This Orioles team never says die. If you take any one thing away from this recap, it should be that. The 2022 Orioles Never. Say. Die.
Down 3-0 after six innings and 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the 2022 Orioles showed what this team is all about in their 5-4 win over the Angels. Rougned Odor was down to the Orioles’ last out—he singled into left field. Adley Rutschman was down to his last strike—he doubled to plate Rougy. Not to be outdone by the rookie, Cedric Mullins laced a two-strike hit of his own up the middle to bring Adley home. Then Trey Mancini—the ultimate Never Say Die player, the conqueror of cancer and destroyer of baseballs—launched a 3-2 slider over Brandon Marsh’s head in left, scoring Mullins and launching Birdland into blissful pandemonium.
THE COMEBACK KIDS pic.twitter.com/gYglN1t38g— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 9, 2022
This team seemed lifeless early on, barely scraping together a pair of hits through six innings. They were waving through hanging breaking balls, swinging at impossibly high fastballs. Not to mention getting Mike Trouted to the tune of 3-5 with a three-run homer in the third. Oh and, for good measure, Shohei Ohtani hit a mammoth shot to center in the ninth for an Angels insurance run. This writer had a lede all prepared talking about how sometimes one team has Mike Trout and the other team doesn’t—and that’s the difference.
Except, on Friday night, it wasn’t. Cedric Mullins was the difference. Adley Rutschman was the difference. The Orioles’ bullpen, which threw five innings of one-run ball to keep this team in it, was the difference. Trey Mancini was the difference. It is 2022 and the Orioles have difference makers—plural—and they showed that in abundance on Friday.
The ninth-inning heroics even somewhat obscure what was a multi-inning comeback effort. Ramon Urias drove in Austin Hays to plate the Orioles’ first run in the seventh. Adley struck out with Anthony Santander at third to end that same inning, but his insertion off the bench would still end up paying huge dividends.
Mullins then doubled to lead off the eighth and then would come home to score on a Ryan Mountcastle single. Yes, Mountcastle—representing the tying run—was stranded at second. Yet, as the wise philosopher Linkin Park once stated, “In the end, it doesn’t even matter”.
And now, to recap the less important, early part of the game:
Early on, Trout and others made life difficult for starter Tyler Wells. The righty came in with a 1.89 ERA but clearly did not have his best stuff Friday night. It didn’t help that the Angels excelled at taking pitches that Wells put on the outside of the plate and sending them the other way. The two walks and numerous three-ball counts saw Wells be the first Orioles starter in over a week to no record and out in the fifth inning.
Angels starter Reid Detmers did have his stuff working and delivered in a big start for the Halos. After pitching a no-hitter in May against the Rays, Detmers had significantly struggled ever since. An ERA of 5.67 in his last six starts earned Detmers a demotion to AAA. After only one (dominant) start in the minors, he made it back to the bigs for a start on his 23rd birthday. Maybe it’s just that Detmers enjoys pitching against the AL East because he was once again cruising against the O’s.
After allowing a single to Mancini in the first inning, Detmers went through the next 14 Orioles without allowing another hit. He finished the evening with six scoreless innings, two hits allowed and seven Ks. Detmers relied heavily on his slider throughout the night, using that as his primary offspeed offering. Coming into the game Detmers had thrown his slider 16.5% of the time—on Friday he was up to almost 40% sliders. Of the 36 sliders he threw, only 7 of them were put into play.
To make matters worse against Detmers, the Orioles were fighting good pitching AND bad luck. The Orioles had five balls with exit velocities over 100 MPH against the lefty. Three of them had expected batting averages over .700. Only one of those batted balls was a hit. The Angels, for comparison, were 4-6 on balls hit over 100 MPH—including the home run from Trout.
All that luck turned around when it mattered, though, and the Orioles now have their first six-game winning streak since 2020. As I said to one of our commenters on Friday night’s game thread: this is the 2022 Orioles, we always remain positive until the very end. Friday the Birds delivered perhaps their biggest justification of that mindset to date. What a team. What a season. What a future. Never say die, Orioles fans, and let’s do this all over again Saturday.
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The Orioles’ bullpen