The Orioles, going for their first three-game sweep of the season, tallied just four hits tonight against the Rangers. Two of the four knocks failed to leave the infield and all four were singles. Ryan McKenna recorded the team’s only RBI from the eighth spot in the lineup, and Baltimore left five runners on base.
Incidentally, they won the game.
Baltimore rode a gem from Spenser Watkins, strong relief from Bryan Baker and Cionel Pérez, and a bounce-back performance by Jorge López to clinch a sweep and a 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Camden Yards.
The Orioles scored their only two runs after Adley Rutschman and Ramón Urías worked walks in the second inning. The pair advanced on a wild pitch before Ryan McKenna dribbled a ball to short. Corey Seager should have put the ball in his pocket with McKenna running, but he sailed an errant throw instead. Both runners came around to score, and McKenna received credit for an infield single and Baltimore’s only RBI.
The pitching staff did the rest.
The Orioles needed a deep start from Watkins after sending five relievers to the mound Tuesday night. Watkins, carrying some momentum after a quality start his last time out, answered the call like he never had before.
Watkins held the Rangers to just four hits and one run in a career-high 6 2-3 innings. The 29-year-old struck out three, walked one, and threw 64 of 81 pitches for strikes.
Watkins pitched aggressively all evening. He retired the first three batters on ground balls and made his first strikeout count in the second inning. Watkins stranded Nathaniel Lowe at third base with an 86 MPH cutter that sent Brad Miller down swinging.
Watkins cruised through the third and fourth inning before finally allowing a run in the fifth. Kole Calhoun led off with a double to right field and Leody Taveras brought him home with an identical piece of hitting. Watkins buckled down and recorded the final two outs with the tying run in scoring position.
Watkins worked a clean sixth inning and recorded the first two outs in the seventh before Brandon Hyde summoned Baker to face Taveras. Watkins received a standing ovation from the modest crowd on hand and Baker finished off the inning.
Baker struck out Marcus Semien to start the eighth and Pérez recorded two quick outs. With the O’s leading by one, López began to warm.
López had not allowed a home run all year before coughing up a long ball in his last three outings. The Birds closer took a pair of losses before his teammates picked him up on July Fourth. His performance tonight felt like it could swing the remainder of his season.
López generated a quick groundout before Jonah Heim reached base with a line drive. López rebounded with an 0-2 breaking ball that froze Calhoun for the second out. Bad Brad Miller stepped up representing the winning run with two outs.
Miller gave the town of Baltimore a scare when he turned around an 0-2 fastball that just managed to hook foul. Several hearts sunk as the ball traveled down the right-field line, but López lived to face another day. He made the best of it with an offspeed pitch in the dirt that sent Miller down swinging.
The outing could represent a turning point for López. He received what appeared to be encouraging words and a hug from Darren Holmes after returning to the dugout with his 14th save.
This win resembled last night’s 10-9 win in name alone but it counts all the same. The Orioles have now won four straight and will face the Angels in a four game set in Baltimore starting tomorrow.
Who was the most Birdland player on July 6?
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Spenser Watkins (Career high 6.2 innings, 4 H, 1 R, 3 K)
Jorge López (1 IP, 0 R, 2 K, records save after three difficult outings)
Ryan McKenna (1-for-3, only RBI)