Tough night for the pitching: O's dig early hole in loss in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Maybe Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez was due for a poor outing. He had ended last year pitching to an ERA of 2.26 his last 12 regular-season starts and then started the 2024 season going 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA over four starts.

That run ended big time Tuesday night at Angel Stadium when the home team took a 7-0 lead in the fourth and then the Los Angeles Angels held off a Baltimore rally to win 7-4.

The Orioles began the day in first place by a ½ game but ended it in second by a ½ game as they lost and the New York Yankees won.

With the Orioles down big early, Rodriguez came out for the fifth inning with his pitch count at 71 but was removed for Dillon Tate with one out and one on. Manager Brandon Hyde explained to a reporter who asked if he kept Rodriguez in to try and build his confidence, that it wasn’t about that at all.

“Not really worried about his confidence," he said. "That was more about we had a long way to go in the game and our bullpen has been pretty taxed, so tried to get through that fifth inning.”

But Rodriguez gave up several hard-hit balls and exited with an ERA of 4.45. He allowed a career-high 11 hits in 4 1/3 and gave up seven runs, two off his career-high.

“Really just missing with the heater down the middle,” he said of a night with poor command and location. “Trying to elevate to guys, obviously (Mike) Trout there in the first inning, tried to go up with it. Just missed right down the middle and got hurt with it. Left a lot of pitches thigh high.

“I think you learn a lot from it. Slider command, real bad. Obviously missed in with it to righties and it was staying up. Threw some good ones to (Miguel) Sano, but obviously got hurt with a few as well.”

He gave up a leadoff homer to Trout in the first and will try to move on from that one.

“You have to flush it. Obviously he’s a Hall of Fame player that is going to hit home runs. Unfortunate it was off me. So just got to keep pitching.”

O’s starting pitchers had thrown three scoreless outings the last five games but that came crashing down early on last night and the O’s will need to win today to take this series.

Another Gunnar bomb: Gunnar Henderson drove in two of the O’s four runs with a sac fly and solo homer. He crushed a breaking ball off lefty Matt Moore 414 feet to right in the seventh. He keeps hitting balls hard and that was his fourth homer in the last eight games.

Ryan O’Hearn, who hit a two-run double in the fifth, talked about how Gunnar seems to keep consistently squaring up baseballs.

“Fun to watch. Special player. If somebody leaves a mistake in the middle of the strikezone, he usually hammers it. That is what we’ve come to expect from Gunnar and just got to keep on doing it,” O’Hearn said.

Gunnar on the young bucks: It has been quite a start to the season for young O's hitters Colton Cowser and Jordan Westburg. Cowser is batting .345 with six doubles, six homers, 17 RBIs and an OPS of 1.149. Westburg is hitting .316 with five doubles, a triple, five homers, 18 RBIs and an OPS of .974.

Henderson said he felt strongly that both players would show their true talents this season.

“I got to see them doing this in the minors – more Westy than Cowser, didn’t get as much chance to play with him on the farm – but I knew it was only a matter of time before they got to their normal selves up here. They are showing everyone what they can do. Very happy for them," he said.

And he believes that was the real key, just the players settling in more with the team and feeling more comfortable on the field and with their teammates in the clubhouse.

“Yeah. We are seeing two worlds of difference from Cowser last year to this year. He’s got confidence, knowing he belongs up here. He’s proving that. Same thing with Westy. Getting experience up here last year was big and he had a good ending to his 2023 and took it into this year. Really showing what he can do now," said Henderson.

Final notes: The O's play the season's fourth rubber match game today and they are 2-1 in such contests.

Adley Rutschman had three hits last night. He is 11-for-24 his last five games, with four multi-hit games and seven RBIs. Over his past 10 games he is batting .378 with an OPS of .938.

In his season debut with the Orioles, Heston Kjerstad went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Jackson Holliday's hard-hit groundball single up the middle, hit 104.4 mph in the fifth, was his second career MLB hit. He is now 2-for-34 (.059) in his first 10 big league games.

The Orioles are 3-2 on the road trip that ends this afternoon.

The Angels had scored just nine runs during a five-game losing streak until breaking out last night. Trout hit his sixth career leadoff homer in the first inning, but his most recent was Sept. 28, 2012. He had not hit leadoff since the 2020 season.

The O's bullpen pitched 3 2/3 scoreless Tuesday night but has been scored on in 10 of the last 12 games with an ERA of 5.93 in that span. 


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