A rain-shortened 7-0 win for the Orioles provided more than enough time for Austin Hays to put on a historic performance in support of another solid Tyler Wells start on Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
Hays was the unquestioned star of the night. From the first inning on, nothing could cool off the Orioles outfielder, not even an unrelenting rainstorm. If the cries to make him the team’s representative at the Midsummer Classic weren’t loud enough already, they hit a crescendo tonight.
The first part of the Hays highlight reel actually came on defense. Starting in center field, Hays had his arm tested by Juan Soto in the opening frame. On a Josh Bell single into shallow center, Soto attempted to go from first to third, but Hays was having none of that. He gathered the base knock and fired a strike to Tyler Nevin covering to nab the greedy Soto.
Hays opened up the bottom of the first with an infield single. He moved to second base on a Trey Mancini flare, and then came around to score on a Ryan Mountcastle double off the out-of-town scoreboard. in just one inning, Hays had potentially saved a run and accounted for another. Not a bad start.
In the bottom of the third inning, Hays once again served as the offensive spark-plug. He led off with a solo home run to double the Orioles’ advantage. But he wouldn’t hang onto the home run chain long as Anthony Santander followed up with a one-run dong of his own.
Just another visit to The Great Wall of Baltimore pic.twitter.com/8rWGGFsJ1t— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 23, 2022
Hays registered his third hit of the game in the fourth inning. With two outs, he lofted a fly ball to deep right field. Soto made an ill-fated leap for the drive, but it was too high. It bounced off the wall and rolled through the outfield grass while Hays made his way around to third base for his first triple of the season. He was now just a double short of the cycle.
The rain came in the middle of the fifth inning, and the two sides settled into a 40-ish minute delay.
Once play resumed, Hays picked up right where he left off. In the sixth inning, with Nevin (single) and Jorge Mateo (walk) on base ahead of him, he smoked a line drive into left-center field, out of reach of Nationals center fielder Lane Thomas. It rolled to the wall. Nevin and Mateo scored. And Hays glided into second base with a two-base hit, the finishing touch to his all-time night.
FOR THE CYCLE— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 23, 2022
Hays is the sixth player in franchise history to hit for the cycle! pic.twitter.com/lYZewPPGFM
Hays is the sixth player in Orioles history to hit for the cycle, and the first since Jonathan Villar did so in 2019. It is a fun feather to have in his cap as part of what continues to be a really fun season for Hays.
The man of the night scored once more. Later in that same inning, he was driven in on a Mancini home run to left field, extending the leading to 7-0.
The tarp came back onto the field at that point, and this time it stayed there. The game was delayed for about an hour as the grounds crew monitored storms in the area, but Mother Nature wasn’t giving it up. After six innings, the game was called, earning the Orioles a series split with the visiting Nationals.
If you mosey on over to the box score, you will notice names besides Austin Hays. He was at the center of everything good happening for the Orioles on this day, but he was far from the only one that had themselves a productive game.
Tyler Wells continued his ascent as a starter, although he did it a slightly different way. The tall righty tossed five scoreless frames, allowing just three hits and striking out four, but he also walked four. He had yet to walk more than two in a single outing this season. It was one of the things that made his so effective, but it is still encouraging to see him work around less than stellar command and still put forth a win-worthy effort on the mound.
In the end, those walks didn’t really come back to bite him apart from elevating his pitch count and slowing the pace of the game slightly. He ended up with 95 pitches, a season high, which feels like an important milestone in its own right.
Nick Vespi delivered yet another scoreless inning of relief behind him. His season ERA is down to 0.87 as he continues to solidify his role in Brandon Hyde’s bullpen. The unexpected end to the game earned Vespi his first big league save.
In the lineup, each of the first six batters had at least one hit. In addition to Hays’ big day, Mancini and Santander both had multi-hit nights, and there were doubles for both Mountcastle and Rutschman. In general, it was a far cry from the series opener in which the lineup was held scoreless.
The O’s now head out on the road to wrap up the month of June. Their first stop is Chicago, where they have a four-game set against the White Sox, a team that has been shockingly mediocre this year. Dean Kremer (1-1, 2.35 ERA) heads to the mound for a matchup against Johnny Cueto (1-3, 2.95 ERA). First pitch is 8:10 from the south side.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for June 22, 2022?
This poll is closed
Austin Hays (duh?)
Tyler Wells (W, 5 shutout innings)