Orioles manager Brandon Hyde posted his lineup this morning and wondered if it would remain intact. If anyone would be scratched or removed from the game before 4 p.m. If the relievers who walked together to the bullpen would board the same flight back to Baltimore.
The first major league start for Keegan Akin played out in the middle of the trade deadline frenzy.
At least Hyde knew the rookie wasn’t on the block.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias sent reliever Miguel Castro to the Mets for minor league pitcher Kevin Smith and a player to be named later or cash, but Akin also was dealing. He carried a two-hit shutout into the fifth inning against the Blue Jays, left with two runners in scoring position and watched Hanser Alberto sail a throw over Renato Núñez’s head with two outs.
Anthony Santander’s second double of the day scored Alberto with the tying run in the sixth. Mason Williams was thrown out at the plate in the 10th on Santander’s fly ball to right fielder Teoscar Hernández, but José Iglesias doubled off Anthony Bass in the 11th to score Santander and came home on Bryan Holaday’s double, and the Orioles avoided a four-games sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays in Buffalo.
The Orioles stopped their losing streak at five games and won for only the third time in 14. They’re 15-19 overall and 1-6 against Toronto.
They needed Iglesias at the plate and in the field to make it happen.
Dillon Tate threw 2 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings. César Valdez entered in the 10th, Joe Panik moved to third base on a ground ball, Hyde used Ryan Mountcastle as a fifth infielder, Cavan Biggio grounded out, Mountcastle moved back to left field and Randal Grichuk grounded out.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a two-out RBI single in the 11th and Rowdy Tellez followed with a fly ball that dropped in right field. Iglesias raced from his shortstop position to chase down Santander’s throw near the line and fired home, Gurriel was out at the plate and Valdez earned his first win since 2017.
Iglesias registered his fourth consecutive two-hit game since coming off the injured list. Holaday came off the bench to throw out a runner attempting to steal and deliver a big insurance run.
Holaday moved to first base in the 11th and wasn’t in position for the cutoff. Alberto left the game with a sore knee. Iglesias handled it.
“Incredible, instinctive, veteran kind of play,” Hyde said. “That’s a read play for the shortstop. We’ve got an inexperienced second baseman (Rio Ruiz) going out, and inexperienced first baseman going out for a double cut and Iggy recognized that we weren’t quite in the right spot and sprinted over there and made a heck of a catch, roll and throw to the plate. Just a great play by a really great defensive player.”
“It was just a great heads-up play,” Iglesias said. “I was able to read the throw and was in no-man’s land and I was just trying to get him out for the team in the end.”
Akin followed his two relief appearances by going 4 1/3 innings today without an earned run. He allowed three hits, walked two batters and struck out six.
The pitch count got him, and Hyde was watching it closely. Danny Jansen worked him for 11 pitches while drawing a walk in the fifth and Akin left after 81.
“When I got sent down, Hyder just said they weren’t going to throw me on back-to-back days, they weren’t going to do that to me with never coming out of the bullpen before,” Akin said. “I was totally understanding of it, and to get the ball back up and be told that I was starting was very exciting. Just glad to be back up here.
“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions right now, going from being a starter my whole career and then getting the call and being a relief guy with two appearances there. And getting to start again, I feel a little more comfortable obviously with doing that my whole career. So getting back on that routine and getting in the mix of things was good.”
Akin retired the side in order in the first inning on 10 pitches, mostly a 93-95 mph fastball, and threw 30 in the second while stranding two runners and needed only 10 to complete the third.
Hernández reached for a changeup in the fourth and poked the ball past first base for a one-out double, but Akin picked him off to end the inning after striking out Gurriel.
Akin didn’t waste much time between pitches, receiving the ball and peering in for the sign. He’s good for pace of play.
The tying run arrived in the sixth with about 10 minutes left before the trade window closed.
Hyde was the Cubs bench coach in 2014 when they sent utility player Emilio Bonifácio and pitcher James Russell to the Braves at the deadline for catching prospect Victor Caratini. In the middle of the game.
