BOSTON – The arrival of a new season wasn’t going to pull Orioles manager Brandon Hyde out of his old pregame routine.
Hyde walked from the team hotel to Fenway Park this morning, braving the cold that numbed his exposed skin. Always a good time in solitude to think or to clear his head before entering a cramped clubhouse.
“Waking up this morning and walking over here, brrr,” Hyde said while sitting in the dugout. “That was cold. I don’t know what the wind chill was, but … felt like every bit of 19. My ears right now, my nose, are still feeling it.
“I enjoy my walk over here. I walk to and from as much as I can. I just think walking, you reflect a little bit and you’re excited. Today I had a little faster pace going than normal because it was so cold, but honestly just enjoy the atmosphere.”
Opening Day produces “goosebump moments,” as Hyde described them. The number of years - he’s up to a dozen - and the weather don’t matter.
Adley Rutschman stepped to the plate in the first inning, on the Opening Day roster after denied the honor last year because of a triceps injury, and drove Corey Kluber’s fastball 402 feet to right field for the Orioles’ first run of 2023. The game time temperature was 38 degrees, but it could have been 80 with high humidity. The ball was still going to be 104.5 mph off the bat.
Goosebumps were going to surface, felt by an entire organization that’s resting so much of the rebuild plan on his broad shoulders.
Rutschman went 5-for-5 with a walk and four RBIs, and Kyle Gibson worked into the sixth inning in the Orioles’ tense 10-9 victory over the Red Sox. The five hits, four RBIs and six times reaching base are career highs for a player who can’t be crushed by weighty expectations.
The achievement needs more context.
Rutschman is the first player to go 5-for-5 or better with at least four RBIs on Opening Day, and he's only the third to go 5-for-5 with multiple RBIs in an opener since 1920, joining Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Billy Herman.
Rutschman and Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk in 1973 are the only catchers since 1901 to homer and reach base at least four times in their first opener. Rutschman, the first-overall draft pick in 2019, stands alone among catchers to homer and get on base five times or more.
Only 12 other players recorded five hits or more in an opener, and seven others reached base six-plus times.
He padded his historical day with an infield single in the ninth, on a ball that Rafael Devers charged and booted. He set the modern franchise record for most hits and times reaching base in any opener.
"If you do anything historical for the Baltimore Orioles ... there have been a lot of great players who wore this uniform," Hyde said. "It's not going to be the only time you're going to say that about Adley. He's going to be doing other things that are going to be firsts, as well, because he's just a super-special player. And he hasn't even played a full year yet. Good things coming."
"It's crazy," Rutschman said. "First Opening Day being able to come out here, the hits are awesome but the winning is more important. But definitely a cool thing to happen."
Rutschman kept turning questions about what he did into the importance and joy of a victory. Nothing individual was bigger than the club.
"I'm glad we won. It was a well-fought game," he said.
Rutschman didn't wake up this morning anticipating that something special would happen. It just came to him.
Or he just grabbed it.
"No idea," he said. "Opening Day, you're just trying to compete. We came out with the win and that's the most important thing.
"It was very cool. I had a couple Opening Days in college down in Arizona in front of 5,000 people, and this definitely blows that out of the water. Just to have that close game in the ninth inning and the crowd get so loud, you kind of sit there and you're like, 'This is pretty cool.'"
Rutschman never thinks about what he's already done and how he could top it as he prepares to hit again. He didn't get inside his own head.
"I try to take each AB as it comes, try to give my best effort on that AB," he said. "Whether I'm 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, that next AB is the most important one. Just try to stay with that mindset."
There were nerves before Rutschman arrived at the ballpark. Before he even left the hotel.
"I woke up and I felt it," he said. "I was like, 'Gosh.' I was hoping it would wait at least until I got to the field, but you wake up and you know it's game day."
Félix Bautista recorded the save, but only after he walked the first batter and gave up a single to Alex Verdugo, who raced to second base on Cedric Mullins' error, and a run-scoring infield hit by Justin Turner. Bautista struck out Adam Duvall to end it after thinking he had a double play bouncer from Masataka Yoshida. Jorge Mateo stepped on the bag and bounced his throw past Ryan Mountcastle.
The bigger bases worked wonders for the small ball approach. The Orioles had five steals, including two each by Mateo and Mullins, who finished 1-2 in the American League last season. The club's largest total since June 24, 2022 against the White Sox in Chicago.
"When we have an opportunity to run, we're gonna run," Hyde said. "We have some guys that can run. We've got two of the better guys in baseball for me in Cedric and Jorgie. ... We like to be aggressive and we're going to be aggressive with the lead, for sure."
The Orioles stole only 14 bases in spring training, fewest in the majors.
"I didn't do it to unleash them now," Hyde said, laughing. "OK, now we go? No. I don't need Mateo to work on stolen base jumps the first few weeks of spring training. And Cedric, either, and he was going to the WBC. I wanted these guys to break healthy. We just didn't have opportunities the last seven to 10 days, but the main focus was to have Mateo and Mullins be healthy for Opening Day."
Gibson allowed six hits, and half came on balls that each outfielder normally would catch. Keegan Akin let both inherited runners score to leave four runs on Gibson’s line in five-plus innings.
