The Brewers walked off the Rays today, leaving the Orioles tied for the third wild card spot. A win tonight would give them sole possession of it.
Manager Brandon Hyde won’t steal a peek at the upcoming road trip – the one game in Boston, three in St. Petersburg, Fla. and three in Toronto that concludes it. He follows the mantra of Nationals manager and friend Davey Martinez about going “1-0 today.”
“I’ve heard him say it a bunch of times, and I’m very close to him, but for me, that’s what you’re supposed to do is you’re supposed to try to not look too far ahead and try to win tonight’s game, and if you don’t, it’s going to bite you. Do the task that’s in front of you," Hyde said.
“Tonight, we’re facing a really good Blue Jays team and a really good starter (José Berríos), and we’ll worry about Boston tomorrow. But right now, we have what’s in front of us and we can’t control what other teams are doing. We’re paying attention a little bit more, but we have no control over it. Just have to control what we can control and try to win tonight’s game.”
Rain is in the forecast for much of the night, and the tarp is on the field at Camden Yards. The first drops began to fall shortly before 5:30 p.m., and it’s pouring. The warning track is a long and winding puddle.
The weather was much nicer in Sarasota, where top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez threw off a mound for the first time. He worked from a half-mound on Monday before taking the next step in his progression this morning.
Rodriguez said he threw 25 pitches.
“Obviously, the throwing program is going well, so there haven’t been any hiccups,” he said. “Everything’s been going smooth. My arm feels great.”
Rodriguez left a June 1 start with Triple-A Norfolk due to discomfort in his right lat that later was diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain. He remains hopeful that he’ll appear in games by September, whether in the majors or with Norfolk.
Adley Rutschman is batting second tonight for the 16th time, and in his 13th consecutive start.
His 35 walks rank third among American League rookies, and his .520 on-base percentage since the All-Star break is second in the majors behind Aaron Judge’s .523.
Rutschman batted seventh in one game, and moved up to sixth for 21, fifth for 27 and cleanup for four.
“When he first got here I was honestly just trying to take as much pressure off him as possible, so I hit him down in the order a little bit,” Hyde said.
“As he kind of got some at-bats under his belt, knowing that he’s going to be a high on-base guy, I want on-base guys up to the plate as much as possible, so I felt like after he got comfortable up here is when I felt like he was ready to hit higher in the order.”
Rougned Odor, last night’s hero with a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning, stays in tonight’s lineup as the No. 7 hitter. He’s slashing .196/.259/.376 in 97 games, and he committed two errors last night to raise his total to 11, but Hyde appreciates the value that those numbers won’t reflect.
“He’s got a bunch of big hits for us,” Hyde said. “I feel like he takes his best at-bats when we need it late in the game. I know he didn’t have the best night defensively last night, but like I’ve said a bunch of times, he’s turned so many double plays for us to help us get out of innings. I think experience on the field is very, very helpful, and to have somebody who’s been out there for multiple years, played on good teams, played on winning infields, to be able to be out there has been helpful.
“I think he’s helped our pitching staff. He understands when to slow the game down, when to go to the mound, so there’s a leadership aspect of him being out there, as well, that’s been helpful.”
Hyde won’t disregard the analytics, but he also has to trust his eyes and instincts.
“That stuff does matter, but I think you weigh everything,” he said. “There’s also a human side, as well. What he brings to the park every single day, and energy he has when he’s on the field. And I think he’s done a lot of really good things defensively for us, even though it doesn’t show up metrically, and he does make mistakes and he does make errors like everybody else.
“For me last night, two throwing errors, the ball in the ninth slipped out of his hand, probably should have just ate it. Trying to make a play. Trying to make a play at the plate (in the sixth) and it gets by Rutschman. But there’s some intangibles there that you can’t measure.”
For the Blue Jays
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 1B
Alejandro Kirk DH
Teoscar Hernández RF
Bo Bichette SS
Matt Chapman 3B
Raimel Tapia CF
Danny Jansen C
Santiago Espinal 2B
José Berríos RHP