Much like Mordor, one does not simply go into Tampa Bay and win baseball games. Clearly, though, no one told Adley Rutschman that.
Down 3-2 with the rest of the team showing little signs of life, the rookie sensation came off the bench in the 8th and sparked a turnaround that saw the Orioles earn their first win in Tampa since July 2021.
Facing Rays’ flamethrower Jason Adam, Rutschman launched a 2-0 fastball toward right field. Almost like a metaphor for the entire Orioles season, the towering fly looked like it might stay in the yard, but it just kept going and going—sailing into the right field stands and tying the game.
Adley Clutchman getting to work pic.twitter.com/EDrLdSguYW— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 16, 2022
Rutschman would add to his heroics later in the tenth, hitting a sacrifice fly that temporarily gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead. However, the injustice of the Manfred Man reared its head in the bottom of the 10th, so the O's had to go to the 11th tied at 5.
Things started off uneasily in the second extra frame, as designated Manfred Man Rougned Odor got caught stealing at third after a missed bunt attempt by Jorge Mateo. The speedy shortstop immediately erased all concerns though, belting a ball into deep center for a triple. After a Cedric Mullins walk and subsequent stolen base, Ryan Mountcastle plated the winning runs with a bloop single into rightfield. Cionel Perez and Joey Krehbiel worked a (mostly) clean bottom of the 11th to secure the win.
This game kicked off with Dean Kremer getting the start for the Orioles. Kremer was looking to repeat the five innings of shut-out ball he threw against the Rays in Baltimore. All year, the O’s righty has relied primarily on his fastball and cutter, and improved command of both saw him come into the game with a 2.15 ERA. Saturday though, the fastball command didn’t seem as sharp and it was really only the cutter where the right-hander found success. Of the 12 outs Kremer recorded, 11 came from the cutter—including two double plays and both of his strikeouts.
The fastball and the changeup were more hit or miss, a lot of times literally. Against a patient Rays team though, this often led to long at-bats and struggling to put guys away. As for Kremer’s curveball, let’s just say the Orioles would’ve been better off if their starter had forgotten he threw a curve.
An unfortunate sequence in the 3rd inning seemed to encapsulate all the things that were not going the Orioles and Kremer’s way early on. With the game tied 1-1, Brandon Lowe led off the inning on a single to left that Anthony Santander looked like he had a bead on—only for it to squirt out of his glove. Then, after getting to Harold Ramirez to swing through a curveball Kremer tried to double up on the curveball, but completely missed the zone and hit Ramirez. Never fear though, the trusty cutter looked to get Kremer out of trouble, inducing a double play that left the O’s with two outs and a man on third.
Then disaster struck. A cutter low and away to Randy Arozarena skipped past Robinson Chirinos and allowed Lowe to come in from third. Then, on the very next pitch, Kremer hung a curveball and the reigning AL Rookie of the Year deposited it into the left field seats.
This roller coaster nature seemed to plague Kremer throughout his four innings. He struck out Ji-Man Choi with runners at first and third in the first—only to have a run score on a wild pitch the next batter. He would give up rockets—Rays had eight hard-hit balls—only to roll a double play the next batter. The stat line was neither impressive nor horrendous, but it never felt like Kremer was putting the O's in a position to win.
Before Adley’s dramatic entrance in the eighth, the offense had largely struggled to put together consistent threats. In a game that is not dominated primarily by velocity, soft-throwing starter Ryan Yarbrough seemed to completely throw off the O's timing. His low 80’s cutter, high 80s sinkers coming from odd arm angles, frisbee sliders in the low 70s—-all of it seemed to keep the Orioles’ hitters perpetually off-balance.
Outside of Rutschman and Mateo (who also had a single), the only Oriole seemingly enjoying his time in the Orange Juice Dome is Ramon Urias. Coming off his two-home-run night on Friday, Urias perfectly split the left and center fielders for a double in the second—driving in the O’s first run. Urias would double again off Yarbrough in the fifth, later scoring on a Tyler Nevin single.
Credit is due to the bullpen as well. Austin Voth, Keegan Akin, Dillon Tate, Jorge Lopez, Perez and Krehbiel gave the O's a valiant effort that kept the game constantly in striking distance. Over seven relief innings, the six held the Rays to two hits and struck out six. The only run they allowed (charged against Lopez) came after the Manfred Man was bunted over and then Choi poked a single up the middle with the infield in. As they have been all season, the relievers were the glue that held this team together and made the offense’s heroics possible.
We have said it before and will say it again: this team never says die. That is absolutely the biggest difference from the ballclub that has been the worst in baseball over the last three seasons and the one that we have the joy of watching every day in 2022. Adley may be supplying a lot of the highlights, but the “never say die” attitude is embodied by everyone who steps into the box, or onto the mound, for this year’s Orioles.
Tomorrow the O's play for their first winning first half in six years. So let’s celebrate tonight, rest up and come back tomorrow ready to send the Orioles into the All-Star break with a new winning streak.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 16, 2022
This poll is closed
Adley Rutschman (Game-tying HR, 2 RBIs)
Ryan Mountcastle (game-winning, 2 RBI single)
Jorge Mateo (single, triple, run scored)
The Bullpen (7.0 innings, 2 hits allowed, 6 Ks)