He knew that history could repeat itself today in Buffalo.
“I’m going in like nothing’s going to happen and if something happens I’ll be notified during the game,” Hyde said during his pregame Zoom conference call.
“That’s always unusual. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m going to play it like nothing’s going to happen until I get a phone call.”
The Blue Jays acquired former Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar in the third inning, but no one enticed Elias to part with Iglesias, who extended his hitting streak to eight games with a run-scoring single in the first inning.
Iglesias began the day batting .364 (12-for-33) with two strikes, the highest average in the majors. He lined Chase Anderson’s fastball into right field on a 2-2 count to score Santander, who doubled with one out.
The at-bat started with Iglesias 20-for-45 (.444) in 10 road games, 18-for-36 (.500) with runners on base to lead qualifying players in the majors and 8-for-18 (.444) with runners in scoring position. He padded those numbers again in the 11th.
Anderson struck out six batters in the first two innings, stranding Chance Sisco after a leadoff double in the second. He allowed one run and three hits with eight strikeouts in five innings.
The Blue Jays almost took the lead in the sixth as news broke of the Castro trade. Gurriel doubled with one out and stole third base despite the throw beating him to the bag by a substantial margin. Ruiz held out his glove, waited and didn’t tag the lead arm.
Daniel Vogelbach grounded to Alberto, who threw home for the out.
The Orioles stranded two in the seventh and ninth and were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position through regulation. Holaday cut down Derek Fisher attempting to steal second base to send the game into extra innings.
Now that the road trip is over, the Mets come to Baltimore for a two-game series with Castro in their bullpen. The Orioles have traded pitchers Hector Velázquez, Richard Bleier, Tommy Milone, Mychal Givens and Castro since July 29.
“I feel surprised by the move made by the Orioles,” Castro said via translator Ramón Alarcón. “I certainly wasn’t expecting it. At the same time, there’s only a few things I can control. Right now, I’m headed to wear a new jersey, a different jersey and I will just try to continue to do my job.
“It’s going to be exciting to face my teammates, but also at the same time, it’s going to be difficult. I’ve spent so much time with them, bonded with them, so it’s definitely something strange and weird, but looking forward to it and hopefully I can do a good job.
“I’ll miss my teammates, I’ll miss my coaches. I spent four great seasons here. I’ll miss everything about it. It’s going to be weird tomorrow for sure. I’m definitely going to miss everybody. I’ve been fortunate to have great teammates, great coaches and they showed love to me and I showed love back to them.”
Hyde was told before the game to stay away from using Castro and learned the trade was official during it. He’s now lost Castro and Mychal Givens in two days.
“That means guys are going to have to step up,” he said. “It’s the nature of the business right now. It’s deadline day. I found out during the game about Miggy and Miggy’s a huge loss for us. I’m a big Miguel Castro fan as a person as well. Love the guy. I feel like he’s been improving ever since I’ve seen him pitch. Put together a nice year this year. It was tough saying goodbye to him after the game.
“I hadn’t seen him at all until coming into the clubhouse after the game. He just thanked me for everything and gave a little social distance hug. See him tomorrow. He knows that I’m a big fan of his. I just loved seeing him every day, a smile on his face. Just a really great person. It was hard to say goodbye and he was emotional a little bit saying goodbye to me.”
The door keeps opening for their prospects. Akin showed today that he has no reason to go out the other way.
“Keegan was fantastic, he was excellent,” Hyde said. “I loved all the early strikes, I loved how aggressive he was with his fastball, really throwing the ball in a ton, really challenging their hitters. A lot of these guys are guys he had faced in the minor leagues and I think he had a pretty good feel for how to attack them and he did. Should have left with no runs allowed against a really good offensive club that’s playing really, really well.
“Loved the way he mixed speeds, good changeups, good breaking balls, but I loved the fastball aggressiveness on both sides of the plate, especially in.”
Asher Wojciechowski starts Tuesday night.