PHOENIX - If you watched the first three innings of the Orioles game at Arizona tonight, you would not have had a clue about what was going to happen in the top of the fourth.
Through three the Orioles had two hits and no runs against Arizona rookie right-hander Slade Cecconi, their No. 14 prospect via MLBPipeline.com. His slider was working nicely and the O’s had scored just two runs in the first 12 innings of this series.
On top of that a messy last of the third saw Arizona take a 2-0 lead against right-hander Kyle Bradish.
Things could have been better. And they soon would be.
Suddenly the Orioles were producing loud contact and suddenly they had a six-run fourth inning which featured seven straight hits and led 6-2.
They won by 7-3 today over Arizona to improve to 84-51 and to move 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay, which lost in 11 innings to Cleveland. With this win, the O’s exceed last year’s win total by one.
Now 30-16 in the second half, the Orioles have won seven of 10, 10 of 14 and 21 of their last 31 games.
The Baltimore fourth started with an out, a fly ball to left by Anthony Santander. Then came the hit parade.
Ryan O’Hearn smoked a single to center and Austin Hays reached on infield single. With one swing, Cedric Mullins gave the Orioles the lead. He was batting .152 his last 10 games, but he drilled Cecconi’s 0-1 four-seamer for a three-run shot to right center and a 3-2 O’s lead. With that swing they topped their run total for the series to that point on Mullins’ 390 foot blast.
But the offense was just getting going.
Ramón Urías reached on an infield single and an RBI double by Adam Frazier made it a 4-2 lead. He hit one with triple-digit exit velocity and so did James McCann. His RBI double to right-center made it 5-2 and he scored on Adley Rutschman’s single and the lead was four runs at 6-2.
Cecconi took the pounding and was left in to give up seven straight hits. His line showed nine hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings and 71 pitches.
The Orioles hit six balls in the fourth with an exit velocity of 99.7 mph or better. Latst night they had just seven balls struck that well for the entire game.
The O's have now scored six or more in an inning 10 times on the season and their seven straight hits is a season high.
Bradish got the benefit of the run support, facing the team from his home state for the first time. The Peoria, Ariz., native went to high school about 20 minutes from Chase Field.
He gave up two runs in the third but nothing else today over six innings as he improved to 10-6 with a 3.03 ERA. He threw a career-high 107 pitches allowing four hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Bradish has an ERA of 1.88 his last five games, allowing two earned runs or less each time. He has done that 12 times in his last 14 starts since mid June, going 8-4 with a 2.28 ERA.
For the year he has thrown 17 games allowing two earned runs or less and he has 15 quality starts. The Orioles are 6-0 his last six starts and 17-8 in his outings in 2023.
Today he was behind 2-0 in the third after a walk and a couple of high chop base hits, one an RBI double by Ketel Marte. A fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded scored the second run. But then he pitched scoreless ball through the sixth, getting more good defense from Gunnar Henderson at short behind him.
The O's offense eventually came out of its brief slumber and Baltimore was back in the win column after two straight losses.
Santander was hit by a pitch in the ninth, it looked like near his right hand or wrist area and left the game for pinch runner Ryan McKenna.
After the game he went for precautionary X-rays and manager Brandon Hyde felt he would be fine.
The Orioles have never won a series in Arizona, losing series here in 2002, 2007, 2013 and 2019. They can win one tomorrow but will have to get by Diamondbacks’ ace Zac Gallen, who is 14-6 with a 3.32 ERA and who has an ERA of 1.79 in 13 home starts.
The Orioles have now gone 83 straight series without being swept since last May.
Bradish on pitching in his home state: “I mean it was great. It was a dream come true to pitch here. I had probably 70 people here, family, friends, all supporting me. Got a little rocky in the third, but was able to push through and end up with a quality start.
“I’ll be honest, that was probably the most nervous I’ve been. Even more so than my debut knowing I would have that many people out there. You want to go out and have a good game.”
Bradish on ovation from family and friends near dugout when he walked off at the end of the sixth: “It was awesome. I got chills. There were a lot of emotions going through."
Mullins on approach when he hit the three-run homer: “Continuing to stay aggressive. Feel like I’ve been taking a lot of strikes recently, being a little more passive. So, really focusing on just driving the ball hard and staying in the zone."
Manager Brandon Hyde on offense in the fourth: “We did a great job of getting on his fastball and taking really good at-bats. Chased him early which was fantastic. We can do that. We can score in bunches and quickly. Kind of been missing that here lately but that was a great offensive inning."