TORONTO – After the Orioles had secured a 6-5 win over Toronto last night, manager Brandon Hyde had several players and their contributions he could cite.
There was Jorge López and a five-out save against that lineup. There was Jordan Lyles providing some zeroes and making progress after a tough stretch. There were big homers by Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays. There was an entire team that played without Trey Mancini and had lost by 10 a night earlier, but still beat a good Toronto team that has been playing very well.
And there was shortstop Jorge Mateo making an outstanding, charging barehanded defensive gem of a play to get a key out to start the last of the ninth.
“The play that Mateo made, which potentially was game-changing, was just an unbelievable barehand play with a fast runner," Hyde said. "We played really good defense tonight.
“Just shows you his athleticism. I mean the closing speed to get to the ball and then to be able to bare hand that and get rid of it the way he did with something on it from that angle and get (Bo) Bichette there is really tough. That was an enormous play in the game.”
Added Mountcastle, who earlier hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot: "Mateo has been doing it all year. He's an amazing fielder and I don't know if he gets the credit he deserves. He is amazing out there. That play set the tone for the ninth.”
Mountcastle was asked about a bounceback win after a 10-run loss on Monday.
“That was great. I think (Monday) night, it was one of those things. But we bounced back and played really well,” he said.
And on the five-out save?
“Just shows you how good he is,” said Mountcastle of Lopez, who now has an ERA and WHIP both of 0.88 along with nine saves. “I mean he faced all of their guys down the stretch. He pitched really good. He’s the real deal. Fun to play behind and a joy to watch.”
The Orioles are now 12-17 on the season versus American League East teams. That breaks down to 4-9 versus the Yankees and 8-8 against the Red Sox, Rays and Jays. The Orioles are 8-6 in their past 14 AL East games.
The Adley-Stowers connection: When Kyle Stowers got his first major league hit here on Monday night – an RBI double in the gap in left-center field in the seventh inning – it was kind of fitting that he drove in Adley Rutschman, his good friend.
They were the Orioles first and third selections with their 2019 draft picks. Rutschman of course, was the No. 1 overall pick out of Oregon State and Stowers was selected in round two, No. 71 overall out of Stanford. They played in the same college baseball conference and have been teammates at several O’s affiliates, too, beginning at then-short-season Single-A Aberdeen after the draft.
They have become close friends, and it meant a lot to Rutschman to not only be in the lineup with Stowers for his first game, which was Rutschman’s 19th in the majors, but to also score the run on his double.
“It was one of those special moments,” Rutschman said at Rogers Centre before Tuesday’s game. “He’s one of my best friends in the organization. Been with him since Aberdeen in 2019. Got to play college baseball against him. Got to play baseball with him for Team USA in high school when we had tryouts in North Carolina. So, we have a lot of history together. Just seems like it came full circle with him getting a double, an RBI and I happened to be on base. Just one of those cool, special moments.
“It was probably spring training of 2021 when we really started to get close. And when he got to (Double-A) Bowie was when we really started to find that long-term friendship. And now I’m fortunate to call him one of my best friends.”
The two close friends shared the O's Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2021 and Rutschman has had a good seat, so to speak, to watch Stowers work hard to improve all aspects of his play.
“He’s always been a phenomenal player," Rutschman said. "But just kind of refining the small details of his game has caused him to make a tremendous jump and just get better year after year. To see the player he is now, compared to college, compared to high school, it’s been very fortunate that I’ve been able to see that transition."
It sounds like Stowers didn’t hit up his good friend for much advice when he finally made his debut against the Blue Jays.
“It was one of those things – just having went through it myself – I kind of just let him make the first move. However he is feeling on that given day, however he wants to go about his business. If he wants to ask. Other than that, you just let him do his thing. Approach the day how he wants to because it’s his day and it was one of those unique experiences where it is tough to gauge how someone is feeling."
As the Orioles continue to build that elite talent pipeline, one that has seen their farm system get high ratings from various outlets and publications, some talent is now finding its way to Baltimore. Rutschman, Stowers and Kyle Bradish are three of the organization’s top 10 prospects that are currently with the big club.
“Yeah, I think, just seeing guys come up and have an impact is very cool. You know, I’m just glad to be a part of this organization at this time and fortunate to be able to be here,” said Rutschman.