The day after the 2nd Orioles’ top potential player Adley Ratschmann made his major league debut, right-hander Spencer Watkins took a line drive forward. It gave him a unique perspective of seeing Baltimore’s change.
Watkins spent the next 15 days on the injured list, walking around the team and watching the game as a spectator. Once a healthy Triple-A Norfolk substitute, he chased away. Officially back in the Major on Saturday, he contributed to turning the tide for the Orioles, restricting the Chicago White Sox to an unearned run in five innings in Baltimore’s fourth straight win.
“Always this team spirit can really come together and turn into something special,” Watkins said. “Once the Ratsch was added to everything else, it brought with us another energy aspect that really helped fuel everything. And you see it from the outside. When I was down there [in Triple-A]I was able to watch the game and see how much fun everyone had.
“This thing is really coming together, and it’s a really fun thing to be a part of.”
Two days before Reutsman was promoted, the Orioles were 14–24. They are 20-15, their best 35-game stretch in five years. They set a record of 13-9, beating opponents by almost 20 runs in June.
Under manager Brandon Hyde’s four-season stint, the Orioles (34–39) never had a winning month. A win would be the first of their next four matches.
“We come to the field every day, and we think we’re a really good team,” said Oriol’s longest-serving teammate Tre Mancini. “We don’t think about rebuilding or what the expectations were for us before the year. We come to the ballpark and we expect to play well and expect to win. That’s just our mindset.”
A remade bullpen has been crucial to the Orioles’ improvement, pitching well even during the club’s slow start. Through 73 games last year, the Baltimore Relievers scored 4.74 . posted Era. That mark reduced to 3.07. It is done This season is entering the series finale on Sunday in Chicago.
“The vibes are just too much,” said reliever Brian Baker.
During Hyde’s tenure, the Orioles have seen the lead evaporate more often than the rest of the league. But after suffering 10 losses in those conditions in both 2019 and 2021, they lead 24-0 this season, taking the lead after six innings.
It’s a largely different bullpen full of self-described “misfits” driving that success, with Dylan Tate being the only member of the current group to have made more than eight relief performances. Baltimore for last season.
Jorge López, Sionel Pérez, Joey Krehbiel and Baker all came to the Orioles as exemption claims from the other teams. It took a decade to reach the majors after Felix Bautista signed his first professional contract. Nick Vespi was an 18th-round draft pick seven years ago. Keegan Akin struggled as a starter in his rookie season but became one of the top long relievers in baseball. Lopez, Perez, Bautista and Tate entered the top 20 in the ERA on Saturday, having made at least 25 appearances this season.
“When you pitch, your team gains confidence,” Hyde said. “You feel like you can finish the game, and it’s a good feeling in the dugout.”
It has been taken to the crime. The Orioles struggled heavily in scoring positions with the Runners in the early weeks of the season, entering June with a .207 batting average in conditions that ranked 29th out of 30 teams. They are batting .298 this month with the runners on second, third or both, which is third among the majors entering Saturday.
The Orioles are within five games of the .500 record in this section. In the last three full seasons, they were at least 27 games away from the balanced record at this point of the year.
Mancini made his debut late in the 2016 season, when the Orioles scored the American League wild-card game. He had a strong 2017 rookie year for the club, playing around .500 for most of the season before collapsing late, foreshadowing a disastrous 2018 campaign that prompted teardowns and rebuilding.
The Orioles still hold the losing record. They are still ranked last in the American League East, although they will be at least fourth in every other division. In the sense that it shows which direction they are headed, Mancini believes it is important to play closer to .500.
“I’m like, how the last few years have gone by for us,” Mancini said. “It’s been a while since we’ve actually been close to .500, not that it’s the end goal by any means, but it’s definitely good to be there. But then again, there’s nothing about it.” I’m thinking. We’re still a few games under, and then we’re going to go out there tomorrow and try to win another game and don’t really think about anything beyond that.”