Orioles rely again on resiliency and are rewarded

Yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Rays was just so … Orioles.

The bad news about starter Jordan Lyles, scratched in the morning with a stomach virus. An unsavory bullpen game. Trey Mancini’s removal from the lineup with more hand soreness.

So many reasons to fold, so much stubbornness.

They should've lost to a team that beat them in 18 of 19 games in 2021 and was starting Corey Kluber. Instead, they took an early lead and held onto it.

The Orioles were outhit 9-4. They used seven pitchers, none for more than Austin Voth’s 2 2/3 innings. Voth made his first start since June 6, 2021. His longest outing before yesterday was three innings on June 1, 2021.

Of course, he struck out four batters yesterday and didn’t allow a run.

The bullpen surrendered only two runs in 16 2/3 innings over the weekend, and the Orioles posted their second series win against the Rays this year.

What’s different about the ‘pen this season?

Manager Brandon Hyde used words like "makeup,” “toughness,” “stuff” and “grit.” That’s a good start.

"Guys are just kind of falling in,” Hyde told the media. “They have really good stuff and they're pitching with a ton of confidence on the plate. Haven't had that."

The defense keeps making plays, like Ryan McKenna’s throw from right field yesterday to second baseman Rougned Odor, who fired home to get Brett Phillips and end the second inning. And like Odor scooping Taylor Walls’ grounder in the sixth and whipping the ball underhanded to Ryan Mountcastle to pull Mike Baumann out of a jam.

Shortstop Jorge Mateo made a leaping catch on a line drive because he’s legally required to do something impressive in every game.

“We're playing really good defense," Hyde said. "We're solid. We’ve got a guy playing Gold Glove shortstop. You look in the outfield today, there are three guys ( McKenna, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins) that can really, really run, and all three are plus defenders. And we're doing a great job behind the plate.

"Defensively, it's nice to not give extra outs and give us a chance."

The Orioles have won six of their last nine games since June 11. They’re 17-16 at home. They’ve claimed two series against Tampa Bay for the first time since 2018. The Rays lost back-to-back series to the Orioles for the first time since 2017.

Hyde's club registered its 30th win in its 68th game. No. 30 didn’t arrive last year until its 92nd.

Two teams in the American League Central would sit behind them in the standings if the Orioles could get away from the East.

Nothing seems to faze them. They shrug instead of shudder.

Anthony Santander and Keegan Akin don’t make the trip into Canada. Mancini sits out three games with a swollen hand. And they split the series.

John Means is back home in Texas after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Ramón Urías is out with an oblique strain. Grayson Rodriguez should have made his debut, but he’s in Sarasota rehabbing a Grade 2 lat strain.

I knew this team would be more enjoyable to watch, especially with the prospects reaching the majors. Even if it stayed in last place. A much better watch than past years.

Adley Rutschman is here, and his enthusiasm and energy behind the plate is infectious. Check out his reaction to Jorge López’s final out yesterday, rushing to the mound with a smile bigger than his talent.

DL Hall will be in the rotation later this summer. Terrin Vavra is expected to be getting starts in the infield. Kyle Stowers made his debut in Toronto and is going to return. Rodriguez hasn't given up on September.

Who’s starting the two-game series against the Nationals this week? Hyde will figure it out.

Lyles could be pushed back to Tuesday’s opener, followed by Tyler Wells on Wednesday. Or they could reverse spots. Dean Kremer’s next turn is Wednesday.

A starter is needed for Saturday, whether Voth leads another bullpen game or the Orioles recall Spenser Watkins or Denyi Reyes.

They won’t sweat it.

They’ll just play.  

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