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Orioles minor league recap 9/23: Rodriguez stumbles in season’s final start

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The Bowie Baysox go down 2-0 in the Championship Series following an uncharacteristically poor outing from the organization’s top pitching prospect.

Syndication: Salisbury Staff Photo by Richard Pollitt via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Triple-A: Norfolk Tides vs. Charlotte Knights (White Sox) - PPD/Rain

Poor weather washed away this one, but they will make it up right away with a doubleheader on Thursday evening.

Double-A: Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 8, Bowie Baysox 5

Game 2 of this Championship Series was a slight improvement from Game 1, but the result was the same. Bowie lost both and now find themselves one loss away from a tough end to what has been an otherwise brilliant season.

Grayson Rodriguez had one of his worst starts of the season at an inopportune time. He lasted just 2.2 innings and served up six runs (five earned) on six hits, a walk, and four strikeouts.

The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli watched the game live. He reported that Rodriguez sat 94-95 with his fastball, and simply did not have his best stuff. It’s a bummer, but something that happens sometimes.

The scoring started early for the RubberDucks as the lead-off hitter, Will Brennan (Cleveland’s #29 prospect, per Pipeline) doubled on the third pitch of the game. A wild pitch from GrayRod moved Brennan to third, and a sacrifice fly scored him. That advantage was added to later in the inning when Jose Fermin walked and then scored on a George Valera (#2) double.

Gunnar Henderson trimmed the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning when he smacked his first home run of the series, a solo shot to, where else, left-center field.

But it all went wrong in the third inning for Rodriguez as he gave up four more runs on three singles and a double, and he would fail to survive the inning, being replaced by David Lebron.

Lebron did a fantastic job out of the bullpen. The righty diced up the Akron lineup for 4.1 innings, striking out six in the process. His only trouble came in the seventh inning, when he got a little wild, walking a batter and then uncorking a wild pitch to get them into scoring position. A double from Bryan Lavastida (#13) drove home the runner to make it 7-1 at the time.

Bowie’s offense did put up a fight. They scored two in the bottom of the seventh. First, a Shayne Fontana double drove in Greg Cullen, who had walked. Then the Akron shortstop made a throwing error on a Jordan Westburg grounder to bring home Fontana.

But the RubberDucks kept them at arm’s length, adding an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Steve Klimek struggled to miss bats. He gave up back-to-back singles and then a sacrifice fly, making it 8-3.

The Baysox threatened to make a full comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning. Henderson reached on an error, Chris Hudgins singled, and Cullen doubled to bring them both home. Something was brewing. But a groundout from Fontana and then a pitching change squashed the comeback attempt.

If you are so inclined, the full box score is available here.

A poor start from Rodriguez basically doomed Bowie from the beginning. It’s unfortunate. It doesn’t make the righty’s season any less impressive, though. This very well could (should?) have been his final start at Double-A. He has every reason to start 2022 in Norfolk with a promotion to Baltimore sure to follow at some point.

The Baysox’s season is not over year. This is a best-of-five series. They now travel to Akron to take on the RubberDucks in their home stadium on Friday night. First pitch is slated for 6:05, and southpaw Drew Rom will be on the mound for the good guys.

Thursday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk: at Charlotte, 5:35. Starter: TBD - Game 1
  • Norfolk: at Charlotte, TBD, Starter: TBD - Game 2