As lightning flashed and thunder struck, there was a crack of bat added to the mix—an equally resonant sound before the skies over Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened and began pelting stones on the field with rain.
All this chance of coincidence – with a runner in the scoring position raining on cue after a rare hit – reinforced the adage that anything can happen in the ballpark. For the Orioles’ series finale with the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, which took the form of a two-out, two-run single from Austin Hays to tie the game at 6 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Ryan McKenna and Chris Owings cross the plate. Hayes scored the first goal. Then the sound of another crack from above instead of the batsman’s box swung the players toward the dugout and tarps in tow, tugging at the ground on the ground.
And after 51 minutes, play resumed and immediately progressed to extra innings, where the Orioles won 7–6 through the choice of a fielder from Rogad Odor, who scored from third to Adelie Ratschmann. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is Baltimore’s third walk-off win in the past four days—the first time the Orioles have had such a stretch since 1974.
It was part of a most unusual Sunday in the park, featuring a first-innings injury to pitcher Spencer Watkins, which forced Baltimore into an unexpected – and very undesirable – bullpen game. And it amounted to a series win for the Orioles, taking two games to three with a 15-game losing streak at Tampa Bay after entering the series. This is the Orioles (17-25) first series win against the Rays since they sweep in sets of three games from July 31 to August 2, 2020.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games to these guys over the years, and for a lot of us young guys who are just starting to get some more time, we’re just going to keep fighting,” Hayes said. “We don’t want to lose those games anymore.”
In 10th, Reutschmann himself appeared ready to end the game. But his deep fly ball to right field warning died on the track. To start 11th, he finished second as an automatic runner and finished third via Owings’ bunt, which smelled off the plate.
Smells have a penchant for dramatic. His walk-off, a two-run home run on Friday, ended a 13-innings affair in style. Sunday’s knock came short and it took a defensive miscue to do so, slipping under G-Man Choi’s glove as he charged from first base. However, they all count the same, resulting in a win.
Ramon Uriyas and Odor scored in the third inning, and Ryan Mountcastle launched a single homer into the home bullpen just beyond left-center field. Two errors from Rays fielders helped relegate Plate One in the seventh.
Then came the ninth, when Mountcastle led with a single and Uriyas soon followed with a walk. The pinch was held for both, and Hayes soon set both up for the likes of a game-winning fielder with his knock.
“We don’t leave,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Just proud of our effort. All our players played till the end.”
Watkins. an early departure for
The manner in which Joy Krehbeil entered the game nearly four hours earlier at the top of the first innings was emblematic of the hasty nature – and extreme conditions – that forced a change in first-innings pitching. The right-hander grabbed his glove and a Red Bull, slipped one onto his hand and brought the other to his lips as he made his way down the field.
It was just about the worst-case scenario for the Orioles on Sunday, the day before a road trip consisting of eight games over eight days against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The deeper the right-handed Watkins can work, the better.
Instead, the line drive from Ji-Man Choi’s bat sped to 105.9 mph and hit Watkins’ forefoot, sending the pitcher for a brief walk around the mound, before he was further into the dugout. Went down the stairs to the training room. Initial X-rays were negative, the Orioles announced, and Watkins said he was “in pain right now”, but it was “too early to tell” whether he will be sidelined for long.
But short-term implications left Baltimore’s bullpen in charge of recording 27 outs – and then six more in extra innings – and Tampa Bay held on to a four-run advantage until Baltimore was out in the first innings.
“I really didn’t know what we were going to do,” Hyde said.
The first three batsmen each singled Watkins, and after Krehbiel recorded two outs, Isaac Paredes blew a three-run homer. Krehbeel completed three career-high innings, however, allowing just one more hit after the first inning. Those innings, while unexpected, helped cover for a bullpen that still required five extra weapons to close the game – giving up just two extra runs.
Left-hander Seonel Perez, in particular, trapped five base runners in two scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th. When he was surrounded by the mound, Reutschmann was the first to greet him, full of enthusiasm.
“They absolutely sucked at it,” Hyde said. “Pitching won us the game in a position where it could get ugly, and they did a great job of letting us just hang around.”
around the horn
- Mountcastle went into the ninth inning due to heat-related body cramps, the Orioles announced. Hyde said Mountcastle said there would be no further absence from the convulsion.
- Kyle Stowers scored three home runs for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, finishing 3-for-5 with five RBIs. The three blows brought their season total to nine, putting them alongside Kobe Mayo for the most in the organization.
- Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, baseball’s top pitching prospect, may be in line for a major league debut soon after Watkins’ injury – and a rather exceptional performance of his own. Rodriguez completed six innings for the first time this season, throwing 86 pitches and dismissing nine batsmen, while conceding two runs on four hits for Triple-A Norfolk.
Orioles @ Yankees
Monday, 7:05 pm
radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM