BALTIMORE – The Orioles went from having a nearly perfect game against them… to winning again by elimination. He was another early symbol of how well things have been going in Baltimore lately.
“These kinds of wins, at the end of the season, add up,” said Frazier, who was dunked at Gatorade for the second time in three days after previously collecting an RBI Friday night. “That’s how you make the playoffs. A lot of good teams can win series, but sweeping a series is hard to do.”
It may seem a little early to talk about the postseason, especially when the Orioles have more challenging stretches ahead. Over the past two weeks, they’ve racked up wins against the A’s, White Sox, Nationals, and Tigers—four teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year and aren’t particularly strong on paper.
But Baltimore’s roster is full of confidence, which has moved on from its 83-win 2022 season. The O’s have only had two better starts in team history (since 1954)—in ’66 (16-5) and ’68 (15-6), the former leading to the franchise’s first World Series.
“I’ve said it since the first day of spring training—the talent here is incredible,” said catcher James McCann. “The chemistry from the guys who were together is so obvious from the moment you walk into the clubhouse, and now they’re learning how to win and win together.”
Together they triumphed—even on the day Baltimore’s first 20 batters were busted in order. That was Sunday’s feat for Detroit left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who has often been a thorn in the Orioles side since they traded him to the Red Sox in July 2014.
The only blemish on this trip for Rodriguez (who has a 1.56 ERA over his last 12 starts vs. Baltimore dating back to 2018) was a one-out-of-one in the seventh by Ryan Mountcastle, who finished off the Southpaw’s perfect game attempt. Rodriguez faced all 21 other batters.
However, the game was still scoreless after seven innings due to a stellar performance by the Orioles’ pitching staff. Grayson Rodriguez (club starter and #5 MLB Pipeline player) pitched his best game yet in his fourth big league start, hitting six on five scoreless innings.
Over the past five games, Baltimore’s two starters have allowed just one run in 31 innings (0.29 ERA).
“We have a lot of good pitchers at this club,” said Rodriguez. “I think some good things are just beginning for us, so it will be interesting to see how we do, as shooters, going forward.”
Several players came off the bench to fuel the Orioles victory. Anthony Santander’s two-run RBI double hit the game with two outs in the eighth, off Jorge Mateo, who scored from first. Teren Vavra pinch-hit to open the tenth and dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Frazier, who started the inning as an automatic runner on second, to third.
Then, Frazier, who entered the game as a pinch runner, drove home for the winning run when Tiger Mason Englert’s first ball to Mathieu, an 81.9 mph curveball, hit dirt and rolled to the left of home plate.
Much of the credit for Baltimore’s hot stretch, though, has to go to their pitching staff, who posted a 1.15 ERA during their six-game winning streak. Teams don’t lose many games in which they give up less than two runs, and the O’s have done so in each of their past five contests.
“The pitching process has begun, and the pitching is definitely contagious,” said left-hander Keegan Akin, who scored a scoreless 10th win. “It helps a lot when other people set the standards.”
Strong discussion of April Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde brought up last season. The Orioles were 7-14 at this point last year and still came close to finishing in the postseason, finishing three games shy of an American League wild card berth.
So Hyde realizes that a lot can change between now and October.
“I’m happy with our start, I think we played fairly well; [I] “I would like us to improve throughout the year, as we did last year,” Hyde said. “For me, that’s what really good teams do.”
The O’s believe strongly that they are a really good team this season. More wins like Sunday would continue to prove it.
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