Orioles brave elements and beat Pirates 5-2 (updated)

PITTSBURGH – Baseball in Baltimore can bring five-hour rain delays. In Pittsburgh, they bundle up and tailgate in parking lots while it snows and hails, looking like they’re waiting for the opening kickoff.

Being the Pirates’ home Opening Day was a minor detail. Fans weren’t punting the celebration.

The weather gods added rain and sunshine to the spastic mix. Grayson Rodriguez brought his own repertoire and laser focus.

A heavy jacket and hood also were recommended.

Rodriguez held the Pirates to two runs over 6 1/3 innings, Ryan O’Hearn, Gunnar Henderson and Cedric Mullins hit solo homers, and the Orioles won 5-2 before an announced sellout crowd of 38,400 at PNC Park.

The Orioles are 5-2 and assured of going 94 consecutive regular season series without being swept.

"That was really, really tough conditions to play in," said manager Brandon Hyde. "We have every sort of weather possible."

Craig Kimbrel struck out two in the ninth and recorded his first save with the Orioles and the 418th of his career.

"That was dominating," Hyde said.

Rodriguez allowed six hits, walked two batters and struck out seven – including the side in his sixth and Michael A. Taylor as his final batter of the game. Oneil Cruz homered to right field on a changeup with one out in the fifth, and Jared Triolo homered to center on Rodriguez’s first pitch in the seventh.

"From the first pitch I thought he was on," Hyde said. "Great pitch mix, kept them off balance, really good fastball throughout. So outstanding performance.

"He's still developing at the big league level and he's got big-time starter stuff. You see the command is so much different than it was the first half last year."

Hyde sent Rodriguez back out at 92 pitches while Danny Coulombe and Mike Baumann warmed. Rodriguez threw five more and Coulombe replaced him.

"Anytime that you get a chance to go out there for one more, it gives you a little adrenaline boost, and that's what I had," Rodriguez said. "To go out there for the seventh, yeah, it was good."

Rodriguez became the first Orioles pitcher age 24 or younger to strike out at least 16 batters and allow three runs or fewer over his first two starts of a season since Bob Turley in 1954, per Stathead. He limited the Angels to one run in six innings Saturday and struck out nine.

Turley probably did it without sleet on his stat sheet.

"I'm from Texas, I don't see that a whole lot," Rodriguez said. "The hail was different. That was a first, that's for sure. It was a lot of fun to experience that."

O’Hearn gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the second inning with his first home run, on a 389-foot fly ball to center field. Statcast computed it as a homer in only one ballpark.

Fortunately for the Orioles and O’Hearn, they were playing in it.

Henderson led off the third with a 407-foot shot to center, the ball barely eluding Taylor’s leaping attempt at the fence. Henderson barreled a changeup from rookie Jared Jones, who was pulled after 80 pitches in six innings.

"Luckily it didn't snow whenever I was up to bat, but there were some definitely unfortunate at-bats whenever it was starting to come down pretty hard there. It's just kind of a hang with them day."

Jones struck out seven to give him 17 in his first two major league starts. He didn’t walk a batter.

"Jones has got a huge arm," Hyde said. "Nice to see us hit a couple homers. ... For a young guy, that's a big-time arm. We had our work cut out for us, but we did a nice job."

Ramón Urías singled off Ryan Boruki in the seventh for his first hit in 15 at-bats. Henderson and Rutschman followed with singles, Urías scoring on the latter, and Anthony Santander poked an RBI double to left field off Hunter Stratton.

Mullins lined a Stratton cutter off the right field foul pole leading off the eighth for a 5-2 lead.

The Orioles had trouble manufacturing runs early. Easier to just clear the fence.

Jordan Westburg was hit by a 91.7 mph fastball with two outs in the second and Colton Cowser singled, but Urías grounded into a force. O’Hearn led off the fourth with a fly ball that the Pirates misplayed in right-center field for a triple, but Mullins grounded out – a safe call was overturned on review – Westburg popped up and Cowser struck out on three pitches.

Rutschman singled with two outs in the fifth and was stranded. Ryan Mountcastle, who struck out twice earlier, led off the sixth with a double and was stranded.

"We left some runs out there throughout the game that we need to do a better job," Hyde said.

Henderson and Rutschman struck out in the first inning on fastballs clocked at 98.9 and 99.5 mph, and Santander lined to right-center field on a 99.5 mph fastball. Rutschman hadn’t fanned in his first 25 plate appearances.

Rodriguez didn’t have a clean inning until the fourth. A single and walk in the first and two-out walk in the second didn’t hurt him. Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes reached on infield singles in the third, the latter after Urías fielded a grounder up the line and lost the ball after tagging Cruz, but the next two batters popped up.

Mullins made a diving catch in center field to rob Triolo and end the fourth.

The Pirates had seven baserunners through the fifth inning and six were Cruz and Hayes.

Coulombe retired both batters he faced in the seventh, and Yennier Cano retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the eighth. Cano has made four appearances and tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

Kimbrel recorded the last out on a fly ball and players headed indoors to thaw.

"The snow and the hail in the face isn't real pleasant in a major league baseball game," Hyde said. "I think it's the first time Mountcastle caught a ground ball in the snow, first time that Yenni Cano has pitched in the snow. They don't have much snow in Cuba."

"It was just another game, basically," Rodriguez said. "Once the hail started the first time, I think it was the at-bat with (Rowdy) Tellez, it got a little hard to see home plate there for a second. But it ultimately kind of let off. Other than it being a little cold, the conditions were fine for me."

"The snow came on and off," Henderson said, "but it actually wasn't too bad. I kind of enjoyed it out there.

"I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I want to have just a normal game. No rain. Just have some sunshine out there. But just embrace the conditions while they're here and eventually the sunshine will be out."

* Austin Hays began the game on the bench, with Hyde saying his left fielder was a little under the weather.

Hays pinch-hit for Cowser in the seventh and struck out. He grounded out in the eighth and is 2-for-20.

* Owner David Rubenstein attended the game.

* Heston Kjerstad hit another home run today for Triple-A Norfolk, a three-run shot in the first inning. He has six homers and 25 RBIs.

Kyle Stowers hit a two-run homer in the first inning, also his sixth to go with 17 RBIs. He'd get his 18th later in the frame.

Jackson Holliday walked twice in the first. The Tides scored seven runs with only one out recorded by Charlotte starter Jake Woodford before he was removed.

Kjerstad drew a bases loaded walk for his 25th RBI. Still in the first.

Norfolk scored 10 runs in the inning.

* Jud Fabian was removed from the Double-A Bowie game as a precaution after rolling his left ankle.

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