Rougned Odor stood on the grass in front of the Orioles’ dugout tonight and waited to hug Adley Rutschman in the second inning, a tight embrace that lasted almost as long as the ball’s flight before it landed in front of the railing above the scoreboard in right and bounced onto the field.
Robinson Chirinos held up the home run chain on the top step, placed it around the catcher’s neck, threw both arms around him and patted his back.
Rutschman removed his helmet first. A veteran move by the rookie.
Fans rose in unison and roared, aware that Rutschman’s fourth major league home run was also his first at Camden Yards. And they got to witness it.
They also saw Jordan Lyles grind early and hold the Angels to one run in six-plus innings, Ryan Mountcastle celebrate his return to the lineup with a run-scoring double and sacrifice fly, and the Orioles win their season-high fifth game in a row, 4-1.
The Orioles (40-44) hadn’t built a streak of this length since winning six straight from Aug. 7-13, 2020. Their 40th victory last year came in their 126th game on Aug. 26 against the Angels.
Jorge López recorded his 15th save and second in two nights after stranding a runner.
Angels rookie starter Chase Silseth tried to get a 96 mph fastball past Rutschman. The contact was loud but unable to match the volume of the ovation that followed.
"That was a huge hit, and guys were pumped for him," said manager Brandon Hyde. "It was a great swing, and I'm sure it felt good the first time in front of the home fans. The first of many to come."
Rutschman would have left the ballpark with two home runs in past years, but his fly ball to left field in the fifth faded on the warning track.
He wasn't going to complain. The first home run at Camden Yards made his night.
"It was awesome," he said. "Everyone cheering, I hear the fans behind my back. It's definitely a cool moment."
Rutschman paused rounding second, saying he didn't know if the ball cleared.
"Just kind of waiting until the umpires signaled," he said.
Lyles was living on the edge in the early innings of tonight’s game.
That’s only fine when it’s home plate.
Lyles left the bases loaded in the first, two runners in scoring position in the second and one in scoring position in the third. The Angels were 0-for-5 with RISP, but they worked Lyles for 67 pitches.
Thirty came in the third. Mike Trout saw eight and popped up, Shohei Ohtani saw six and grounded out, Taylor Ward saw seven and doubled, and Jared Walsh saw nine and struck out on a curveball that Rutschman blocked.
"He struggled finding the sinker, it looked like to me," Hyde said. "I think that's where experience really comes into play, when you're searching a little bit, but you have something to go to to get outs. To me, that was a veteran performance just because of the lack of command with his fastball, and finding it later in the game."
"We had some sketchy innings there," Lyles said, "a lot of traffic early on."
Rutschman’s throwing error on Brandon Marsh’s stolen base in the second gave the Angels two chances to take the lead. Kurt Suzuki struck out on a slider to conclude a seven-pitch at-bat and former Oriole Jonathan Villar bunted the next pitch back to the mound.
Villar has skills, for sure, but his judgment can be lacking.
Cedric Mullins did Lyles a favor by sprinting into left-center and making a diving catch to rob Luis Rengifo leading off the fourth. Lyles retired the side in order on eight pitches. And he stranded Villar in a 10-pitch fifth, with Austin Hays racing back twice in left field to snare screaming liners from Trout and Ohtani.
"We kind of settled down, got some quick outs, even if they were loud outs our defense made great plays on," Lyles said. "Especially our outfield. They were running balls down all night."
Lyles reached 100 pitches after retiring the side in order in the sixth – and 10 of the last 11 batters and 14 of 16. Michael Stefanic led off the seventh with a double and Lyles left to a standing ovation.
Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice fly off Joey Krehbiel left a run on Lyles’ line, along with five hits, two walks and four strikeouts. He threw 104 pitches.
Hyde checked on Lyles between the sixth and seventh.
"It was brief, but he really wanted to go back out there," Hyde said. "He gave up a double, but he had good stuff. And our 'pen is thin and we've played a lot of close games lately, and two extra-inning games, so if he felt like he could get another one, I was going to allow him."
"He didn't fight me back too much when I wanted to go back out for the seventh," Lyles said.
Lyles has allowed two runs in his last two starts covering 12 1/3 innings.
The rotation hasn’t allowed more than an earned run in 15 of the last 20 games.
"Jordan was awesome," Hyde said. "He struggled early with command, was behind a lot of hitters early, continued to still put up zeros. He got better by the fourth and fifth inning. It wasn't his sharpest night, but amazing what you can do when you know how to pitch, and make big pitches in big spots."
Mullins keeps living in denial, hustling into right-center in the eighth and making a sensational leaping catch to rob Trout of extra bases. Cionel Pérez struck out Ohtani and Ward and received an enthusiastic handshake from Rutschman.
"I thought our outfield defense tonight once again was unbelievable," Hyde said. "Cedric's making a play or two a game, it seems like. That's not an easy catch for Haysie, the bullet Trout hit. We're just playing great outfield defense and it's fun to watch us right now."
Mountcastle recovered from his sinus infection and doubled in the third to score Anthony Santander, who singled with two outs. Jorge Mateo led off the fifth with a single, stole his 21st base in 24 attempts, advanced on Mullins’ bloop single and scored on Trey Mancini's single after Andrew Wantz entered the game.
A fielder’s choice grounder from Santander was followed by Mountcastle’s fly ball to deep right that gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead.
Odor walked in the sixth and stole his first base since Sept. 28, 2019.
The Orioles are 26-26 since May 12. It's safe to glance at the standings again.
"I feel like our team comes to the ballpark feeling like we're going to win," Hyde said, "and that's a different feeling, I'm sure, that's been in the clubhouse for the last few years."
"This team comes out to compete every single day," Rutschman said. "Guys go and do their work, and they work on getting better, and I think that in itself speaks volumes."
Said Lyles: "I definitely think we're a .500 club or better going for the rest of the year, for sure."
Notes: The Angels changed their starter for Friday night, with Reid Detmers coming off the taxi squad to replace Michael Lorenzen, who went on the injured list with a strained right shoulder. The Orioles will face three straight left-handers in the series.
Heston Kjerstad had three more hits and a walk tonight at Single-A Delmarva. He's batting .446 with a 1.155 OPS.