and answer, our guys just took really good at-bats. They stayed in it.
“It’s easy to give up a lead and be frustrated and our guys didn’t do that. They kept playing.”
Nearly every time the Orioles have seemed ready to capsize this summer, dangerously close to reverting to the team they played like in the first three seasons of the rebuild, they’ve steadied the ship. Last night’s topsy-turvy win was yet more evidence of the staying power of this resilient group.
Hyde has often marveled at the team’s chemistry.
“You try to create a good culture in spring training,” said Hyde to reporters. “You try to create a positive attitude. You try to get guys together as much as possible, but you have no idea how the team’s going to come together during the season. You try to plan how you’re going to do that, but sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
“I think that our team has grown together after not playing really well the first month. When we started playing well, I think you really saw how tight the group became. We have guys that get here early and play ping pong and play pool. You’re in the clubhouse, you see the guys who are really around each other a lot. They’re enjoying each other’s company.”
At times this season, Baltimore, whose best players are mostly between the ages of 24 and 27, have displayed more poise than some of the league’s most veteran rosters.
When asked where that maturity comes from, the skipper has often pointed to the likes of Rougned Odor, Jordan Lyles and Robinson Chirinos.
“Our dugout, like I’ve said a million times, is ten times louder than it was in the past,” Hyde said. “I give credit to Robbie (Chirinos) and Rougie (Odor) for that. Just how energetic and how they support their teammates. I think guys have fed off of that.”
And of course, Baltimore’s new leader in wins above replacement has made an impact.
“Adley (Rutschman) came and guys were excited to watch him play and play with him,” said Hyde of his 24-year-old catcher. “He brings a great energy to our team as well, and on the field especially what he can bring. All eight guys are looking at him, every pitch. His makeup and how he plays the game is pretty special.”
Hyde’s squad has a chance to bury Boston even further in the standings with a win this afternoon at Camden Yards. Last night’s victory left the O’s just 1 ½ games back in the American League wild card race, while the Red Sox fell to five back.
Rutschman will bat behind Austin Hays in game two today as Cedric Mullins sits with a sore shin after fouling a ball off his leg last night.