Ruiz had provided a lead in the top of the 12th with his run-scoring single off Tigers left-hander Daniel Stumpf, but he was bumped down every story and allowed to eat his postgame meal in peace after Ryan Eades issued a bases-loaded walk and John Hicks followed with the home run.
Given another chance today to steal some of the glory, Ruiz hit a tie-breaking two-run homer off Edwin Jackson in the third inning and the Orioles pulled away for an 8-2 victory at rainy Comerica Park.
Ruiz also singled and walked, and the Orioles improved to 49-100 with 13 games left on their schedule. The Tigers are 44-104 and easing closer to the top pick in the 2020 First-Year Player Draft.
Asher Wojciechowski picked up the win after holding the Tigers to two runs over five innings. He retired eight of the last nine batters and 12 of 14 before a 39-minute rain delay removed him from the game.
“I thought he battled,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He had a little bit of an extended rest, didn’t have his best stuff, but was able to get through those first couple of innings and really competed through five without his best stuff. He did a great job of keeping us right there.”
Anthony Santander broke an 0-for-27 slump with a two-out, two-run single off Matt Hall in the eighth inning for an 8-2 lead.
“He was definitely pressing and that’s why I gave him a day off a couple days ago and was probably going to give him one tomorrow, also,” Hyde said. “I’m going to reconsider that now. But yeah, he was just trying to do way too much. A young player that got into a little bit of a funk that he just looks anxious to me and he’s a little more jumpy than normal and kind of settled down that last AB and got that big hit to the opposite field.”
Dwight Smith Jr. started the rally in the third inning with a two-out triple off Jackson and he scored on Hanser Alberto’s bunt single. Ruiz won an eight-pitch battle with Jackson, pulling a slider into the right field seats for his 11th homer.
“It was huge,” Ruiz said. “The rest of our offensive the rest of the game still continued to put up runs, and hats off to Wojo, our bullpen limiting them. They were in some tough stuffs, but they got out of it, so credit to all of them.
“He had thrown me a cutter earlier in the first at-bat and I kind of had that in the back of my head. I kind of stepped out and was looking something over the middle of the plate. It just happened to be a slider, and I put a barrel on it.”
Asked about his swing lately, Ruiz said, “I’m fine. I think it’s kind of been there the whole year, just some things here and there and making adjustments. That’s what you get during the season.”
“Rio’s really been swinging the bat well the last couple weeks,” Hyde said. “He’s really driving the ball, he’s starting to tap into his power a little bit and saw that again today. Done a nice job at third base. Really happy with his play, especially the second half.”
Jackson retired the next seven batters in a row, but he came out after Alberto singled to lead off the sixth and Ruiz walked. Ruiz was thrown out at the plate on pinch-hitter Pedro Severino’s single, but Jonathan Villar followed with a two-run single for a 6-2 lead.
The game was stopped before the bottom of the inning as the rain picked up in intensity. It let up just as the grounds crew unrolled the tarp, of course.
“I wanted to go back out and get through six, but it is what it is,” Wojciechowski said. “The rain started. It was raining pretty heavy. Went back out there, the mound was pretty wet. Nothing I could do there.”
Wojciechowski allowed six of the first nine batters to reach against him, but he allowed only two runs. The Tigers had seven hits through 2 1/3 innings. Still only two runs.
“First couple innings, a little frustrating,” Wojciechowski said. “A lot of hits fell, didn’t execute some pitches, but able to just limit the damage there and really hit my stride third, fourth and fifth inning before the rain came. I think that was a big part of the game.”
Jordy Mercer’s RBI double in the first gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. He moved to third on Christin Stewart’s single, but Wojciechowski stranded both runners.
Travis Demeritte led off the second with a double and scored on Grayson Greiner’s single for a 2-1 lead. Willi Castro followed with a single, but Wojciechowski retired the next three batters and was through the inning at 51 pitches.
The Orioles had tied the game in the second on singles by Smith, Ruiz and DJ Stewart, the latter a sharp ground ball past the mound for an RBI.
Evan Phillips struck out three batters in a scoreless sixth, allowing a single and walking a batter. Tanner Scott got a pair of called third strikes with his slider in the seventh. Dillon Tate struck out one in the eighth. Tayler Scott struck out two in the ninth and stranded a runner on third.
Four scoreless innings from a bullpen that allowed only one run last night in seven frames before the disastrous 12th.
“That’s really nice obviously and then the tack-on runs, too, to give us a little bit of a breather,” Hyde said. “Something we talked a lot about, it’s not one of our strong suits this year is when we get a lead to continue and extend them and give our bullpen a little bit of a cushion. And we did that tonight.”
Villar became the fourth Orioles player to steal 30 bases and score 100 runs in the same season. Brian Roberts did it three times, Brady Anderson twice and Al Bumbry once. Villar scored his 100th run on Santander’s homer and also swiped his 35th base.
The Orioles have followed a six-game losing streak by winning three of their last five. They can claim their first series Monday afternoon since taking two of three from the Royals on Aug. 19-21.
“It’s just big for us,” Wojciechowski said. “A loss like last night, to come back and get a win today is big for us. It’s a good team win. We tacked on runs. We pitched well. Happy with it.”
“It’s huge,” Ruiz said. “I think we’ve done that all year. We’ve done really well with bounceback games. We’ve been in a lot of tough ballgames, and sometimes, the other team’s just one hit better than us, and that was the thing last night. It’s huge for us to come back today and do what we did.”
“We talked about (resiliency) all year,” Hyde said. “We’ve had so many tough losses. Last night was definitely one of them and to be able to come out and continue to play with great energy and continue to play hard and compete, I think this says a lot about the character of our guys.”