In the end, it came down to Craig Kimbrel vs. Mike Trout with the game riding

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Even after right-hander Albert Suárez provided the Orioles with another scoreless outing and after they got homers from James McCann and Colton Cowser and after Adley Rutschman drove in two and after the bullpen bent but didn’t break in the seventh and eighth, there was still heavy lifting to do.

Real heavy, as in right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel needing to get three-time MVP Mike Trout out with two outs, bases loaded and the O’s clinging to a 4-2 lead.

Trout was all that stood in the way of the Orioles winning Game No. 15, moving into first place and Kimbrel recording his 423rd career save to pass former teammate Billy Wagner for seventh all-time.

Just get out the guy that had already hit eight homers this season and has a .992 career OPS.

As Trout moved to the plate, he was 1-for-3 with two career walks and a single versus Kimbrel. If he produced another single, he would likely tie this game. If he did bigger damage, the Angels could have a walk-off win and the Orioles a devastating loss.

But Kimbrel was calm and collected. He showed off his 400-plus save experience.

With the count 1-1, he got a called strike at the top of the strikezone box. A fastball at 93.3 mph. He went right back up there with another fastball at 94.5. Trout took a called third strike.

The heavy lifting was done, Trout was walking back into the dugout and the Orioles were for now, in first place.  

Kimbrel had hit a batter, allowed a bloop and walked another hitter around getting the first out. Nolan Schanuel’s pop up preceded the big drama of Trout’s at-bat.

He made a mess but cleaned it up nicely as the Orioles improved to 15-7, won for the seventh time in eight tries and move ahead of the Yankees by a ½ game for first in the AL East.

“Definitely wasn’t easy,” Kimbrel said in the postgame interviews. “I didn’t make it easy on myself. An 0-2 (count) and hit the first guy in the hand. Then just kind of going from there. I was able to pitch myself out of the situation without giving up any runs. At the end of the day that’s all that matters. Happy I got through it. Want to make them as easy as possible, 1-2-3. But any time they are not, and they turn out the way they did tonight, that’s a plus.”

Heading into this season a big question for the Orioles was how would Kimbrel do after Félix Bautista was an All-Star in 2023?

So far he is faring very well.

He’s 3-0 with six saves, two off the MLB lead, with an ERA of 0.90 and WHIP of 0.50. His last nine games have been scoreless and over 10 innings for the year he’s walked one and fanned 16. Opponents' batters hit .121 against him with a miniscule OPS of .288.

What does the veteran draw in a game-on-the-line moment like that?

“Just trusting the pitch,” said Kimbrel. “When you're standing out there with the ball, the guys on the bases can’t go anywhere. I guess they could try. They are not running in a situation like that, so just make a pitch. I can’t make the ball do anything other than what I can make it do. Just hope it’s the right location and the right spin where they can’t do damage. Tonight was that scenario.”

Kimbrel was obviously honored to first tie and then pass his one-time teammate Wagner on the saves list.

“It still is kind of hard to wrap my head around. Still playing this game and hopefully lots of opportunities to add to that number. They are very important milestones, but I have to stay focused for this season, each and every day. It’s not about the next save to a milestone but the next I can get to win a game. It’s really cool to think about my name with all these historical guys who played the game for a long time. It’s neat to think about, but I have to focus on my job and that is one save at a time,” he said.

With his next save he will tie John Franco for sixth all-time at No. 424.

Rutschman did not catch the final out last night where he would have had a real good seat for Kimbrel vs. Trout. But he watched from the dugout.

“That’s a pretty cool moment. I’m sitting there in the dugout with (Ryan) O’Hearn and we’re like, ‘Well, I guess this is what the people came for right here.’ Cool moment to see, great guy. Fortunate to watch him do his thing every night,” said Rutschman.

Added manager Brandon Hyde: “There is definitely the heart beat we want on the mound. He is so in control. Obviously been there a lot of times. That situation there would get away from a lot of guys, but he was totally under command and under control and made huge pitches when he needed to."

Suárez pitched another 5 2/3 scoreless. He is now 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00 allowing seven hits over a combined 11 1/3 scoreless. He has allowed a .179 batting average against with .495 OPS to the Twins and Angels and has a 0.79 WHIP.

On the same night Suárez picked up his first MLB win since June 23, 2016, his brother Robert, who is one year younger, picked up his eighth save for the San Diego Padres.

The Orioles hit two homers and have 35 on the year to lead the majors. They have hit 25 the last 11 games. They have hit two or more homers 12 times this season and are 11-1 in those games.

The Baltimore Sun reported last night that Triple-A outfielder Heston Kjerstad is expected to join the team today and be activated. With Norfolk, Kjerstad has hit .349 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in 21 games. 

If you were not up at around midnight or later last night, here is the first game story that was written and published on last night's win.

Some Twitter highlights from the win are here with Kimbrel's last out, here with Cowser's homer and here with Rutschman's RBI double in the fifth.



Orioles recall Kjerstad, notes on tonight's game
A little more on Hays' injury

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to