On the day that the heart of this year’s Orioles was traded, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see this team have a quiet game.
Just hours before the game, news broke that Trey Mancini was headed to the Astros. The players expressed their disappointment at losing such a big part of this year’s surprisingly full team, but then they went out onto the field and laid waste to the Texas Rangers.
The scoring started immediately with Cedric Mullins’s fence scraper to left field for his ninth home run of the year. When the Orioles got the next two batters on (Adley Rutschman single, Anthony Santander HBP) but didn’t get either in, it felt like it might be one of those games. But it was not one of those games!
The top of the second inning saw Terrin Vavra pick up his first major league hit. It didn’t leave the infield but it got the job done. After a Ryan McKenna strikeout, Jorge Mateo absolutely scorched a ball to second base that Ezequiel Duran couldn’t handle. It was scored an error, which was the right call, but the ball left the bat at 109 mph so I’ll cut Duran some slack.
The table was set for Mullins, who came through again. A single back up the middle plated Vavra for the second run. The Rangers challenged the close play but were denied. After Rutschman walked to load the bases, back-to-back singles from Santander and Ryan Mountcastle brought in two more runs. It’s especially nice to see Mountcastle join in on the fun as he has been mired in a pretty bad slump.
The bases remained loaded but neither Rougned Odor nor Ramón Urías could extend the rally further.
One thing to note is that between Rutschman’s walk and Santander’s single, Rangers’ starting pitcher Jon Gray had to come out of the game with an injury. It was later announced to be left side discomfort. Wishing the best to Gray for a quick recovery.
After a 1-2-3 third inning, the offense was back in action for the fourth. This time it was Mullins’s turn to walk and Rutschman doubled him in for the fifth run of the game. Mountcastle followed his previous RBI single with an RBI double to score Rutschman, his first extra-base hit since July 15th.
The Mullins-Rutschman-Mountcastle trio had a great night. All three had multi-hit games with at least one extra-base hit. Mullins homered, singled, and walked in the game; Rutschman had three hits including two doubles, plus a walk; and Mountcastle had an RBI single and an RBI double.
Not so great were Odor and Urías, who again squashed the rally in the fourth inning. Tough night for the duo who combined to go 0-for-10 with 13 men LOB.
The bats quieted for a few innings before adding on their seventh and final run in the seventh inning. The bottom of the lineup got in on the action with a McKenna single followed by a double that was smoked by Mateo into left field. McKenna sped home for the run while Mateo cruised into second.
The knock on Mateo is that he doesn’t hit enough to be an everyday player even with his outstanding defense. But that hasn’t been the case the last few weeks. From July 10-31, Mateo had an OPS of .919 with nine extra base hits. Tonight he added in a single and a double in addition to the 109 mph smash that resulted in a fielder’s choice/error. He also stole a base, because of course he did.
All of this offense was in support of starting pitcher Spenser Watkins, who had a very nice game. Through five innings, Watkins allowed just three baserunners. All three reached via single and all in different innings. The lead the Orioles built never felt in danger.
After making a few loud outs in the fifth, the Rangers finally broke through in the sixth via solo homer. Corey Seager’s 24th of the year broke up the shutout, and a single two batters later from Nathaniel Lowe made the sixth inning the first where the Rangers had multiple runners.
Watkins completed the sixth inning with a strikeout of Adolis Garcia, his fifth of the game. Final pitching line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Great job, Spenser! It was the first quality start for the Orioles in 14 games.
Keegan Akin replaced Watkins in the seventh inning and finished the game off with three innings pitched. He allowed just two hits in his three innings, the first a solo home run. Nick Solak hit his third of the year as a pinch hitter to make the score 7-2. The second came as a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth, but Akin immediately got his best friend, a double play.
Orioles win! Some days you just need a nice, low stress win and today was one of those days. They creep back to a game over .500.
Everyone is going to miss Trey Mancini, but if the team he just left and continue this kind of play, it’ll help smooth things over nicely.
Who is the Most Birdland Player for August 1st?
Adley Rutschman (3-for-4, 2 doubles, walk)
Ryan Mountcastle (single and double, possibly coming out of that slump)
Cedric Mullins (RBI single, homer, walk)
Spenser Watkins (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K - first team QS in 14 games)