The first time his name was chanted, the elated crowd of nearly 28,000 packing Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time since April, disappointment was felt with a groan and the thud of a bat.
But with two outs in the ninth, as the fans got to their feet and the pressure mounted on them, catcher Adley Rutschman came to the plate and didn’t flinch. He didn’t look like a 24-year-old rookie in front of the biggest crowd he’s ever played for in Baltimore. The lofty fastball, the sixth pitch of the plate appearance, jumped off his bat and opened up the right-center gap for a run-scoring double, giving the Orioles — and their fans — a breath of life.
Cedric Mullins took a breath and converted it into the game-tying single, sending Rutschman home from second. And that breath turned into a triumphant one when Trey Mancini sent a drive over the left fielder’s head to secure a 5-4 victory.
Mancini went around first, getting his helmet dug in and getting hugs and the kind of noise that hasn’t been heard at Camden Yards all season, or in years, for that matter. Until their last out, the Orioles had four straight hits, starting with Rougned Odor and continuing with Rutschman, Mullins and Mancini.
The craziness of it all gave Baltimore a season-high six-game winning streak, moving them closer to an AL wild-card spot than anyone inside or outside the organization had targeted this season.
“I think it’s kind of a testament to how we’ve been playing lately,” right-hander Tyler Wells said. “I think that shows how we are as a team.”
Added manager Brandon Hyde: “We had a never die attitude on the bench, and the guys were into it, and it’s fun to see these guys come through.”
There were missed opportunities before, with left-hander Reid Detmers holding the order on two hits with seven strikeouts in his six innings. But once the Angels’ bullpen got involved, the cracks began to show.
The first race came in the seventh, although three Orioles struck out to end that frame with a runner on third base. Baltimore then pulled within a run in the eighth inning, when Mullins led off with a double, moved to third on Mancini’s fly ball and scored on first baseman Ryan Mountcastle’s single.
That deficit grew again once Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani hit a solo home run in the ninth. But it ended no matter, with another win back on the books that kept the crowd cheering long after the final out.
It was the Orioles’ eighth win of the season, and the third in five days, second only to the New York Yankees’ 10. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Orioles (41-44) are the fourth team in the past 20 seasons to win three straight games in which they were trailing entering the ninth inning or later.
“It was very exciting,” Mancini said. “One of the best wins I’ve been a part of in my time here.”
The stars go yard
A day earlier, Mike Trout was the latest victim of the new dimensions of left field inside Camden Yards. He had thrown a line drive to that gargantuan fence, but Austin Hays tracked the ball for an out when it might have been a home run in previous years.
But Trout’s reputation against the Orioles precedes him. That new wall wasn’t going to stop him for long.
And in the third inning on Friday, the Angels outfielder sped a hanging slider from right-hander Tyler Wells up and over the foul pole in left, though the three-run blast would have cleared most of Walltimore.
Trout has made a habit of this. In his 63 career games against Baltimore, Trout has thrown 23 home runs, one in 36.5% of his games, the highest rate against any foe he has faced nine times or more.
Other than that explosion, though, Wells wasn’t in much danger. It wasn’t the sharpest outing for him, as he lasted four innings, his shortest start in more than a month, having allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
The Angels’ offense didn’t do much against the bullpen until Ohtani hit a two-out solo shot in the ninth off right-hander Dillon Tate to extend the Angels’ lead to two runs once again. But that wasn’t enough, not with another two-out rally in the ninth.
a great raffle
Maybe it was the gift of the floppy hat. Perhaps it was the Orioles’ five-game winning streak, the longest since 2020. In all likelihood, it was a combination of the two.
Fans flocked to Camden Yards on Friday, with an announced attendance of 27,814, the most since April 16 against the Yankees and the fourth-largest crowd this season. After drawing crowds of fewer than 8,000 fans for the last two wins against the Texas Rangers, a prized gift, a star-studded opponent and a more competitive baseball club brought Camden Yards to life.
“There was a great energy,” Mancini said. “Fans brought it in all night and we fed off of it, especially late. It was an incredible comeback for us.”
In the fifth inning, as fans around the stadium waved, there were no gaps between sections. In the lower bowl, the sea of orange floppy hats helped push the Orioles forward in the seventh inning and beyond.
“We need more floppy hat nights,” Hyde said. “That was an amazing, amazing crowd.”
When informed that a Hawaiian shirt was being given away on Saturday, Hyde agreed: “Let’s do it again.”
around the horn
>> Right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez underwent a routine MRI on his right rectus dorsi muscle and the results were clean, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told The Baltimore Sun. The result of the standard check MRI is encouraging for Rodriguez, who suffered the lat strain in June. The timeline for his return, however, is still unclear, as the Orioles aren’t likely to rush the best pitching prospect in baseball back to the mound. Rodríguez remains in Florida to rehab from the injury. At the time of the injury, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Rodriguez may not appear again this season in the minor or major leagues.
>> Right-hander Kyle Bradish will pitch the first of two or three rehab starts with Double-A Bowie on Saturday, manager Brandon Hyde said. Bradish has been on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder. Hyde said Bradish will pitch three or four innings for the Baysox, part of a buildup that will likely keep him out until after the All-Star break.
Saturday, 4:05 p.m.
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