Orioles manager Brandon Hyde strolled to the mound yesterday in the bottom of the 10th inning, had a lengthy chat with Austin Voth, and gave the reliever an encouraging slap on the butt. A teammate smacked his chest.
The Orioles were battering Voth more than the Blue Jays.
Whit Merrifield followed Matt Chapman’s strikeout with a run-scoring single into center field to tie a game that would last through the 11th. A game that might be the defining moment in the 2023 season.
The visitors erupted for five runs in their next turn and won 8-3 to complete the sweep, the first in a three-game series in Toronto since 2005.
So special because it’s a division rival with one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball.
So special because it happened at a venue that’s caused so much pain in past seasons, including the 0-10 record at Rogers Centre in 2018.
So special because Adley Rutschman (on the one-year anniversary of his debut, in case you somehow missed that), Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle went a combined 0-for-14 in the second through fourth spots in the order, and it didn’t matter a lick.
So special because Yennier Cano, Félix Bautista and Bryan Baker weren’t available out of the bullpen, and Mychal Givens, reinstated from the injured list earlier in the day, hadn’t pitched in a major league game since Oct. 5 with the Mets.
Givens surrendered the tying run in the seventh, but the Orioles didn’t let the Blue Jays take another lead. Voth was charged with an unearned run and struck out three batters in 1 1/3 innings, and Mike Baumann improved to 3-0 by stranding an inherited runner and retiring all four batters faced.
This team just keeps finding a way. And Hyde keeps deflecting questions about statement games.
“I don’t think we’re trying to make any sort of a statement,” he said again yesterday as the media gathered for his post-game session that aired on MASN.
It does feel that way, though.
A lot of people, myself included, point to the 17-inning win in Boston on May 6, 2012, when Chris Davis tossed two scoreless innings to become a hero after striking out five times and grounding into a double play, as the game that launched the Orioles. The exact moment when it felt real, that they were going to be in the race for the long haul. When the doubters began to thin out.
If yesterday isn’t that moment in 2023, and it resulted in the 18th comeback win of the season, most in the majors, and left them 2 ½ games behind the first-place Rays, then it must be Saturday afternoon.
Right now, I’m more inclined to point to that one.
Down 5-2 with two outs in the eighth in Toronto. Could put this one to bed in past seasons. But part-timer Ryan O’Hearn hits a game-tying three-run homer, and the Orioles win 6-5 in 10 innings.
I mean, seriously?
The Orioles already had a batch of “I can’t believe what just happened” instances before they crossed the border, but this really was one for the books. This was 1979 again, with a different hero every night.
I’m waiting for Lenn Sakata to hit a walk-off homer.
The Orioles have gone 54 multi-game series in a row without being swept, their longest streak since moving to Baltimore in 1954, according to STATS. It’s the major’s second-longest streak over the past 15 seasons behind Atlanta’s 62.
The doubters assumed the Orioles would go 0-6 on this trip, which includes three games at Yankee Stadium beginning Tuesday night. The worst they can do is split.
Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells and Kyle Gibson start for the Orioles, while the Yankees send Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt to the mound.
The off-day comes at an ideal time. Let the bullpen recharge.
Dean Kremer didn’t get the decision yesterday after allowing one run, scattering nine hits and tying his career high with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He’s posted a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts.
Cedric Mullins delivered the Orioles’ third five-hit game of the season yesterday, joining Rutschman on March 30 and Austin Hays on April 1. Per STATS, the club record is four in 1966, 1974 and 2019.
Adam Frazier supposedly is keeping second base warm for one of the prospects down below, but he’s batting .344 (11-for-32) in his last nine games with two home runs, a triple and four RBIs, and he’s reached base safely in his last 15 games. He finds ways to contribute even if it isn’t always pretty, like fielder’s choice grounders and scoring on a wild pitch.
The Orioles have won 22 of their last 31 games, 25 of 35, and 27 of 38. They own the second-best record in the majors at 31-16.
They didn’t register their 31st win last season until the 70th game of the season on June 22. They were 31-39. The bandwagon had plenty of room on it.
We don’t know that something magic is happening in 2023.
It does feel that way, though.
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