Akil Baddoo raced back to the left field wall tonight, jumped and brought down Ryan Mountcastle’s fly ball to end the first inning. Mountcastle rounded the bag and stared at Badoo in disbelief. Denied a home run on a 393-foot drive with a man on base, a souvenir in any other ballpark.
Mountcastle shook his head and tossed his batting helmet to first base coach Anthony Sanders. This couldn’t be happening again.
The next fly ball from Mountcastle in the third inning produced a sacrifice fly and expanded the lead to three runs, more than enough for Jordan Lyles. Finally, the Orioles felt in control. They wouldn’t get handled again by the Tigers.
Lyles tossed his second career complete game, Kyle Stowers hit his second major league home run and had three RBIs, Gunnar Henderson singled twice, and the Orioles avoided the sweep with an 8-1 victory at Camden Yards.
The Tigers had won nine games in a row against the Orioles dating back to August 2021, tying the longest streak since 1954.
Tonight’s win left the Orioles with a 77-71 record, including 9-10 this month, as they wait for the Astros to arrive for a four-game series. They're 4 1/2 behind for the last wild card.
Lyles registered his 12th quality start, holding the Tigers to three hits with no walks and six strikeouts. He allowed a single to Harold Castro in the second inning and retired 14 in a row before Kerry Carpenter's solo home run in the seventh.
The only complete game in Lyles’ 12-year major league career before tonight came with the Astros on Sept. 30, 2012 in Milwaukee. He threw 67 pitches tonight, 50 for strikes, heading into the seventh, retired the first batter and surrendered the home run to Carpenter on a two-strike pitch.
Spencer Torkelson struck out on Lyles’ 80th pitch to end the inning. Sixty-two were strikes.
The side was retired in order on seven pitches in the eighth, the longest start for Lyles since May 5, 2014 with Colorado. Stowers made a sliding catch in foul territory to begin the ninth, Mountcastle robbed Riley Greene with a diving stop and flip to Lyles, and Stowers raced into right-center and made a lunging catch on Lyles' 94th pitch.
This was the first complete game for the Orioles since John Means' no-hitter on May 5, 2021 in Seattle. And the first at Camden Yards since Dylan Bundy's one-hitter on Aug. 29, 2017.
The 94 pitches were the fewest by an Oriole in a complete game since Sidney Ponson's 88 on May 20, 2004 Tampa Bay.
"I was efficient early and I was able to get deep into the game," said Lyles, who was doused with Gatorade afterward. "I looked up and I had 50 pitches around five innings and I kind of clicked and it was go time from there. ... Overall, just more excited about getting the W tonight and getting one out of three from these guys."
Manager Brandon Hyde didn't check on Lyles after the eighth. Would have been wasted words.
"I didn't even talk to him," Hyde said. "I had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do, and I wanted him to go out there. He was awesome. A great start by him.
"Jordan came out and set the tone on the mound."
"Everything was working for him," Chirinos said. "He was hitting his spots. His stuff, it was nasty today. I think it was the best I've seen him all year. He was getting ahead of everybody. I think that was the key to throwing a complete game.
"It's really cool to be behind the plate for that outing, for sure."
The 30 starts for Lyles this season tie his career high set last year with the Rangers. He’s lined up to get the ball again Monday in Boston.
A stomach virus kept Lyles out of a Sept. 5 doubleheader against the Blue Jays, and he surrendered 12 runs over 8 2/3 innings in his next two starts. He was dominant tonight.
"He threw 72 strikes in 94 pitches, so it really looked like everything was working really well with Robby (Robinson Chirinos) back there," Hyde said.
"He was going through a little bit of a rough patch. To be able to come back and give us a start we really needed ... obviously we've been scuffling a little bit with the bats and haven't played our best baseball the past week to 10 days, and for a veteran guy to go nine innings and kind of put the team on his back there, give the bullpen a break, which is great, especially in the stretch that we're in and against the team we have coming tomorrow, it was huge for us."
Lyles has embraced the leadership role since the ink dried on his contract, which includes an $11 million option for 2023. But he views it a bit differently than the standard definition.
"It's more of a friendship, a bondship, between the other guys and I," Lyles said. "I'm glad that they were able to see that tonight, to have something in their minds. It's more an open dialogue. They come to me with anything, I can ask them questions, and at the end of the day it's all about comfortability with them being able to come talk to me, and that's all I've ever wanted."
A second complete game was nice, too.
"You would say, what is this, No. 12 (season) for me? That yeah, I would have ran into a couple more," he said. "But hey, it just hasn't happened, so I'm not going to look back on it. It was fun tonight working with Robby. I went nine, but we got a win tonight. I'm very proud of that. Giving another off-day for the bullpen, that's always helpful during this long stretch at the end of the year with a lot of meaningful games still to go. The win and a day off for the bullpen, it's what I hold my hand on, for sure."
"You can ask all the pitchers, they call him their dad for a reason," Chirinos said. "The guy is the same day in and day out. He's doing it the right way, he's teaching these younger guys how to go about their business. He's a good friend for sure. Everybody in this clubhouse. Not only the pitchers, but the position players. We respect him a lot."
Tigers starter Matt Manning walked Ramón Urías leading off the third inning and Cedric Mullins singled with one out. Castro booted Adley Rutschman’s ground ball as Urías scored, an RBI credited on the fielder’s choice – and Henderson lined a run-scoring single into right field.
Mountcastle followed with a fly ball to Baddoo that didn’t frustrate him.
Terrin Vavra drew his second walk in the sixth inning and Stowers lined a fastball into the Orioles’ bullpen, the exit velocity at 108.1 mph, for a 5-0 lead.
"With all that Mounty's hit the last few weeks that haven't gone out, you can't trust anything, I guess," Stowers said.
Vavra led off the eighth with a single, and pinch-runner Jorge Mateo stole his 31st base and came home on Stowers’ single into left-center. Rutschman closed out the scoring after Chirinos' RBI single with one of his own.
The kids were acting up tonight.
"We've got some young left-handed hitters that, they have a chance to be pretty good," Hyde said.
"It's so fun," Stowers said. "I can't speak highly enough of those guys."
The Orioles kept battering Jason Foley in the eighth. They had a lot of frustration to unload. He just happened to be standing in the way.
After going 1-for-26 with runners in scoring position against Detroit this season, the Orioles went 5-for-10 tonight. They had tallied five runs in the first five games.
"Nice to see us add on. That's not something that we've done a great job of this year," Hyde said.
"I think a little bit of law of averages for all of us," Stowers said. "We were due for a means regression in a positive way, and it was nice to see some hits fall. It was only a matter of time."
Notes: The Astros are listing their four starters for the upcoming series as Justin Verlander, José Urquidy, Framber Valdez and TBA.
Grayson Rodriguez threw 83 pitches in 3 2/3 innings tonight with Triple-A Norfolk. He was charged with three runs and six hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts. An inherited runner scored after Beau Sulser replaced him.
Connor Norby hit his second home run in two nights with Triple-A Norfolk. Colton Cowser, Brett Phillips, Anthony Bemboom and Tyler Nevin also homered.
High-A Aberdeen lost to Bowling Green in the final game of the South Atlantic League championship round. Steve Melewski has the details.