Rutschman walk-off home run in ninth keeps Orioles' sweepless streak alive (updated)

Adley Rutschman took a big swing, stumbled back and twisted his torso, looking like a golfer using body English to keep the ball from hitting the water or sand.

Rutschman crossed home plate and was drenched.

The second walk-off home run of his career in the ninth inning gave the Orioles an improbable 3-2 win over the Blue Jays before an announced “Field Trip Day” crowd of 29,578 at Camden Yards. Jordan Westburg led off with an infield single against Jordan Romano after defensive replacement Isiah Kiner-Falefa mishandled a grounder and Rutschman lofted a high drive to right that kept carrying to the first row of the flag court.

The ball bounced onto the field and Rutschman waved his arm above his head to signal home run. A review upheld his gesture.

"I was running out of the box, I got around the bases pretty quick," he said at his locker after a long postgame workout. "It snuck out."

Kyle Bradish lasted only four innings because of his pitch count and the Orioles kept stalling in the clutch, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranding 11, but their sweepless streak in the regular season reached 105 series to tie the 1903-05 New York Giants for third-longest in major league history. The 1906-09 Cubs are next at 115.

With the Yankees playing tonight, the Orioles moved into a tie for first place at 27-14. They haven't dropped a series against a division opponent in 17 consecutive series, the longest streak in franchise history per the Elias Sports Bureau.

The last sweep against them was May 15, 2022 in Detroit, exactly two years ago today. They were barreling toward one today.

"You normally don't win games like that when you leave that many guys on base and have that many scoring opportunities, but we did because of our pitching today," said manager Brandon Hyde.

"It feels great to win," Rutschman said. "Our guys are really resilient. They have been all year. I think it's always the next guy up and we never think we're out of it. I was really proud of everyone today. I think it's just a testament to our team just staying in it."

Rutschman insists that the club isn't consumed by the streak.

"I think we take every game just kind of pitch-by-pitch and try to really compartmentalize stuff," he said. "I guess that's a result of guys just continuing to try to get better, but I think we're focused on like the long-term picture and getting where we want to be. But I think that is a cool testament to our team."

"We have big-time character and our guys definitely play to win," Hyde said. "We don't make it easy on ourselves sometimes and we'd like to start cashing in some of these runs to start getting some leads and not play so many types of these games, but definitely take the win."

The Orioles posted their 12th comeback win and fifth walk-off. Rutschman's walk-off homer was the first by the Orioles when trailing since Rio Ruiz on Aug. 11, 2019 against the Astros.

"I think it says a lot about our team," said Rutschman, who has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career. "It's always guys just picking each other up and continuing to progress and just have each other's backs. It's a fun group to be a part of and it's like guys bring it every single day."

The reaction from Westburg to batting leadoff today was delivered in his usual understated manner. Quiet voice, no expression. Hyde relayed it to the media as an “OK.”

Westburg didn’t make a big deal about it. He prepared the same, studying the tendencies of Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. He pretty much stuck to his usual routine.

And then, in his first at-bat atop a major league lineup, he drove a fastball into the first row of seats in right-center field.

Let everyone else fuss over it.

"No better way to start a game," Rutschman said. "He's a phenomenal hitter and has been all year and it's been fun to watch."

Westburg brought leadoff experience as a professional, accumulating 249 at-bats in the role in the minors and posting a .325 average and .988 OPS. He hit 14 home runs. But Gunnar Henderson will return to the top spot, according to Hyde, with the Mariners starting three right-handers.

Westburg's next two trips to the plate today resulted in strikeouts against Kikuchi, and Yimi García struck him out in the seventh with two runners in scoring position and no outs. An intentional walk to Rutschman loaded the bases, but Ryan Mountcastle fouled out and Henderson bounced out.

Anthony Santander led off the eighth with a double, poking a fastball down the left field line, and Jorge Mateo laid down a sacrifice bunt. Colton Cowser was walked intentionally and James McCann made four attempts to put down a bunt – including once during a pitch clock violation – and twice hit the dirt to avoid being drilled. The first resulted in a strike call to put him behind 0-1.

McCann finally got the ball down, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fielded it and recorded the out at home. The play was subjected to a lengthy review, but Danny Jansen made the tag and didn’t block the plate.

Ramón Urías pinch-hit for Kyle Stowers and struck out against left-hander Tim Mayza.

Lots to digest here, including the two-strike bunt and Ryan O’Hearn staying on the bench until entering in right field in the ninth as Santander’s replacement.

