Rodriguez gives Orioles another stellar start, Henderson almost hits for cycle, Pérez injured in 13-4 win (updated)

Corbin Burnes raised the bar to ridiculous heights on Opening Day by retiring 18 of 19 batters and striking out 11, a club record for an Orioles debut.

Grayson Rodriguez could have wilted from the challenge this afternoon, questioning his ability to live up to the standard set by Burnes. Instead, he grabbed it with both hands and did chin-ups.

Intimidation is a one-way street with the Orioles.

Rodriguez held the Angels to one run in six innings and tied his career high with nine strikeouts in the Orioles’ 13-4 victory before an announced crowd of 28,420 at Camden Yards, the latest thrashing after a 11-3 win on Thursday.

One team is really good. The other appears to be really bad, unless it’s because the Orioles are really good.

They broke open the game with a nine-run sixth inning, sending 12 batters to the plate. The first nine reached.

Gunnar Henderson came within a double of the cycle. Anthony Santander became the first Orioles player to homer in the first two games since Rio Ruiz in 2020.

Former Orioles outfielder Aaron Hicks struck out in all three at-bats, whiffing to begin the sixth for No. 9, which equaled Rodriguez’s total in Game 2 of an April 29 doubleheader in Detroit.

Rodriguez was removed after 84 pitches, 57 for strikes. He allowed four hits and walked one in stark contrast to his two starts against the Angels last season, when he registered a 9.64 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in 9 1/3 innings.

"I thought he could have gone a little further and in a normal situation he would, but that inning was so long," Hyde said. "I thought that was one of the better outings for me that he's thrown, just the way the changeup was outstanding, he was throwing in the high '90s, throwing a ton of strikes. Good breaking balls at times, on the attack early in the count, getting swings. I thought he was in total command."

Burnes set a nice example for the other starters. This is how it’s done. This is how an ace acts.

“I think it’s motivating,” Hyde said. “Especially after there’s all this hype and then he gives up the homer in the first. You just want to see him do so well and those guys are out there watching him closely, and how he came back from that. Retired (16) in a row with a ton of punchouts. That’s what it looks like.

“For them to see that, what that looks like, what that top of the rotation-type guy looks like, and how he was able once he gets to two strikes get guys to chase, get ahead with two strikes and get guys to chase, that was great for our young pitchers to see and that’s going to be helpful over the course of the whole year.”

Burnes and Rodriguez are the first pair of Orioles starters to begin a season with consecutive outings of six-plus innings with one run or fewer allowed and eight or more strikeouts, per MLB.com’s research department. It’s the seventh time that the Orioles got back-to-back starts of six-plus innings and one run or less to begin a season, and the first since Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman in 2011.

The 27 strikeouts by Orioles pitchers in the first two games are the most in franchise history to begin a season.

"I think it's Corbin Burnes, he's going to strike out a lot of hitters this year," Hyde said, "and I think Grayson's strikeout numbers are going to go up. He's got that kind of stuff. And as he learns to stay ahead in the count and be able to put guys away with two strikes, his second year in the big leagues, he's going to get better and better at that."

Rodriguez shut out the Angels over the first three innings and began the fourth by striking out Mike Trout on a changeup, the right-hander’s fifth of the day. But Taylor Ward deposited the next pitch, a slider, into the home bullpen to reduce the lead to 3-1.

Immune to being flustered since returning from his last demotion in 2023, Rodriguez struck out Brandon Drury on a changeup and Nolan Schanuel on a curveball.

Logan O’Hoppe singled with one out in the fifth and advanced on a wild pitch, and Rodriguez responded by fielding a sharp comebacker from Zach Neto and striking out Anthony Rendon on a 97.7 mph fastball.

"Just being able to establish fastball command, go after hitters, that helped me out a lot tonight," Rodriguez said.

Four of the nine strikeouts came on the changeup, with three on the fastball and two on the curve.

Asked about the changeup, Rodriguez smiled and said, "It was feeling pretty good. I was just glad I was able to throw it for strikes, was able to kind of put it anywhere I wanted it, so hopefully we're going to keep that rolling going forward."

Rodriguez's last start was Game 2 of the Division Series against the Rangers, when he allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings at Camden Yards.

"I was definitely pretty eager," he said. "That last outing really put a sour taste in my mouth, so being able to come back to this ballpark and kind of erase that and move on to 2024 was pretty big for me."

Burnes would be proud.

"I think there's a lot of friendly competition there," Rodriguez said. "He was talking some smack to me after the game, so I like that. That's gonna help me tremendously. I think this rotation, we're going to be very competitive with each other and we're gonna hold each other to high standards."