Ramón Urías broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer in the fourth after Gunnar Henderson drew his second walk. Urías began the day 6-for-13 lifetime against Kluber, who didn’t make it out of the inning and was charged with five runs and six hits with four walks in 3 1/3.
The Orioles hit him hard. Urías’ exit velocity was 102.8 mph, Austin Hays was 101.4 mph off the bat while lining out, and Mateo followed Adam Frazier’s double with a single the registered 106.2 mph.
Rutschman is the first Orioles catcher to homer on Opening Day since Matt Wieters in 2013. Kluber threw 28 pitches in the inning, walking Mountcastle and Henderson back-to-back with two outs.
The 25-year-old Rutschman is the youngest Oriole to homer on Opening Day since Adam Jones in 2010, and the youngest to do it in his first at-bat since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1984.
"Not a bad way to have your first one," Hyde said. "Swung the bat great, caught outstanding, gives us an early boost homer there right away in the first inning."
The cycle will have to wait for another day. Rutschman poked a sinker inside third base and down the line in the third inning but was thrown out trying for the double. He also inadvertently kicked Christian Arroyo in the head on an awkward slide, but both parties avoided injury.
Reliever Zack Kelly walked Rutschman in the fourth after replacing Kluber with the bases loaded and throwing a wild pitch. Kelly walked Mountcastle to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead, and 10 batters came to the plate.
Ryan Brasier entered in the fifth and the Orioles kept applying pressure at the plate and on the basepaths. They scored three runs, the last two on Rutschman’s single into left field. Frazier, Mateo and Cedric Mullins stole bases unchallenged and in succession. Mateo, who also swiped a bag in the fourth, singled to score Frazier.
The crowd grew more restless and vocal with every mistake. Brasier hit Urías to begin the inning and threw a wild pitch, and the Orioles built an 8-2 lead. Boston pitchers had eight walks at the midway point and permitted four steals.
The fifth arrived in the seventh inning when Frazier doubled again and scored on Mullins’ single. Mullins stole second, again without a throw, and he raced home on Rutschman’s third single. Rutschman was out at second trying to advance, but the Orioles led 10-4.
The Orioles turned two double plays in the first five innings for Gibson, who signed for $10 million in December and earned today’s honor with John Means on the 60-day injured list.
Gibson retired only one batter in his previous Opening Day assignment in 2021 with the Rangers. He allowed a run today after facing two hitters – Verdugo led off with a triple and scored on Devers’ grounder – but got through the inning on 18 pitches.
"I exponentially raised my outs gotten on Opening Day, so that's good," Gibson said.
Mullins chased Verdugo’s ball to left-center field and attempted to make a leaping catch at the wall, but the timing was off and it eluded him.
Nine straight batters were retired until Devers’ leadoff automatic double in the fourth on a line drive that nicked right fielder Austin Hays’ glove. Gibson hit Yoshida with out one, Duvall lined an RBI single off the left field wall and Trison Casas walked to load the bases.
This is where damage control becomes so important. Arroyo grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Anthony Santander took a few steps back on Turner’s fly ball in the sixth that fell in front of him after Devers’ leadoff single. That was it for Gibson, who threw 74 pitches in his Orioles debut.
"Really solid five innings," Hyde said. "As you saw, it was not easy conditions to pitch in. It was cold and the ball was slick. I thought he did a great job of pitching with a lead. A couple soft singles there in the sixth, unfortunately, but got ground balls when he needed to and threw the ball well."
"Just a good way to start the year," Gibson said. "Felt really good. Had to deal with some long offensive innings, which is always a good thing. I don't mind pitching in the cold, so you've got to find ways to stay loose. I was able to do that. The only inning I really felt tired was after that long top of the fourth, and worked on a few things in between innings and felt a lot better in the fifth. Hyder asked me if I wanted to go back out for the sixth, asked how I felt. Said I felt great. Things didn't go my way there in the sixth inning, but really good team win. Everybody played well.
"I know we had a few things that kind of made it a little bit of a dog fight, but a win's a win."
Gibson liked pitching to Rutschman and watching him take over a game at the plate.
"I enjoy throwing to him," he said. "He's got a good idea of how I want to pitch now. We had a couple good conversations after the inning about just what I was thinking and what he was thinking. His reputation of how he catches and how he calls a game is very high. And offensively I think everybody knows he's pretty good, too. That was a really awesome day for him to have that success on both sides of the ball, and look forward to more of it."
Cionel Pérez retired the side in order in the seventh but Bryan Baker allowed three runs in the eighth and left with two outs. Arroyo chased him with a two-run double on a line drive that spun Santander and sailed over his head, cutting the lead to 10-7. Logan Gillaspie celebrated his first Opening Day by striking out Connor Wong on a curveball.
"Huge punchout there, possibly game-changing strikeout," Hyde said. "Félix had a shortened spring training, it's 20 degrees out there and can't really get the grip for the split, it seemed like, but we got through it."
Mountcastle led off the top of the eighth with a double and was safe at third base when Kiké Hernández backhanded Urías’ ground ball and threw it past the bag. More booing from the crowd and a few chuckles from inside the press box. The performance had grown absurd.
The game would get crazier until the last out.
Worth every step that Hyde took this morning in frigid temperatures.
"I definitely need some hot chocolate and some lip therapy and some lotion for my face," Hyde said. "I feel like my lips are about to fall off right now."
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