Perhaps fueled with some momentum from the pregame ceremony and celebration of 30 years of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the current group of Birds got off to a fast start today against Pittsburgh.
Not long after the fans cheered Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Eddie Murray and Mike Mussina with gusto, among others that returned, the 2022 Orioles scored once in the first and twice in the second off Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker to take an early 3-0 lead.
The Pirates would close the gap but the Orioles did their part toward making the day a party and a success with a 6-3 win over the Pirates before an enthusiastic crowd of 41,086 at the ballpark. That is the second-largest crowd of the year behind opening day.
Before the game Robinson and Murray spoke to the Orioles players. Manager Brandon Hyde said it meant so much to his team.
“Priceless day for our guys,” said Hyde. “We were so honored to have Brooks and Eddie in our clubhouse to say a few words of encouragement. Just greatness in our clubhouse. Our guys felt it, they were appreciative. The whole ceremony was fantastic. I think our whole team was out there for it to recognize some great moments here over the last 30 years and the people that were a part of it. Really impressed with everything, but the cherry on top was Brooks and Eddie being in our clubhouse.”
Robinson told the team “you guys have been thrilling me and the people of Baltimore.”
Added Hyde: “It meant a lot to everybody in that room. One of the greatest, if not the greatest third baseman of all time. Read off his stats to the players, just mind boggling. Just how kind he was to everybody and so cool that he watches our games. Couldn’t thank him enough for today.”
That is five wins in a row for the Orioles (56-51), who are five games over the .500 mark for the first time since June 7, 2017.
The Orioles, who began today 1 ½ games out of the final AL playoff spot, have won nine of 12, 21 of 30 and 32 of their past 48 games. Their home record is now 31-20 and they are 14-3 in their last 17 games at Oriole Park.
Hot-hitting Terrin Vavra’s RBI single produce the first-inning 1-0 lead for the Orioles. Catcher Adley Rutschman singled with one out and went to second on Ryan Mountcastle’s two-out basehit. Then Vavra lined a first-pitch curveball into right-center for the lead. That gave him seven hits his first 14 big league at-bats. He began today batting .462 with an OPS of 1.150 in seven games.
The lead grew to 3-0 in the Baltimore second sparked by the bottom of the order. Batting No. 7, Rougned Odor doubled, advance to third on a wild pitch and scored on Jorge Mateo’s single. It came against a drawn-in infield for the 2-0 lead. The next batter, No. 9 hitter Brett Phillips doubled to right and Mateo circled the bases for the 3-0 edge.
O’s right-hander Austin Voth, coming off five scoreless innings at Cincinnati, held Pittsburgh without a run until the top of the fourth. He rolled through the first three on 39 pitches but allowed a two-run shot to center to Oneil Cruz in the fourth. It scored Ben Gamel after his leadoff double. Cruz smoked home run No. 9 a distance of 420 feet to center.
The lead grew back to three runs on Ryan McKenna’s pinch-hit two-run double to left off righty Eric Stout in the fifth. Ramón Urías doubled and Mateo was hit by a pitch and with two down, McKenna hit for Phillips. He lined a 1-1 slider to the left-field corner for the 5-2 lead. The No. 9 spot in the Baltimore order produced two doubles and three RBIs in the first five innings.
“Just see something up in the zone and be ready to hit from pitch one,” McKenna said about his approach in that spot. “He threw me a couple of sliders and after the first one I felt like I was seeing it pretty good. After that just put a good swing on one.”
Voth’s day would be over two batters into the sixth when he gave up a double and Ke’Bryan Hayes’ RBI single to cut the lead to 5-3. Lefty Keegan Akin took it from there and retired the next three hitters to keep the lead through the top of the sixth.
Voth improved to 2-1 with an ERA of 5.53 on the year between two teams. Over five innings plus, he gave up six hits and three runs with one walk and five strikeouts on 75 pitches.
For the Orioles only, he is 2-1 with an ERA of 3.19 in 12 games (eight starts). The Orioles are 6-2 in his starts.
When Pirates reliever Chase De Jong walked the first two batters of the Baltimore seventh, the first of those two, Odor, came around to score on a Cedric Mullins sac fly fo the final 6-3 margin.
The O's bullpen began today ranked third in MLB with a 3.04 ERA and added four scoreless between Akin, Joey Krehbiel, Nick Vespi and Dillon Tate.
Even though they plated six runs, the Orioles stranded 12 on the bases today and went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
But they did enough to win and shoot for a second straight three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.
The anniversary celebration: Before first-pitch today the Orioles welcomed some of their former players back for the 30th anniversary celebration of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Hall of Famer Mussina is here today and the crowd also got to cheer Hall of Famers Murray and Robinson.
Brooks was here as a link to the Memorial Stadium past and the glory years and heck, he’s Brooks Robinson, who needs a reason to get him here, we’re just thrilled when he’s here.
Manager Brandon Hyde asked him to address the team, which he did before the game. And then he later told reporters he’s impressed with the 2022 Orioles.
“It means a lot (to the fans to have a winning team). I think the people really get turned on when the club plays like they are playing right now. I can just see it when I watch the games on TV. How the fans really show you what is going on, the young people especially. It excites me.
“I have been watching a lot of games and I think the community is getting into it now. As Mike Elias said, it’s liftoff time and I believe that too.”
More from the Hall of Famers in this space tomorrow, but when asked about the left-field wall moving back, Murray simply said “still (would) hit it over it.” And he would.
Strong debut: Lefty Cade Povich, acquired by the Orioles in the trade with Minnesota for closer Jorge López, today made a very strong O’s organization debut. He pitched six scoreless on one hit for high Single-A Aberdeen against Wilmington. He walked none and fanned eight on 75 pitches.