ARLINGTON, Texas – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was waiting to exhale. To know that the trade deadline passed and most of his roster stayed intact.
“Is it over?” he playfully asked the media this afternoon in the dugout. “OK, all right.”
Hyde met up with closer Jorge López in the lobby of the team hotel this morning, hugging him and saying goodbye to one of the most popular players in the clubhouse after the Orioles traded him to the Twins. Less than 24 hours after Hyde called Trey Mancini into his office at Globe Life Field to break the news of the first baseman’s trade to the Astros.
“The thing is, this has been a fun team for these last four months,” Hyde said. “I’ve really enjoyed this group, and these guys have enjoyed it. They don’t want to see buddies leave, either. But this is the game we’re in. Hopefully, sometime soon we’re adding at the deadline significantly.”
Hyde spoke about the future but expected his players to concentrate on the present, the cliché one game at a time. Don’t worry who left. Just take care of business.
They did it again tonight.
Can shake up their roster, but can’t rattle them.
Jorge Mateo hit a three-run homer in the third inning, when the Orioles sent nine batters to the plate, and he added a two-run shot in the ninth for a career-high five RBIs in an 8-2 victory over the Rangers.
"I think they're rallying around each other a little bit," Hyde said. "It's been a tough couple days. We've talked a little bit as a team, and our energy level has stayed really high in the dugout. It's still a really good atmosphere and we've played great for the last couple days."
Hyde didn't share anything said behind closed doors, calling them "private conversations."
"We discussed some things in the hitters meeting a couple days ago," he said. "I appreciate how professional these guys have been and they're going out and trying to win."
The Orioles are 53-51 and exceeded last year’s win total. They claimed their 15th series and go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon.
That 53rd win says a lot about this club, but also the 2021 version that never reached it.
"I really don't get much satisfaction out of that, honestly," Hyde said. "I don't want to think about last year."
Jordan Lyles, a trade chip who stayed, allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings, and the Orioles moved within 1 ½ games of the third-place Rays.
"It looks like we responded well since we won two games since Trey has left, and then Lopey today," Lyles said. "Wins and losses take care of a lot of things. But on the emotional side, I don't think I've seen any guys hold their heads down or mad or sad or pouting or anything like that. We're all professionals. I know we have a lot of young guys and this may be their first or second time going through something like this, but nothing sticks out in my eyes that says guys are down in the dumps and not ready to show up and play a major league game.
"We keep showing up. We've got a good team still. We showcased that the last two nights."
Terrin Vavra drew his third walk of the night in the ninth and Mateo jumped on the next pitch from Dennis Santana, again clearing the left field fence. The first multi-homer game of his career.
Another lead, like last night, that held up from start to finish.
"It's difficult seeing two of our guys go, but we understand at the end of the day it's a business and it's going to happen," Mateo said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. "All we can do now is continue to focus and work hard and stay with the same goal in mind, which is to continue working hard and trying to win as many games as possible."
Spencer Howard retired the first six Orioles with three strikeouts. He hit Ramón Urías leading off the third, Vavra walked, and Mateo smacked his first career home run with a two-strike count, the ball traveling 408 feet to left field.
Mateo was 4-for-67 on 0-2 counts before tonight and 18-for-137 after being down two strikes.
"I feels really good, thank God, just to continue to work hard and trust the process and trust the work that we've been putting in," Mateo said. "Got to come back tomorrow and try to do it all over again."
Cedric Mullins singled and stole second base, and he scored on Adley Rutschman’s 21st double in 57 games. Anthony Santander singled and Ryan Mountcastle lifted a sacrifice fly to right field for a 5-0 lead.
Rutschman led off the fifth with his 22nd double - twenty-eight of his first 51 hits in the majors are for extra bases – and he scored on Santander’s double.
Per the Orioles, Rutschman is the fourth player since 1980 with at least 22 doubles in his first 57 career games. He joins Bo Bichette with 22 from 2019-20, Miguel Andújar with 23 from 2017-18, and Chris Sabo with 23 in 1988.
Santander also was a trade possibility, his value reaching its highest point, but he remained a corner outfielder on a team that won’t concede the wild card chase.
Lyles retired eight batters in a row after Meibrys Viloria doubled with one out in the second. Viloria broke for third base on a ground ball, got caught in a rundown, and was out 6-5-4-6.
The veteran right-hander breezed through the fourth on five pitches, leaving him at 55. Viloria led off the fifth with a single and scored with two outs on Marcus Semien’s single, and the inning drained Lyles of 22 pitches.
Hyde removed Lyles at 110 pitches and with two runners on base in the seventh. Dillon Tate, who could inherit some save chances with López gone, retired the next two batters to maintain a 6-1 lead.
Lyles walked only one and struck out seven in 6 1/3 innings. His ERA is 4.40.
Is Hyde glad that Lyles is still an Oriole?
"Yeah, very much so," he said.
"He's been the one guy all year long that has just been an anchor in our rotation. Gives so many guys a breather. His ability to go deep into games and not want to come out of games. ... Just knows how to pitch. It's been huge for us and glad we kept him."
Lyles didn't spend the day wondering whether he'd be dealt. Didn't let it affect his preparation.
"It was pretty easy for me," he said. "I've been through this a handful of times now. There's not a reason or need to stress over it or overthink it. Someone's either going to call you or bring you into the office. Until that point, there's no need to make plans or what-ifs or what may or may not happen. It was like a normal start day for me, so not too different.
"After that time, 5 o'clock over here, after that it's game time. Post-trade deadline for the Orioles and we're going to move on."
Yusniel Diaz made his major league debut by pinch-hitting for Santander in the ninth, and he struck out on four pitches. Viloria homered off Nick Vespi in the bottom half of the inning. Félix Bautista recorded the last out with two runners on base.
"Right now we feel like a family," Mateo said. "This group is super united, so every day that we come to this field, no matter what the score is, no matter how the game is going, we feel like we're in it and we feel like we're going to win that game."
Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk left-hander DL Hall had another difficult outing, with five earned runs (six total), six hits, five walks, four strikeouts and three home runs in four innings. He threw 100 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Zac Lowther tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings but allowed two hits and walked two batters.
Double-A Bowie’s Joey Ortiz continued his torrid stretch with his 10th home run and sixth in 12 games. Connor Norby hit his sixth homer.
Coby Mayo went 0-for-3 in his first rehab game with High-A Aberdeen.