O's game blog: Rutschman debuts as O's host Rays

As the Orioles host the Rays tonight in the second game of this weekend series, the game also marks the long anticipated major league debut of catcher Adley Rutschman. He is the player the Orioles selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft, who will catch and bat sixth tonight.

Rutschman arrives in Baltimore after parts of three seasons and 179 games on the farm, not counting the cancelled 2020 minor league season. He would have arrived sooner, no doubt, but for his right triceps injury in spring training that derailed any chance of his making this year’s opening day roster.

Rutschman has played his last 12 games with Triple-A Norfolk, batting .233/.377/.442 with an .819 OPS. In his last three games with the Tides, he went 5-for-12 with two homers and five RBIs. In 19 games on his rehab assignment through high Single-A Aberdeen and then Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, he hit .309/.427/.515 with a .942 OPS, five doubles, three homers, nine RBIs, 11 walks and seven strikeouts.

He has a career .879 OPS in 650 minor league at-bats.

“I’d say about as excited as I can be right now," Rutschman said this afternoon at a Camden Yards press conference. "This is probably the coolest thing, coolest moment, that I’ve had so far. I’m really excited for it.”

Now he will try and handle enormous expectations while he continues to learn, grow and develop, but this time at the major league level.

“I think it’s a new team again, new guys," he said. "I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again. Creating those relationships with teammates, coaches, just being on the team again and trying to win together. I think being part of that is special, and I think the most enjoyable part about baseball.

“I guess I’ll learn as I go and I’ll have a better answer for you in a couple weeks (about how well he fits in with team). I think it’s going to be a learning process on both sides and looking forward to seeing how that goes.”

The Orioles (16-24) have won two in a row, both via walk-off homers, after a six-game losing streak. Their 8-6 win over the Rays in 13 innings last night ended a 15-game losing streak against Tampa Bay. The Orioles were 1-18 in 2021 against the Rays.

The Orioles have scored 17 runs the past two days - their most runs in two games this year. The O's bullpen allowed just one earned run over 8 1/3 innings Friday night.

Last night’s game was the longest Orioles game by innings since a 15-inning 11-10 loss at Toronto on Sept. 23, 2019, and the longest home game by innings since a 13-inning 7-6 loss to Seattle on Sept. 21, 2019. The last time the Orioles won a home game of at least 13 innings was a 13-inning 1-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Sept. 1, 2017.

According to STATS, the Orioles have never had a walk-off home run in three straight games. The last time they had three consecutive walk-off wins of any kind was from June 26-27, 1954 — the club’s first season in Charm City — against the Philadelphia Athletics. The Orioles have walked off in four games this year, tied with the Yankees for the most walk-off wins in the majors. They had just five games won via walk-off in all of 2021.

On the mound tonight, right-hander Kyle Bradish (1-2, 5.06 ERA) will make his fifth appearance. The team is 2-2 in his starts and he allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings Monday versus the Yankees. Lefty Jeffrey Springs (1-1, 1.66 ERA) starts for Tampa Bay. He has been building up his innings, throwing four and 4 2/3 innings his past two games on 57 and 76 pitches, respectively.

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