Suárez has scoreless start, Mateo mashes in return and Orioles win 4-0 for sixth shutout (updated)

Albert Suárez turned, watched and wondered. Breath held and heart rate accelerated.

The ballpark was challenged to hold Sean Murphy’s fly ball in the second inning. It had the sound and look of a three-run homer – the expected outcome everywhere except Camden Yards, per Statcast tracking. Instead, Austin Hays retreated to the wall, reached up and made the catch. Couldn’t fit a sheet of paper between him and the padding.

This is where a start and a game can spin.

The Orioles came within inches of falling behind against former All-Star and Cy Young runner-up Max Fried, but 392 feet and 103.9 mph weren’t sufficient. They batted in the bottom half of the inning, the first two Orioles reached and Jorge Mateo marked his return to the active roster by launching a two-strike curveball into the bullpen.

Confirmation that 402 feet and 101.3 mph can get the job done.

"I thought (Murphy's) ball was gone," said manager Brandon Hyde. "You've got to hit it to the right part of the park here in left field. Mateo knows the bullpen is a little closer."

Mateo’s welcome-back moment and Suárez’s 5 1/3 scoreless innings positioned the Orioles for a 4-0 victory over the Braves before an announced crowd of 24,048, a nice follow to the four-game sweep in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Austin Hays produced his first three-hit game of the season, the bullpen logged 3 2/3 shutout innings, and the Orioles ran their record to 44-22. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 games and 15 of 19.

They experience more adversity, losing reliever Danny Coulombe to the injured list with left elbow inflammation, and manage to keep the party alive.

Cionel Pérez caught Mateo’s ball in his cap and ran down the bullpen area with a huge smile on his face. This team is having fun while ruining the mood of their opponents.

"What a great at-bat," Hyde said. "Haysy, too. Haysy hasn't played in a handful of days and gets three huge hits for us. Two guys who have been out of the lineup for different reasons getting enormous hits for us tonight."

Mateo hadn’t played since June 2, when Cedric Mullins inadvertently struck him on the helmet with a bat near the on-deck circle. Mateo was placed on the seven-day concussion injured list.

"I started feeling better the very next day, and then two to three days after that I really started to feel a lot better," Mateo said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. "It was really something unexpected, and when it happened my head was hurting a lot."

Mateo's homer was only the second of his career at 0-2.

"I was really trying to put the ball in play in that count," he said. "Early in the count I was sitting on certain pitches, but in that spot with an 0-2 count I was just trying to put the ball in play.

"I feel really good about being able to come back and help the team win tonight. Thankfully, I've been feeling better little by little, and that continued tonight."

Suárez allowed four hits, walked three, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 1.61. Logic says he’d be more useful in bulk relief in a shortened bullpen, but the rotation needs him. Four of his seven starts have been scoreless.

"That's what he's done almost every time, if not every time he's taken the ball," Hyde said. "Just a professional effort. Incredible job."

Michael Harris II led off the top of the first inning with a triple off the out-of-town scoreboard and didn’t score. He held on Ozzie Albies’ ground ball to Mateo, Austin Riley struck out and Matt Olson popped up.

Two walks set up the Braves for a breakthrough second inning. The new left field dimensions knocked them down.

"This game's funny that way," Hyde said.

"I think in the other 29 different ballparks that's a home run," Suárez said. "I'm glad we were playing at home today."

"I was just trying to get back there," Hays said. "I had checked the wind before and I thought the wind was blowing out, based off what I had checked, but it seemed like that ball kind of died at the end. I was just trying to get back to the wall and find it. Sure enough, I still had some room. I'm glad whatever was going on with the wind, it held it in a little bit."

A leadoff walk in the fourth and one-out single in the fifth didn’t hurt Suárez and he returned for the sixth at 82 pitches. Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna singled with one out, Suárez was removed at 97 pitches and Jacob Webb stranded the runners.

Webb has permitted only two of 15 inherited runners to score this year.

"He's never too up, he's never too down," Hyde said of Suárez. "He pitches like a veteran pitcher where he's not afraid of the moment or gets nervous. He's just all about executing his pitches. He's done an unbelievable job."

Harris walked with two outs in the seventh and Jordan Westburg committed his second error in two games. Yennier Cano replaced Webb and struck out Austin Riley on a nasty changeup.

Pérez tossed a scoreless eighth, stranding a runner, and Dillon Tate survived a one-out walk in the ninth. The bullpen has allowed only two runs in the last 40 2/3 innings.

A sixth shutout was in the bag.

"Getting back home late last night and short rest for everybody here, but we always find ways to get guys on base and win a game," Suárez said.

"Our guys take care of themselves," Hays said. "They do the right things, take care of their bodies so we can come out tonight and still have a lot of energy. Even though there's tough travel, we don't make excuses for ourselves and we're always ready to go, no matter what the day before looked like. That's why our team shows up night in and night out."

Hays’ last game with more than two hits was Sept. 6, 2023, when he went 4-for-4 in Anaheim. He singled in the second, fourth and sixth innings tonight, the last at 109.9 mph - his hardest of the season - scoring Ryan Mountcastle after a leadoff walk and Anthony Santander’s single.

The runners moved up after left fielder Jarred Kelenic overran the ball, but Pierce Johson replaced Fried and kept the margin at four.

Hays is 10-for-21 in his last seven games with an at-bat.

"I feel good," he said. "I had the few games' rest because of the ribs. Kind of rest the rest of your body when you're nursing something like that. Yeah, feel good."

* Jonathan Heasley started for Triple-A Norfolk and allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He surrendered two home runs.

Double-A Bowie’s Alex Pham tossed six scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts. Jud Fabian had three hits, including his 10th home run.

Max Wagner came out of the game with back discomfort.

Coulombe injury latest obstacle Orioles must clear
O's game blog: Albert Suárez pitches series opener...

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