Rutschman impresses with two-strike approach, O's lose series opener at Milwaukee

Many hitters are in trouble when the count reaches two strikes against most big league pitchers. At that point, that pitcher has done a lot of the heavy lifting to get ahead and now tries to execute a put away pitch to end the at-bat, either with weak contact or with a strikeout.

Among all Orioles players, catcher Adley Rutschman is the best hitter in two-strike count situations, batting .267. That doesn’t mean just 0-2 but 1-2 or any count with two strikes. That may not sound that a great number but .267 ranks as tied for the best in the American League in such spots. Among all MLB hitters it is tied for sixth-best. Miami’s Luis Arráez leads all hitters batting .304 with two-strike counts. Rutschman’s OPS in such spots is .713, to rank ninth-best in the AL.

Rutschman has a batting average of .273 when the count is specifically 0-2 and .310 when the count is at 1-2.

He has a strong, as they call it, “two-strike approach.”

“It is definitely unique and it’s incredibly advanced,” manager Brandon Hyde said in San Francisco of Rutschman’s two-strike batting. “And for someone that has played a year in the big leagues to have that sort of confidence and bat-to-ball skills (is impressive). With no press in his game, he is just super relaxed and he understands the strikezone so well. He has so much confidence in his hands, that’s why he shows so many two strike handsy swings, handsy hits to left field.”

To say the least, the skipper is impressed by Rutschman in such instances.

“I just love his approach. He can beat you pull-side homer and he can beat you the other way with a single also. That is a really unique skillset right now.

“He is a different type of player and his two-strike hitting is rare in this game.”

Milwaukee wins in 10 innings: Right-hander Austin Voth was an out, really a strike away from sending last night's game to the 11th inning. The Orioles had not scored in the top of the 10th in a 3-3 tie with Milwaukee and Voth faced Joey Wiemer with two on and two outs and got ahead 1-2 in the count. Then he threw his best secondary, a curveball, but hung it. It wound up in left field as a game-winning hit and Milwaukee had a 4-3 walk-off win on a pitch he likely meant to be down and away, but it was up and in.

Milwaukee had tied the game in the last of the eighth.

The O's offense again scored three runs or less. They have now done that eight times in the last 11 games, getting eight runs each in the other three games. The Orioles are 3-5 in those eight games.

With Tampa Bay's win, the Birds fall 5.5 games back in the AL East.

The Orioles are now 14-6 in series-opening games and 9-2 in road series openers. But overall they have lost four of their past five opening games and six of nine.

They fall to 20-11 in road games and play the second game of this series tonight at Milwaukee with Dean Kremer (6-2, 4.43 ERA) pitching against right-hander Corbin Burnes (4-4, 3.75 ERA).

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