O's lose crazy series opener, falling behind by 11 runs before a late rally at Houston (updated)

HOUSTON – Some nights you win by 12 runs and some nights you lose big. It doesn’t happen on back-to-back nights very often.

It actually was about to happen to the Orioles, who were down by 11 runs after Houston scored nine in the sixth inning. But it did not, as the Orioles' relentless offense produced three homers in the eighth inning when they scored seven runs.

In the end, the crazy final was Houston 14, Orioles 11 in the series opener.

The roof fell in on Baltimore's pitching not long after they had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth.

The Orioles, who began this night leading the American League in team ERA and tied for first in MLB, allowed three runs in the Houston fifth and nine in the sixth.

During a season when right-hander Grayson Rodriguez has not often been bitten by the longball, he was tonight. A night when he struggled early but seemed to be settling in nicely.

Until a down-and-in curveball got lined into the Crawford Boxes in left field at Minute Maid Park and three runs scored.

Leading 3-2 in the last of the fifth, Rodriguez faced center fielder Jake Meyers with two on and two outs. Rodriguez needed one big pitch to put up the shutdown inning and keep the lead his team had just gotten for him.

But Meyers lined that breaking ball 100.8 mph off the bat turning a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead. His seventh homer led Houston to a three-run win tonight in the series-opening game.

The O’s were down by just two after the Meyers homer but the last of the sixth saw Houston score nine runs to open a 14-3 lead with their biggest inning since a 10-run outburst on June 17, 2022.

The Orioles had gone 7-2 in this park since the 2021 season but they lost tonight, allowing a season-high in runs which previously had been 11.

The O’s could not build on the momentum of taking two of three at Yankee Stadium. And even though the Yankees tonight lost 8-1 to Atlanta, New York (51-27) still holds a ½ game lead on the Orioles (49-26) atop the division.

Alex Bregman and Yainer Diaz singled ahead of Meyers’ home run that gave Houston the two-run lead. Rodriguez had allowed just seven homers on the year and three over his past seven games.

Leading by two, Houston put the game away with its massive sixth inning, which featured two doubles by Joey Loperfido and Jon Singleton’s two-run single. The inning also featured a one-out grounder by Loperfido that went off first baseman Mountcastle’s glove into short right for a double and advanced Mauricio Dubón to third. He scored on the throw into second and an error was charged to right fielder Anthony Santander. A couple of RBI doubles by José Altuve and Bregman followed as Houston opened the five-run lead. Then it got worse.

Rodriguez took the loss, his first since May 28, allowing seven runs and nine hits over five-plus innings. He is now 8-3 with an ERA of 3.82. He had a 2.36 ERA over his previous seven starts. The seven runs allowed matched his season high and was two off his career-worst.

After falling behind 2-0 after two innings the Orioles scored twice in the top of the third to tie this game 2-2 against Houston right-hander Jake Bloss, who was making his major league debut.

Bloss, drafted in round three just last year out of Georgetown, had made just four starts this year in High-A and eight at Double-A and got the call to help a Houston rotation dealing with numerous injuries. In his 12 games on the farm this year, Bloss was 4-2 with a 1.74 ERA.

But the Orioles stole two bases on him and scored two runs to tie the score. Gunnar Henderson, who extended his hitting streak to 14 with a first-inning single, walked and stole second base. That made him 13-for-13 on steal attempts after he got 10 bags all of last season.

Adley Rutschman’s single put runners on the corners and Ryan O’Hearn’s groundout scored a run and the O’s were down 2-1. O’Hearn would steal second and later score on Santander’s single to even the game 2-2. It was Santander’s 49th RBI. The O’s might have taken a 3-2 lead there but Meyers in center made a nice catch running in to rob Cedric Mullins.

Against Rodriguez, Houston had scored single runs in the first and second to gain the 2-0 lead.

Altuve led off the home first with an infield single and moved up a base on Jordan Westburg’s fourth error in the last nine games. He scored when Jordan Alvarez bounced into a double play. Altuve’s RBI double to left in the second made it 2-0 scoring Jon Singleton who led the inning with a single.

Bloss’ debut ended in what had to be disappointing fashion for him with an injury. With two outs and no one on in the Baltimore fourth he threw a pitch to Henderson and the trainer and manager Joe Espada came running out. He left with the trainer and Shawn Dubin fanned Henderson to complete the inning. The Astros announced he felt right shoulder discomfort.

So Bloss went 3 2/3 allowing six hits and two runs with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 79 pitches, 53 for strikes.

There was a brief delay tonight when home plate umpire Scott Barry was hit by a pitch that bounced and had to leave the game with an injury. Second base ump Tom Hanahan put on the gear and moved behind the plate at the start of the home fourth.

The O’s took a 3-2 lead on Dubin on a deep sac fly to right by Ryan Mountcastle in the fifth inning, but they missed a chance to score more. Westburg bounced into an inning-ending double play with two men on. Rutschman’s third hit of the night started that inning and he moved to third on O’Hearn’s single, scoring on the fly-out for the one-run lead.

Rutschman went 5-for-5 tonight to tie his career high and is now batting .305.

Henderson hit homers in the seventh and eighth innings as a late homer barrage got the Orioles within six runs in the eighth inning and then within three.  

Henderson's solo homer in the seventh was No. 22 and Mateo hit a two-run shot in the eighth (No. 5) to make the 14-6. When Henderson's 24th homer was a two-run shot it was 14-8. It was Henderson's second career two-homer game, the first was July 5, 2023 at Yankee Stadium.

Down by that margin, a Ryan Mountcastle RBI double made it 14-9 and Santander's two-run shot to right made it 14-11. What an amazing rally by the Orioles who hit four homers over the seventh and eighth.

For Santander that was No. 20 for the year, his sixth in the last seven games and his 11th in 20 games this month. The club record for homers in a month is 15 by Jim Gentile in August of 1961.

On the farm tonight: High-A Aberdeen right-hander Levi Wells left his start with right shoulder discomfort. Also Aberdeen third baseman Mac Horvath was removed from that same game after getting hit by a pitch in his left wrist.

Manager Brandon Hyde on the comeback that fell short: “Shows you, one, what we’re capable of offensively. We’re never out of a game. The guys feel we’re never out of the game. Just too many runs to come back from. But, that was a heckuva fight. We took good ABs. Westy lined out when there were two outs in the eighth inning. That could have gotten really interesting.

“Small victories. We made them use a guy for three days in a row and one of their back-end guys there. They were up 11 at one point. But you know proud of our guys fighting back the way they did."

Hyde on Rutschman's five-hit game: “How about Rutsch’s night? Five for five with bullets everywhere. O’Hearn just misses that homer to center. We took a lot of really good swings tonight.

“We had a really good night offensively. We just had a rare off-pitching night for me. Those games are going to happen, those things are going to happen. Proud of our guys for fighting back."

Will O's bullpen be okay for the rest of the series or is a move needed?: “I wouldn’t say the series but we should be good for tomorrow.”

Rodriguez on giving up the three-run homer: “That is a pitch I want back. Obviously, he hits curveballs well, knew that coming in. But the curveball was really working for me there towards that point in the game. I think it was the right pitch, just the wrong location.”

Santander, O's can take momentum from this even in losing: “Sure. You know we always stay in the game. We never give away an AB. Every hitter we go out there to compete and score some runs and that is what we did tonight even with that loss.”

The Orioles have now homered in 20 straight games to tie the club record first set July 17 to Aug. 9, 1988. This was the fifth time this year they hit four homers in a game and first time they lost such a game. 

 

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