Orioles funnel three home runs into 5-1 win over Athletics (updated)

If there’s a soft spot in a major league schedule, the Orioles could clutch theirs like a body pillow.

Fresh off two losing series within their division, the Orioles began a stretch tonight of playing 19 of 22 games against sub-.500 teams. An opportunity, perhaps, to offer another interpretation of liftoff in Baltimore.  

Of course, the Orioles weren’t going to turn up their collective noses at anyone. They’d see how many teams are above them in the East.

They, too, had fewer victories than defeats after 10 days. But the Athletics and Tigers were tied for the worst record in the majors at 2-7, and the Orioles would see them in 11 of the next 19 games.

Kyle Gibson ran up his pitch count early but found his economical stride and made it into the seventh inning, Ryan Mountcastle and Adley Rutschman conquered the left field wall while others were less fortunate, Austin Hays took the safer route by homering to center, and the Orioles stayed hydrated and happy with a 5-1 victory over Oakland.

The Orioles are even again at 5-5 and awaiting Grayson Rodriguez’s first Camden Yards start Tuesday night. Fans aren't allowed to bring in gas cans. This isn't Bowie.

Mountcastle, robbed of a home run yesterday by the adjusted left field dimensions, cleared the wall in the first inning after Cedric Mullins walked, stole second base and moved to third on catcher Shea Langeliers’ throwing error. The previous batter, Rutschman, appeared hit a home run, except 372 feet to left with a 30-degree launch angle wasn’t sufficient.

Mountcastle went 421 feet on a JP Sears changeup with an exit velocity of 106.7 mph to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Can’t take any chances.

Hays looked on in disbelief as his 382-footer to left, at 105.5 mph off the bat and at 37 degrees, was caught at the wall. A home run in any other ballpark.

That’s 1,175 feet for one homer in the first inning.

Manager Brandon Hyde talked earlier in the day about consoling Mountcastle after another frustrating fly out.

“You just try to pat him on the back and say, ‘Way to swing the bat,’” Hyde said. “They say they even out, so we’re hoping they will. I think that’s a term, a saying, that no hitter ever wants to hear, because it’s never true. But if Mounty keeps squaring baseballs up, he’s going to put up big numbers.”

After the game, Hyde said, "It was enjoyable. We had a couple deep fly balls before that that didn't go out."

"I think time will tell who benefits more, the Orioles or the opposing team," Gibson said. "One thing about baseball that's great is every park is different. Every park plays different, every park, the ball flies a little different, so to have a little bit different left field, I think it adds to the nuance of the game. I don't think right-handed hitters, probably, enjoy that nuance here, but it's part of the game."

So are dugout celebrations, and the Orioles unveiled a new one after hitting home runs. The chain is passé.

They broke out an orange home run funnel, with James McCann pouring water through a black and orange striped hose and into Mountcastle’s mouth in the dugout, like they were tailgating before the game. Mountcastle removed his cap, bent at the knees and chugged.

Rutschman stood more upright. Might have to work on his form.

He should have plenty of chances.

“Slug it and chug it,” Melanie Newman said on the radio broadcast, calling a game and crafting a T-shirt slogan at the same time.

Gibson wanted to stress to the media that it's a "Homer Hose," saying it needed to be rebranded. No other names will be accepted.

"It isn't a Dong Bong, so it's a Homer Hose," said Gibson, who spotted pitchers Cole Irvin and Keegan Akin doing the final preparations before the game. "Just like as a kid, you go out back, you take a drink from the water hose after you play outside, playing Wiffle Ball. We've got a turn-the-water-faucet-on celebration when you hit a single, we've got a sprinkler when you hit an extra-base hit, and it's a Homer Hose when you hit a homer. Just so you get that straight."

Hyde didn't notice the funnel while in the dugout. He was ejected in the seventh and watched a video sent to him.

"I haven't seen it live," he said.

"If we hit a bunch of homers, that's great. I want guys to have fun, I want guys to be loose. I like celebrations and stuff. I think it brings teams together. So, if guys like it, I'm all for it."

Santander almost got a turn in the third, but his fly ball was caught on the track. The wall also can be a party pooper.

Hays barreled Jeurys Familia’s slider in the sixth and launched it 417 feet to center, exit velo of 107.3 mph, to snap an 0-for-17 streak and give the Orioles a 4-1 lead. Pass the funnel.

