It was stunning, surprising, unexpected. All of that and maybe more. The Orioles scored three runs over four games at Yankee Stadium and then they scored nine in the last of the third last night. And it was against the first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Orioles won via a 14-1 blowout, producing more runs than they have in any game this year, and their biggest margin of victory. They had 16 hits in four games over the weekend and 15 last night. They hit two home runs in the entire series in New York and hit three in one inning last night, the third.
The three home runs in that one inning exceeded the Orioles’ total for a whole game on 35 occasions in the 2020 season. In leading 13-0 after five innings, the Orioles saw the top four in their order drive in all 13 runs. The foursome of Cedric Mullins, José Iglesias, DJ Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle went 11-for-15 with three homers and 13 RBIs. In the first five innings of the game.
That is crazy and wild and unexpected.
And three of those four players are O’s homegrown players, and there were five among the nine in the starting lineup last night when you add in Chance Sisco and Austin Hays. Mullins, Stewart and Mountcastle are all from the 2015 O’s draft class.
It’s pretty clear that Dan Duquette and Gary Rajsich had some good drafts while here. It is also clear that the new regime with Mike Elias and his staff took the talent they inherited and made it better.
That is exciting and must be encouraging not only to Orioles fans, but O’s minor league players as well. Even the most confident minor league player probably has at least a small level of doubt about his ability to consistently play well at the major league level. But now all those minor leaguers are seeing friends and teammates succeed and seeing that the organization must be doing something right in player development.
Maybe the Yankees scouted the Orioles exceptionally well and/or their pitchers just did a great job executing over the weekend. But we do know this - in the eight games before the Orioles played at Yankee Stadium they scored nine, four, five, six, six, five, 11 and six runs. That is an average of 6.5 per game over those eight games. In fact, they scored 22 runs in four games in Baltimore against the Yankees. But with a chance to do themselves some real good in the playoff chase, they came up well short. They hit right before that series in New York and they certainly hit right after it, with 14 runs last night.
On the mound, right-hander Jorge López is running with what is essentially an audition for a 2021 rotation spot. He probably can’t win a job this month, but he can sure put his name more firmly in the picture for next year. He is now 2-0 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts for the Orioles.
He allowed just one run over seven innings on 93 pitches. He was mostly a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a two-seam fastball and knuckle curve a combined 77 times, or on 83 percent of his pitches. He didn’t get a lot of swing-and-miss - just six whiffs on 40 swings by the Braves - but he sure was effective. And it was against a team averaging 5.94 runs per game and leading the majors in team slugging (.488) and OPS (.834). The Braves bats figure to be heard from before this series is over.
But López threw a strong game, and it was the longest outing by an O’s starter in 2020. Over the past three games, López, Dean Kremer and John Means have yielded three runs over 18 innings. Suddenly, O’s starters are getting deeper in games. They have just seven outings of six or more innings on the season, but four of them have come over the past eight games.
It was an impressive night of pitching, hitting and defense too. A lopsided win against a first-place team. A great way to start the final homestand of the 2020 season.