The Orioles do not expect Austin Voth to work deep into games this year. The bullpen knows it must step up when Voth gets the nod, and the unit answered in a big way tonight. Nick Vespi led the charge, and Baltimore used a big inning to clinch a 5-1 victory over the Rays.
The Orioles seized control during a four-run fifth. Ryan McKenna laced a leadoff single after originally attempting to bunt for a base hit. Cedric Mullins followed with a bunt single of his own, and Rutschman loaded the bases after taking a breaking ball off the shin.
Ryan Mountcastle delivered the knock the Birds needed with a base hit to right center field. McKenna scored with ease and Mullins launched home to beat an on-the-mark throw by Brett Phillips. With respect to Earl Weaver, the team speed looked impressive tonight.
Anthony Santander followed and nearly grounded into a double play. Ji-Man Choi made a sliding stop and attempted to throw to second but the ball deflected off Mountcastle and trickled into left field. The play yielded another run and placed runners at second and third.
Mountcastle indicated after the game that he intentionally ran on the inside portion of the basepath. The first baseman knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the play.
Austin Hays lined a sacrifice fly to left for Baltimore’s fifth run.
The bullpen took care of the rest.
Bryan Baker avoided trouble with a scoreless inning before Nick Vespi reintroduced himself. The Orioles recalled Vespi today after the lefty continued his dominance at Norfolk. Vespi had not pitched for Baltimore since July 5 but he looked anything but rusty.
Vespi struck out the first four batters he faced before allowing an infield single. The 26-year-old sat down Choi, Raley and Taylor Walls in the fifth and sent Josh Lowe down swinging to start the sixth. Dillon Tate eventually entered and struck out Phillips to end the inning.
Cionel Pérez danced around a Raley double to post 1.1 scoreless frames and Félix Bautista slammed the door shut with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Orioles gained an early lead after a momentum shift in the second. The Rays loaded the bases with a walk and two singles before Brent Phillips lined a ball up the middle. Voth knocked the ball down at the mound and fired home. Luke Raley slid hard and a touch late into Rutschman after the rookie secured the ball and began to turn toward first base.
Rutschman popped up immediately to quell any injury concerns, but Raley succeeded in preventing an inning-ending double play. Yandy Diaz stepped up with a golden RBI opportunity, but Voth got Diaz to line out and end the inning.
The Orioles answered with three consecutive singles in the bottom half. Rougned Odor provided Baltimore the lead with a sacrifice fly to the warning track, but the club failed to capitalize after that.
The Orioles gave the lead right back when Brandon Lowe tagged a solo homer, but Voth escaped another jam.
Jonathan Araúz left the game after attempting to stretch a hard hit ball into a double in the eighth. Araúz had not played since July 8, and it was unclear whether the potential wrist injury could be significant.
The win brought Baltimore back to .500 at 48-48 and clinched a second consecutive winning month. The game represented a true team win with six successful pitching performances and all nine batters reaching base.
Baltimore picked up a game on the Rays and will attempt to take another tomorrow with Spenser Watkins set to face Shane McClanahan.
Who was the most Birdland player on July 25?
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Nick Vespi (winning pitcher, four straight strikeouts in return)
Ryan Mountcastle (Go-ahead 2-RBI single, intelligent base running)
Cedric Mullins (bunt single, walk, electrifying slide into home plate)