"It was great, I got to use it tonight. Hopefully I get to use it a lot more," Hays said.

"I don't know how much was in there. I was able to get it down pretty easy. I don't think I spilled any drops. I think I did all right for my first one.

"I said I hope we're being sanitary and making sure it's cleaned after every homer."

The turnaround in Gibson’s night was worth celebrating. He threw 30 pitches in the first, but back-to-back five-pitch innings in the fifth and sixth left him at 81. He was removed at 92 pitches with one out in the seventh, a runner on third base and the Orioles leading 4-1.

Bryan Baker struck out two to strand Jace Peterson, and Gibson’s ERA was lowered to 3.44 ERA.

"That was a true veteran performance right there," Hyde said.

"Normally, you don't get a chance to do that after a long first," Gibson said. "Honestly, after one or two innings I'm not really worried about or thinking about how deep I'm going to be able to go in the game. I'm just trying to put up zeros and trying to keep the team in the game. Thankfully, we had a couple short innings there in the middle innings that allowed me to get into the seventh inning, but that's normally where you end up after a 30-pitch first."

Gibson walked one batter in his first two starts over 12 innings. He walked two tonight in the opening frame and the Athletics scored for the first time since Friday.

Ryan Noda was picked off first base, but Aledmys Díaz walked and raced home on Ramón Laureano’s triple to right field on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.

The outfield defense remains an issue. Hays overran Noda’s foul ball, keeping the A’s first baseman in the box. McKenna booted Laureano’s ball after playing it off the wall, though the run would have scored anyway.

Jorge Mateo overran Peterson’s fly ball in shallow left field leading off the seventh, resulting in a double, but he got Cionel Pérez out of an eighth-inning jam with a backhanded stop and long throw to retire Laureano.

Hays doubled with two outs in the eighth and scored on Ramón Urías’ single. Félix Bautista was denied a save opportunity but still received his light show and hype video in the ninth before striking out three batters.

Gibson stranded a runner in a 17-pitch second and got a 5-4-3 double play in a 14-pitch third after Tony Kemp’s leadoff bunt single and Noda’s walk. He retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the fourth and needed only five to complete the fifth, with a 6-4-3 double play ending the inning.

A ground ball and two line drives in the sixth again cost him only five pitches.

Only Gibson (twice) and Tyler Wells have gone beyond five-plus innings this season. Only Gibson (twice) has made it into the seventh, and he’s won his first three decisions with the Orioles.

Gibson owns the longest active streak receiving four runs or more of support in a start with eight, dating back to Sept. 8, 2022 with the Phillies, according to STATS. The Twins’ Joe Ryan was second with four in a row.

The only streak longer since the beginning of 2020 belonged to Atlanta’s Kyle Wright with 11 last season.

The Orioles went 12-5 at home against American League West Division teams last season, tied for their fourth-best winning percentage (.706). They were 15-3 in 2003, 16-6 in 1997, 26-10 in 1969 and 24-10 in 1971.

The Red Sox were the only team last season with a better home record against the West at 13-4, per STATS.

Mullins and Hyde were ejected in the seventh after a disputed called third strike. Plate umpire Malachi Moore tossed Mullins as the center fielder was walking to the dugout. Mullins spun and headed back to Moore, bat still in hand, Hyde raced onto the field to get in between him and Moore, and he also was ejected and almost spiked his cap.

Tonight marked Hyde’s 10th career ejection. The Orioles don't have a funnel and hose for that occasion.

"I thought he was a little early," Hyde said. "I thought we had a few calls not go our way tonight, which I thought was unfortunate, and I thought we had a couple yesterday not go our way, also. Just kind of tired of things not going our way."

Mullins hadn't been ejected in his career before tonight.

"I was making my thoughts clear to him about some of the calls that he had missed throughout the day," Mullins said. "Had my back turned to him completely. Just wanted it to be known.

"(Hyde) 100 percent has our backs out there. I wasn't going up there to get in (Malachi's) face, yell at him in any way. I just wanted to hear what he had to say, and Hyder came in between."

Mullins might be soothed if he gets his turn with the hose Tuesday night.

"The funnel's cool," he said. "It definitely caught me off guard.

"Hopefully, they clean it, but I get a taste of it later."

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