For most teams, a matchup against a reigning Cy Young award winner isn’t usually their cup of tea. But for the Orioles, a rematch against Robbie Ray was exactly what the doctor ordered to wash away Tuesday’s ugly series opener.
The last time Ray pitched at Camden Yards, he got hit hard, got into a war of words with O’s manager Brandon Hyde, and implied that the Orioles were stealing signs. It’s safe to say there’s no love lost between the Orioles and Ray, even if he’s now wearing a Seattle uniform instead of Toronto.
Tonight, there was no such on-field drama. But Orioles hitters continued to have Ray’s number. In his five innings of work — tied for his shortest outing of the year — the O’s reached base nine times, plating four of them, en route to a 9-2 blowout. This doesn’t look like a team that needs to steal your signs, Robbie.
The first three of those runs came on one big swing by Rougned Odor, who launched a homer onto the flag court with two men aboard in the second inning. It was Odor’s first home run against a southpaw this season. No word on whether Ray found it “curious.”
For a while, it seemed like that 3-0 advantage would be more than enough for O’s starter Kyle Bradish, who blanked the Mariners for the first three innings, striking out four. In each frame, the M’s put a runner on base with two outs, but nothing became of them. Bradish’s control was a little spotty, but his slider had good movement, resulting in some foolish-looking swings from Seattle hitters.
J.P. Crawford’s leadoff homer in the fourth got the Mariners on the board, but Bradish got through the rest of the inning unscathed. He was on his way to qualifying for a win before a couple of bad pitches and some bad luck left him agonizingly short. Taylor Trammell began the fifth with a double, and while Bradish fanned the next two hitters, he couldn’t get the elusive third out. Ty France scorched a single that moved Trammell to third. Julio Rodriguez followed with a bouncer up the middle that Odor fielded cleanly but decided to flip to second base, where shortstop Jorge Mateo was a hair late in covering the bag. France slid in safely, Trammell scored from third, and — after an unsuccessful challenge — Hyde came out with the hook for Bradish with the lefty swinging Crawford due up.
Tough break for Bradish, who worked 4.2 innings and looked like he should have had the final out on that Rodriguez bouncer. He remains in search of his first victory at Camden Yards. Still, Hyde did what he needed to do help the Orioles win the game.
And did they ever win. After Cionel Perez bailed Bradish out of the fifth by inducing a Crawford popout, the Orioles offense began piling on the runs. In the fifth, Trey Mancini absolutely crushed Ray for a mammoth blast to left field that would have been long gone in 29 of 30 MLB ballparks...except, of course, that The Wall (alternate name: Mount Wall-timore) now exists. The ball banged off the very top of the now very high left-field fence. Mancini had to settle for a double on what was the furthest ball he has hit all season — the third time this year he’s been robbed of a home run by the new Camden Yards dimensions.
The wall cost Mancini a homer, but it didn’t cost the Orioles a run in this instance. Mancini came into score anyway on an Austin Hays RBI single, extending the O’s lead to 4-2. Ray was finished for the evening after that frame, giving up six hits and three walks.
An inning later, the Orioles piled it on against veteran reliever Sergio Romo, who is still pitching in the majors — now in his 15th year and seventh team — but tonight suffered perhaps the ugliest outing of his long career. Romo lobbed such hittable slop that both Ryan Mountcastle and Ramon Urias were able to clear the daunting left field wall with room to spare, going back-to-back with blistering blasts measured at 426 and 409 feet, respectively — as if to say, “Yes, Trey, it can be done.”
“Nuts to that,” replied Trey, at least in my imagination. “Why even test the wall when you can just clobber it to a shallower part of the park?” When Mancini got his turn against Romo, he thumped a long drive into the friendlier confines of the Orioles’ bullpen. Given Trey’s luck, I half-expected that Mount Wall-timore would somehow hoist itself out of the ground and meander a few steps toward center field so that it could cruelly block Mancini’s potential home run. That did not happen, and at long last, Mancini notched his first Camden Yards home run of 2022.
That made it a 9-2 game and all but iced the Orioles’ win. Perez, Felix Bautista, and Keegan Akin combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless relief to put this one to bed and lead the Birds back to the win column. The Birds’ four home runs tonight were their second-most in a game this season.
Good times, everyone. Let’s do it again tomorrow.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Wednesday, June 1?
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Trey Mancini (2-for-4, loooong double, first Camden Yards homer)
Ryan Mountcastle (reached base three times, 426-foot homer over The Wall)
Rougned Odor (three-run homer to start the dinger-fest)