ST. LOUIS – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the club needs to find out about its players on the 40-man roster, part of a 2022 itinerary that also includes development in the farm system, prospect promotions and trying to win games and move closer to competitive status.
There’s some serious multi-tasking happening from top to bottom in the organization, with plenty of hands trying to keep it balanced.
Rylan Bannon earned his first major league promotion and start this afternoon, one of those guys the club wants to get its eyes on, and the moment wasn’t too big for him.
Bannon made a diving backhand stop along the third base line and threw out Nolan Arenado to end the first inning. He lined a single into left field on the first pitch thrown to him in the second following Jorge Mateo’s home run.
A bullpen game for the Orioles to close out the series produced an unlikely result, Bannon’s favorable first impression one highlight in a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals.
Anthony Bemboom hit a solo home run in the seventh for his first RBI with the Orioles, who are 3-0-1 in their last four series. Bemboom’s last homer was Sept. 23, 2020.
Cedric Mullins singled with two outs in the seventh to score Chris Owings, who reached on an infield hit and stole second base, and the Orioles improved to 14-18.
It got tense in the late innings. Dylan Carlson homered off Cionel Pérez in the seventh and Joey Krehbiel allowed a run in the eighth. Félix Bautista notched the four-out save, his second in the series and the majors.
Hyde revealed afterward that second baseman Rougned Odor also was unavailable due to a sinus issue. The bench again contained only a catcher, making today's outcome that much sweeter and improbable.
"It means a ton," Hyde said.
"We bullpenned it, it's really difficult to do. It's a good club. Facing Steven Matz, we've had problems with in the past, and just really happy with our effort. Pitched great."
Bannon became only the third Orioles player since 2000 to collect a hit on the first pitch seen in his major league debut, following Rhyne Hughes on April 24, 2010 in Boston and Willie Morales on April 9, 2000 versus the Tigers.
Brad Bergesen did it on May 24, 2009 in D.C., but it wasn’t his debut. Only his initial plate appearance.
"I let (Bannon) know he's in the big leagues an hour before the game, so he'll never forget that, and he's hitting seventh, and it's in Busch Stadium," Hyde said. "Right away makes a diving play, great pick by Trey (Mancini) there. Gets himself a knock early, too, so I'm sure it's a special day for him and his family."
"That was definitely cool to get under my belt right away," said Bannon, who went 1-for-4. "Play right there in the first inning definitely made things a little easier from there on out, but my feet didn't really get under me until the fifth or so inning, and after getting a couple at-bats. That's when it really sunk in where I was. It was just a weird feeling being out there early in the game. A ton of emotions."
Hyde was hoping that Bryan Baker could give him a couple innings in the reliever’s first major league start. Baker responded by retiring the first seven batters with three strikeouts, his longest outing of the year, before Andrew Knizner singled and Keegan Akin entered the game.
Baker threw 17 strikes among his 24 pitches through the second, giving Hyde confidence to push a little harder. The right-hander finished at 31 pitches, 21 for strikes, in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
"How about Baker?" Hyde said. "Baker hadn't pitched in five or six days, he's throwing 96, he gets us into the third inning. I was expecting one-plus, maybe two. He's throwing the ball so well, he goes back out for the third."
Akin fielded Brendan Donovan’s comebacker and started the club’s 38th double play this season. The 39th came in the seventh inning with Pérez on the mound, and the 40th ended the game.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth and Akin struck out Tyler O’Neill on three pitches. Akin retired the side in order in the fifth with a pair of strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.71 with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Akin made his ninth consecutive relief appearance of at least two innings to open the season, tying the third-longest stretch by an Orioles reliever and the longest since Jimmy Haynes had 10 in 1996.
Dillon Tate gave up a two-out double to Arenado in the sixth and retired Juan Yepez on a ground ball.
Mateo’s second home run of the season gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead against Matz.
Bemboom likely would have been a reserve if the Orioles knew yesterday that the Cardinals were starting Matz instead of right-hander Jordan Hicks. Robinson Chirinos wasn’t going to catch a day game after a night game, leaving Bemboom with a left-on-left matchup this afternoon.
It worked, after he struck out twice.
Mullins’ RBI single came against reliever Génesis Cabrera. Austin Hays grounded out to Cabrera to end the inning and had his left hand cleated while trying to avoid the tag, but he stayed in the game.
So did pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson leading off the bottom of the seventh after Pérez drilled him on the right elbow with a 97.4 mph fastball. Bannon started a 5-4-3 double play on O’Neill’s ground ball, but Carlson homered to left field to cut the lead to 3-1 – the first run allowed by Pérez in 10 innings.
Pérez began the day with a 0.00 ERA but a 1.607 WHIP with 10 hits and five walks in 9 1/3.
A leadoff walk to Donovan in the eighth and Paul Goldschmidt’s one-out single put runners on the corners. Arenado flied to left field and the Orioles’ lead was down to 3-2.
Goldschmidt stole second base with two outs in the eighth and raced to third on Bemboom’s throwing error, but Yepez flied to right. Two of Bautista’s fastballs were clocked at 100.4 and 101 mph, and he reached 101.9 against Dickerson in the ninth. He was living in the 100s.
The Orioles were living on the edge. O’Neill reached on a bloop single down the right field line with one out, but Mateo made another basket catch of a popup with his back to the infield and doubled off O’Neill.
"I had (Denyi) Reyes left, and that would have been his debut if it got to him," Hyde said. "We pieced it together. ... Just happy with how our guys dealt with a ton of adversity this series. We're really banged up. We're grinding. It's awesome."
Bautista is loving the save chances, however long they last.
"I'm really enjoying it right now," he said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. "It's always been my dream to close games for a team, so I'm having a lot of fun right now and I'm really grateful that the team is giving me this opportunity.
"Every time I get the ball right now, it just feels like my confidence keeps going up, and I'm really thankful that they believe in me, that they trust me. Every time I go out there and I pitch well and I do a good job, that confidence only grows more and more every day."
Mateo began the ninth by racing into the hole to field Dickerson's grounder and make a strong and accurate throw across his body.
"He shows you the arm strength and he shows the speed there. I don't know how many guys make that play. And he makes it look super easy," Hyde said.
"That was incredible to see how he was able to execute that play and turn that double play to win us that game," Bautista said.
Mancini and Tyler Nevin singled in the fourth but were stranded after Mateo lined to left field and Bannon flied to right. Mancini singled again in the sixth and was stranded.
Two important runs scored in the seventh, and a team with injury issues, a short bench, an almost empty bullpen by the eighth and a rotation plan that often fails boarded its flight to Detroit a winner again.
"It feels good," Hyde said. "You win a series on the road in St. Louis, that's not an easy thing to do. Kind of where we are organizationally right now, everybody's proud of how we're playing. We're going to keep playing hard."
Hays has a bad laceration on his hand in three spots and the Orioles will check him Friday. They should get back closer Jorge López, who's on the bereavement list. Perhaps Hyde can get back Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urías, and Odor's sinuses will improve. Or the grind was just intensify.
Down on the farm, catcher Adley Rutschman hit his first home run since rejoining Triple-A Norfolk, and it broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning.
Grayson Rodriguez allowed one run and three hits in five innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts, and lowered his ERA to 3.08. Mike Baumann tossed two scoreless innings before Nolan Gorman hit a two-run homer in the eighth. He struck out six batters in three innings.