Orioles manager Brandon Hyde worked through the various scenarios in his head. How he’d protect a late lead. Building a bridge to his designated closer for the night.
He just needed the game to reach that point.
Trying for their 81st win and 26th series conquest, the Orioles rallied from a two-run deficit in the sixth inning by scoring four times and holding on to defeat the Rockies 5-4 before an announced sellout crowd of 42,535.
Tommy Doyle inherited two runners from starter Chris Flexen with no outs in the sixth and Ryan Mountcastle greeted him with a go-ahead, two-run double down the left field line. Austin Hays had an RBI grounder to expand the lead, Kyle Bradish gave Hyde six-plus innings and Yennier Cano recorded his fifth save after switching gloves.
"He wants the ball," Hyde said of Cano. "He's not afraid of the moment. He's not afraid to face middle-of-the-order bats. I love how aggressive he is, I love how Yenny pitches with no fear. He's had an All-Star type year."
The Orioles have won seven of their last eight games, 10 of 13 and 18 of 25. They moved 33 games above .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 1997 season, and they continue to lead the second-place Rays by three in the division race.
The Rockies scored twice in the eighth inning but fell short and have lost six in a row and 13 of 16 to lower their record to 48-81.
Jacob Webb surrendered his first runs with the Orioles in 10 appearances on Elias Díaz’s RBI double with no outs in the eighth and Brendan Rodgers' double-play grounder after DL Hall entered and Nolan Jones reached on a bunt single. Hall made his first appearance with the Orioles since April 27 as the 27th man in a doubleheader, and he brought his old velocity. He also threw seven of 10 pitches for strikes.
"Really impressive," Hyde said. "Love the way he was attacking the zone. Think he was up to 99 and throwing a ton of strikes. That's what we're looking at out of DL Hall, just fill up the strike zone."
Fans lined early at the Camden Yards gates to receive their Félix Bautista bobblehead, the irony not lost on them.
Bautista is shelved by an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, the official news coming earlier today. He was at the ballpark but removed from the bullpen for an indefinite period.
Hyde used Bautista on back-to-back nights and in three of the last four. The Mountain wouldn’t pitch, healthy or injured. Shintaro Fujinami worked two scoreless innings last night and was down. But Hyde had Cano, Webb, Danny Coulombe, Cionel Pérez and new arrival Hall. Austin Voth hadn’t stepped on the mound since his reinstatement from the injured list.
Just get a lead to somebody. Rally against a Rockies bullpen with the majors’ worst ERA in August.
"It was a tough day for everybody," Hyde said. "This was a grind-out game."
Asked whether this was how he drew up the bullpen order, Hyde said, "It's going to be a different drawing nightly probably. I'm not really sure. This all happened at 1 o'clock this afternoon. Probably do things the way I did when Bautista wasn't available and try to give these guys the best pockets that we can."
Bradish fell behind 2-0 in the third before retiring 11 of 12 batters. He was removed after Harold Castro’s leadoff double in the seventh at 87 pitches and a little frustrated, but Coulombe struck out the next two batters and walked Charlie Blackmon, and Webb induced a popup.
Cano entered in the ninth to his own hype video. Umpires checked his glove, Hyde brought out a towel and it was decided that Cano needed a different one. Rockies manager Bud Black demanded an explanation.
"I guess he patted his glove with the rosin bag," Hyde said. "They wanted him to get the rosin off. Then they asked for a towel, and they felt like we needed a wet towel. And then he just needed a new glove. Unfortunately, that kind of killed the moment and the vibe, and the anxiousness heightened. But give Yenny a ton of credit for dealing with some adversity in that moment and coming out and throwing some great sinkers and changeups."
Cano could smile about it. The opposite of Hyde's reaction.
"It didn't really stress me out because it's something I always do," he said. "For some reason today they had an issue with it, but it's something I always do. I didn't do anything different."
Two fly balls brought Cano within an out of the save. Fans rose to their feet and chanted "Let's Go O's." Much like last night, except Cano didn't walk off the mound with an injury.
"I think my emotions were a little high and I just wanted to do my best impression of him," Cano said via interpreter Brandon Quinones after his 11th straight scoreless appearance over 10 2/3 innings since Aug. 3. "Go out there and complete the job and do whatever he would do."
Bautista watched from the dugout and came onto the field to congratulate Cano.
"It was awesome," Cano said. "Aside from being my teammate, he's one of my best friends here. It's great being able to give him that handshake, knowing we got the job done. Just getting that hug from him was great."
Once again, the Orioles faced adversity and stared it down.
"Obviously, a huge blow with Félix," Bradish said. "But it's kind of the story of our whole team: Next man up.
"We're a bunch of grinders in this clubhouse. We pull for each other every AB, every pitch. Just, good culture."
Bradish kept his ERA at 3.03, the second-lowest in the American League. He allowed two runs and six hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts. He’s surrendered only seven runs this month in 29 2/3 innings for a 2.12 ERA.
"I thought I threw the ball well," Bradish said. "They put some good swings on some good pitches. Not too many balls hit hard, but just found holes."
Bradish needed only seven pitches to complete the first inning, but Michael Toglia led off the third with a double, and singles by Brenton Doyle and Blackmon gave Colorado a 1-0 lead. Doyle scored on Ezequiel Tovar’s ground ball.
Tovar got caught in a rundown and made it back to first base when Gunnar Henderson’s throw nailed him in the back, but Bradish escaped further harm.
The Orioles finally broke through against Flexen in the fifth. Hays drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and raced to third on catcher Díaz’s throwing error, and scored on Ramón Urías’ ground ball to Tovar at deep short. Hays was called out at the plate, but a review confirmed that Díaz blocked the plate and didn’t provide a clear path.
Flexen struck out the next two batters to keep the 2-1 lead.
Henderson led off the sixth with a single to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, Anthony Santander singled and Flexen was removed with only an unearned run on his line to go with seven strikeouts. Colorado experienced its usual bullpen collapse, however, with Mountcastle pulling Doyle’s second pitch, a cutter, down the left field line for his 20th double and giving him 64 RBIs on the season.
Tovar thought about throwing home on Hays’ grounder, but he bobbled the ball and took the out at first to increase the Orioles’ lead to 4-2.
Jordan Westburg pinch-hit for Adam Frazier in the seventh and walked against Evan Justice, making his major league debut, and he scored from first base with two outs on Santander’s 30th double and 70th RBI.
The Orioles produced their 40th comeback win to tie the Reds for the major league lead.
"We've all been working really hard," Cano said, "and now with Félix out we're going to have to do an even better job going forward. So, I think all the hard work we're putting in is paying off and it's going to be huge for us going forward."
* Single-A Delmarva center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., the Orioles’ first-round draft pick this year, exited tonight’s game with a bruised left calf after being hit by a pitch. Bradfield led off the game with a double.
Jalen Vasquez had an RBI triple.
Coby Mayo hit his fifth and sixth home runs for Triple-A Norfolk. Josh Lester hit his 18th, and Kyle Stowers’ two-run shot tied the game in the eighth inning and gave him 13. Lewin Díaz delivered a walk-off single in the ninth. Connor Norby had three more hits, including a triple.
Garrett Stallings allowed eight runs and nine hits in 1 2/3 innings. Bryan Baker retired all three batters faced with two strikeouts.
Double-A Bowie’s Trace Bright tossed four scoreless innings with two hits and five strikeouts. Houston Roth and Kade Strowd each had two scoreless innings in relief and Nolan Hoffman retired the side in order in the ninth for his sixth save.
Elio Prado had a double and home run for High-A Aberdeen. Jacob Teter had an RBI double.