Hyde explained that sending up O'Hearn for McCann would have brought Mayza into the game as the counter move. And he was running out of players.

Asked whether he was expressing his trust McCann's bunting, Hyde said, "I think that was his strategy. I had it on early and then took it off and then Mac wanted to try to get that run scored."

Adding to the bizarre nature of the sequence was Santander at third base with a bruised knee, which forced him out of the game in the ninth. He banged it against the wall in right field in the third while chasing Bo Bichette's fly ball. The discomfort increased after he slid into second base on his leadoff double and the slide into the plate.

"It's just a bruise, so hopefully he's going to be OK," Hyde said.

"I don't think that (McCann) knew, and I didn't know at the time, that Santander's knee blew up on the slide into second base. It was a little bit of a surprise for everybody, almost a heck of a play. He's a total team guy who's just trying to get the run in anyway he can."

Bradish allowed two runs in four innings and his pitch count accelerated after the first. He struck out Kevin Kiermaier on his 85th pitch of the game to strand a runner in the fourth while Jacob Webb warmed and a light rain continued to fall.

Eighteen fouls balls hastened Bradish’s exit in his third start since his reinstatement from the injured list.

Webb made his earliest appearance of the season in the fifth – and tied his earliest with the Orioles – and loaded the bases with three walks. He threw 32 pitches but escaped the jam.

Bradish retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the first, striking out Daulton Varsho on a 97.6 mph sinker. An infield single and walk put him in a one-out jam in the second, but he got a disputed called third strike on Daniel Vogelbach on another sinker and a ground ball from Ernie Clement on his 30th pitch of the inning.

George Springer doubled with one out in the third on a ball that bounced off third base and rolled down the left field line. Santander ran down Varsho’s fly ball in deep right-center, and Mateo ranged behind second base to glove Guerrero’s grounder and prevent Springer from scoring. But Bichette brought home both runners with a double to right for a 2-1 lead.

Santander didn’t take a direct path to the ball and it deflected off his glove at the track before he slammed into the fence. Santander was slow to get up and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel stood on the top step of the dugout, with Hyde on the dirt, but he stayed in the game and led off the fourth with a single.

His removal didn’t come until the top of the ninth, and O’Hearn made a sliding catch to rob Clement.

Good thing O'Hearn didn't pinch-hitter earlier, as it turns out.

Bradish threw 23 pitches in the third and 22 in the fourth.  

"They did a good job fouling a lot of good pitches off," Bradish said. "Got to keep working on working deeper in game and getting early contact and early outs."

The Orioles put two runners in scoring position with one out in the fourth, with Cowser’s broken-bat single interrupting a 7-for-55 slump and Jansen charged with a passed ball. But McCann and Cedric Mullins struck out.

Mullins went 0-for-2 and has five hits in his last 59 at-bats. Austin Hays pinch-hit for him in the seventh after McCann’s leadoff bloop single to right and doubled to right-center in his first appearance since April 20. Kiermaier was shaded far to the left and couldn’t run down the ball.

Hays was 5-for-45 before the at-bat. Stowers pinch-ran for him.

"He's still got a little bit lingering effects in the calf," Hyde said of Hays. "When he was activated, that morning actually there was some soreness. That's why he didn't start today. We wanted to give him an extra day. Today it was a little sore but better. And with an off-day tomorrow, hopefully he's ready to go after the off-day."

Cionel Pérez needed six pitches to plow through the Jays in the sixth and but issued a leadoff walk in the seventh. Mike Baumann stranded a runner, getting a generous third strike called on Guerrero, and he retired the side in order in the eighth. Danny Coulombe earned the win with a scoreless ninth.

The streak lives on, with the Orioles coming up with a special anniversary celebration.

"It's tough to hold this offense down," Bradish said. "It was only a matter of time before we got some runners across and it came in the ninth inning for the walk-off. That's a good one right there."

* Triple-A Norfolk left-hander Andrew Suárez was granted his release today.

Suárez posted a 5.93 ERA and 1.756 WHIP in 10 appearances.

Double-A Bowie’s Trace Bright tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings today in a 4-0 win in Binghamton. Nick Richmond (1 1/3 innings), Ryan Watson (2 1/3) and Keagan Gillies (one) hung the rest of the zeros.

Third baseman Collin Burns had two hits, including his second home run.

Single-A Delmarva’s Braylin Tavera went on the injured list with a sprained right shoulder.

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