Backups lead way to finish off sweep
O’s improve to season’s best three games over .500, remain in thick of AL wild-card race
ARLINGTON, Texas — Hours before beginning their series with the Texas Rangers, the Orioles faced the demoralizing reality that they would not remain intact through the trade deadline. By its end, they could fully embrace they still have the potential to hunt a playoff berth in the season’s final months.
Having traded away the longtime face of the team Trey Mancini and All-Star closer Jorge López before Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Orioles who remained completed a sweep of the Rangers on Wednesday with a 6-3 victory.
The Orioles (54-51) are a season-high three games over .500, with the victory keeping them within 1 games of the American League’s third and final wild-card spot. Having also won all three games in a home series against Texas, Baltimore swept a season series of more than three games for the first time since going 6-0 against the Los Angeles Angels in 2010.
“I think our guys did a great job of understanding what’s still ahead of us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re gonna miss those guys, no doubt. Those are friends and great teammates and they’re hard to replace. But also we still have a season to play, and our guys are playing to win.”
Most of their offense came from unexpected sources. Ryan McKenna, in the lineup as regular corner outfielder Austin Hays deals with a sore side, doubled his home run total for the season with a solo shot in the second, tying the game after Texas scored its lone run in the first of rookie starter Kyle Bradish’s five innings.
Backup catcher Robinson Chirinos, a former Ranger getting a start with Adley Rutschman at designated hitter, homered deep to left in the top of the seventh, his first long ball since May 28. Former Orioles minor leaguer Jonah Heim tied the game in the bottom of the frame with a home run off former Rangers minor leaguer Dillon Tate.
Jorge Mateo, who had his first career multihomer game in an 8-2 win Tuesday, walked and stole his league-leading 26th base with two outs in the eighth. Having reached four times Tuesday, rookie Terrin Vavra drove in his first career run with a go-ahead pinch-hit double, and one batter later Chirinos delivered his third hit in four at-bats, matching his total from his previous
30, to extend the lead to 4-2.
“Our bats the last three innings were absolutely outstanding,” Hyde said. “Mateo walk won us the game. Can’t hammer that enough home with our guys, being able to move, keep the line moving, and Jorgie did that.”
In the top of the ninth, Rutschman walked and scored on a double from Anthony Santander, who later came around to score on a wild pitch. Marcus Semien went deep off Félix Bautista, the Orioles’ new closer, in the ninth, but Baltimore still outscored Texas 21-7 in the series.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Chirinos said. “We know we play in a tough division. I think everybody knows now in this clubhouse, we’re good. We can compete and we can play against the best teams out there.”
Bradish dodges damage
Making his second start off the injured list, Bradish allowed one run on three hits and three walks, striking out five. The bottom of the fifth was his only clean inning, striking out two, as he threw 93 pitches overall.
Bradish allowed a run on a hit batsman and two walks in the first and walked the bases loaded in the second. But he allowed only one hit and worked around an error in his final three frames.
“He definitely was scuffling early,” Hyde said. “First inning was a struggle. The second inning was a struggle. We got fortunate getting out of there with only giving up one run there early because the command was not there. Really happy to see him settle in and be able to go five innings. He was an at-bat or two away a couple times of me getting somebody up during the first couple innings, and for him to be able to find it a little bit and find a better rhythm in his delivery
and find his command, that was huge for us.”
Bradish has allowed three runs in 10 innings since returning from the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.
“It was a good learning experience,” Bradish said. “Worked through a lot of traffic. Previous outings, runners were on base and they were scoring, it seemed like, so I was able to minimize damage today, make big pitches when I needed to.”
Around the horn
Just as he did with the Orioles, Mancini homered for his first hit with the Houston
Astros. The ball, hit to left field at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, would not have been out at Camden Yards.
López threw a seven-pitch ninth inning to earn a save in his first appearance with the Minnesota Twins.
Orioles draftees Jud Fabian, Adam Crampton and Adam Retzbach made their professional debuts Wednesday in the Florida Complex League. Dylan Beavers, Silas Ardoin and undrafted free agent Max Costes (Maryland) will debut Thursday. The Orioles have not yet determined when first overall pick Jackson Holliday will appear in an FCL game, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said.