* Cionel Pérez gave up a run in the ninth on Jo Adell's leadoff triple and Ward's single, and he left the game with an injury.

Nick Vespi was optioned this morning and returned to Triple-A Norfolk, but he might be turning around.

Pérez had lower-back discomfort. He walked off the field with head athletic trainer Brian Ebel.

"We're going to reevaluate him tomorrow," Hyde said. "It's day-to-day as of right now. We'll see how he feels in the morning."

Mike Baumann was given ample time to warm up with the score 13-2. The Angels tried to stage a miraculous comeback but fell short, though they forced Keegan Akin and Yennier Cano to start throwing in the bullpen.

* Henderson and Adley Rutschman stood together in front of the mound before today’s first pitch, holding the Silver Slugger Awards that Hyde presented to them. They smiled and posed for photos, headed back to the dugout and did more damage when it was their turn to hit.

Henderson walloped the third leadoff home run of his career, a full-count, 419-foot shot to center field. Rutschman followed with a single to right field, the ball bouncing off the fence, and he scored from first base on Ryan Mountcastle’s double to left.

The Orioles had the offense humming again, scoring 10 or more runs in their first two games for the first time in team history. The Orioles hadn't scored nine or more runs before recording an out since at least 1957, and no team did it since the the 2022 Diamondbacks.

"It's fun watching us hit right now," Hyde said. "Gunnar leading off the game and a bunch of guys doing a lot of great things there in that sixth inning, just all the way down the line. We're competing at the plate."

Henderson saw four fastballs and a changeup before Griffin Canning tried to get a 94.3 mph four-seamer past him. He didn’t work.

Rutschman’s single was 105.6 mph off the bat, a hair shy of Henderson’s 106.6. Mountcastle’s 391-foot double off a changeup would have been a home run in the other 29 ballparks, but the ball hit the top of the wall and Rutschman kept motoring.

Santander doubled with two outs in the third and trotted home on another Mountcastle double, this one on a slider ripped down the left field line at 108 mph.

Henderson singled into right-center field with one out in the fifth, with his exit velocity at 110 mph. His two-run triple in the sixth was clocked at 111.8 mph. The Orioles rolled out the barrels today.

"I needed ear plugs," Rodriguez said. "It was a lot of fun watching from the dugout. That's for sure. With this lineup, pitching, it's gonna make it a lot easier with that kind of run support."

Mountcastle reached base three times, including a leadoff walk in the sixth. Ryan O’Hearn singled with Mountcastle breaking for second base to end Canning’s day, Austin Hays greeted Luis García with an RBI single, Cedric Mullins had a run-scoring double to right, and Jordan Westburg grounded a single up the middle to score two more and expand the lead to 7-1.

García didn’t retire a batter because Neto botched a potential double play ball.

Guillermo Zuñiga also took a beating. Henderson had his two-run triple, Rutschman walked and Santander hit a three-run homer for a 12-1 lead.

"I stuck to my approach, didn't try to get too big," Henderson said. "Laid off some good pitches and put a good swing on the other ones."

Tony Kemp pinch-hit for Henderson leading off the eighth and flied to the right field fence. Henderson wouldn't get a shot at the cycle.

"It's early in the year, so I get it, I get the decision," Henderson said. "I was just glad we came out with the win and I was able to help the team win."

Hyde emptied his bench. James McCann singled in the eighth, Colton Cowser doubled and Mountcastle flied to deep center field to complete the scoring. Mountcastle tilted back his head as he reached first base, again thinking he had a home run but settling for his third RBI.

The 24 runs are the second-most that the Orioles have scored to begin a season after tallying 25 in 2006. Rutschman set a franchise record by scoring five in the first two games.

"We're definitely learning from our experiences last year and being able to take them into this year and just even put better at-bats and keep passing the baton, I feel like that's what makes our offense click," Henderson said. "Just keep doing that."

Danny Coulombe and new father Jacob Webb each tossed a scoreless inning.

The Orioles have gone 92 consecutive regular season series without being swept.

* Here are the starters for the Royals series at Camden Yards:

Monday: RHP Dean Kremer vs. RHP Michael Wacha
Tuesday: LHP Cole Irvin vs. RHP Alec Marsh
Wednesday: RHP Corbin Burnes vs. LHP Cole Ragans

* Former Orioles left-hander DL Hall made his first start with the Brewers today and the second of his major league career and allowed two runs and six hits in four innings. He walked two batters, struck out one and surrendered a solo homer to Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez.

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