With the O's wins, sometimes comes emotion

It was the bottom of the eighth inning on Thursday night at Camden Yards. There was one out and the Orioles and the first-place Twins were tied 3-3. If the Orioles could pull off a win, they would split a four-game series with a good club. If they were to lose, they would have lost three of four in the series.

Hard-throwing right-hander Jhoan Durán fired a splitter toward the outer half on his 1-1 pitch. Austin Hays drilled the ball deep toward the new left field wall. You better hit it good to clear that thing, and Hays did – just barely, but it got over – for a go-ahead homer.

It was a big hit, against a good club, late in the game that put his team ahead. If there was a time to show some emotion, this was it. Hays did just that. He came speeding around first base as the ball cleared the wall. Hays looked back toward his dugout and shouted something to his teammates. The emotion of hitting a big homer was washing over him.

Ryan Mountcastle followed with another homer and there was more emotion. A small crowd at Camden Yards sounded much larger.

We’ve seen some emotion from O’s players this year during some big moments that have led to wins. It’s not unlike things we’ve seen from opposing players when they are beating the Orioles. Such passion can get a team and a crowd fired up. Nothing wrong with letting out a scream or pumping a fist when you just delivered a key hit, homer, or strikeout.

No doubt manager Brandon Hyde wants his players to let their personalities come out. Some would have just rounded the bases with a stoic face. But Hays is different. We’ve seen Jorge López and Bruce Zimmermann show emotion at times on the mound, although probably in more reserved ways.

But Hays hit a go-ahead homer and he let his feelings be known. Nothing at all wrong with that.

An O’s team that has done a good job of staying upbeat through a lot of losses in recent years should show some passion and emotion when they are on the other end of results, especially in close games against some of the better teams.

Prospects on display for K.C.: While the arrival of some of the O's top prospects, including catcher Adley Rutschman and pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall is getting closer – maybe much closer – the Royals have two of their top 100 prospects already on the roster.

Infielder Bobby Witt Jr., taken No. 2 overall in the 2019 draft behind Rutschman, has played 22 games this season for Kansas City. He’s batting .229/.264/.349 with a .614 OPS, five doubles, a triple, a homer and seven RBIs.

Witt went 0-for-3 on Wednesday in the Royals' most recent game, snapping his 11-game hitting streak, which tied Eric Hosmer (2011) for the second-longest in club history among players younger than 22. During his hit streak, Witt batted .342 (14-for-41) with three doubles, a home run, four RBIs and four runs scored. He hit his first career homer on Tuesday at 21 years, 323 days old, and was the youngest Royal to homer since Adalberto Mondesi (21 years, 259 days) in 2017. He leads the major leagues with a sprint speed of 30.4 feet per second, according to Baseball Savant.

Witt is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball, with Rutschman second, according to MLBPipeline.com. On the Baseball America top 100, Rutschman is No. 1 and Witt is No. 3.

Kansas City also has the player ranked No. 46 by Baseball America and No. 49 by MLBPipeline.com in catcher/DH MJ Melendez. He is 23 and was their second-round pick in 2017. Over 10 games, Melendez is batting .412 (7-for-17).

He made his first career start at catcher on Wednesday and singled to lead off the eighth, and his hit safely in each of his first two games. Melendez hit 41 home runs between two levels in 2021 and earned the Joe Bauman Award, given to Minor League Baseball’s home run king. Last year, he ranked second in the minors in RBIs (103); third in slugging pct. (.625), OPS (1.011) and total bases (280); and fourth in extra-base hits (66).

When the Orioles have Rutschman, Rodriguez and Hall all on the big league roster, as is expected to happen this year, they will have three top 100 players in the big leagues at the same time. 

Rodriguez's scoreless outing: Speaking of Rodriguez, with some relief help last night, he pitched his third scoreless outing of his six starts this year. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two hits for Triple-A Norfolk at Nashville. Rodriguez walked three and fanned five on a season-high 81 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 3.33.

Rodriguez was coming off an outing when he allowed a season-high five runs. He had given up eight runs in 7 1/3 his past two starts as his ERA grew to 4.15 and was over 3.00 for the first time in his pro career.

But with Rutschman catching him for the 13th time in pro ball, Rodriguez was rolling early on at 46 pitches over three scoreless innings and 68 pitches through five. With one out in the sixth, he allowed a walk and single, and right-hander Isaac Mattson replaced him. Mattson stranded the two inherited runners.

The No. 6 overall prospect has now thrown, in order, 61, 67, 76, 77, 67 and 81 pitches for the Tides this year. 



Orioles and Royals Game 1 lineups
Talking about Rutschman, Hall, Baumann and more

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