Today, Camden Yards celebrated its 30th anniversary with some magical moments to mark the festivities. During a pre-game orange carpet ceremony, the team honored former Orioles greats with footage of some of the highlights of the last 30 years: Rick Sutcliffe’s April 6, 1992 complete game shutout to inaugurate the ballpark. The Chris Hoiles grand slam. Jeff Reboulet’s improbable home run against Randy Johnson to cap off the 1997 season. Rodrigo López’s snowy Opening Day start in 2003. The Curse of the Andino. Cedric Mullins’ 30-30 season. Mike Mussina’s near-perfect game. Eddie Murray’s 500th home run. After that, Hall of Famers Murray and Mussina threw out the first pitch together. (In case you missed it, here’s MASN footage of the whole ceremony.)
On top of that, before the game Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson dropped by the locker room alongside Murray, telling the current crop, “I watch all the games, and you’ve been thrilling the people of Baltimore.” Brooksie and Murray also dropped by the MASN booth during the game for a chat about how beautiful Camden Yards is, the merits of Mt. Walltimore (it evens up the playing field, said both Brooks and Ben McDonald), fun times eating crabs, the hardest thrower Robinson ever faced (Nolan Ryan), and some hitting advice from Murray (swing with 80% effort, not 100%, OK?).
It was special to see these guys and get to share some memories. I’m delighted to report that the on-field antics were just as nice.
On the mound for Baltimore, today’s opener—do we start calling him a starter now?—Austin Voth continued an improbable run of nice pitching. Voth gave the Orioles five innings while allowing three runs, striking out five, and walking one. He almost had a great outing but had to settle for a good one. He sustained no damage until the fourth inning, but after surrendering a leadoff double to Ben Gamel he left up a high fastball to Oneil Cruz, who socked it into the Orioles’ bullpen. At the time, Cruz’s two-run homer cut Baltimore’s lead to one run.
Voth’s blunder hurt a lot less because today the O’s did not waste their early scoring chances. The Birds kicked things off in the first inning when Adley Rutschman singled up the middle on a JT Brubaker fastball, Ryan Mountcastle correctly ID’d a breaking ball for a single of his own, and The Unbreakable Terrin Vavra, who entered Saturday with a .611 OBP, singled in a run.
The next inning, the Orioles scored two more courtesy of the very bottom of the order. As Rougned Odor strode to the plate in the second inning, Ben McDonald pointed out that the light-hitting 2B had had a great batting practice today. Sure enough, Odor doubled. A wild pitch sent him third, and Jorge Mateo drove him in with a single.
Up next? Oh no, it’s Brett Phillips! Why is he on this team? Well, shame on the haters! Phillips blasted a sinker out to center field, missing a home run by inches. He settled for a run-scoring double, and the Orioles settled for two runs that inning, as Phillips and Adley (he walked; it’s what he does) were left stranded on the basepaths after Santander flew out and Mountcastle and Mullins whiffed (the second time Mullins struck out against Brubaker after missing a flag court home run by inches).
Now, I don’t want to bring around a cloud to rain on a great day, but if there’s one negative to be taken from today, it’s that the Orioles continued to suck at hitting with runners in scoring position. They left 12 runners on base. Rutschman, for instance, reached three times (we’re spoiled, people) but only scored once.
Today, however, 3-for-13 with RISP was good enough. One of the biggest of them came in the fifth inning, when Pittsburgh pulled Brubaker and put in lefty reliever Eric Stout. Ramón Urías doubled and, with two outs, Jorge Mateo was hit by a pitch. Facing a lefty, manager Brandon Hyde summoned Ryan McKenna to pinch hit. (Apparently McKenna and Brett Phillips will be treated as mirror images of each other now.)
Well, the super-sub delivered maybe the biggest hit of the game, a two-out double to left that scored Urías and the speedy Mateo from first. “Did someone order a McDouble?” quipped Orioles Twitter. Alright, Orioles social media team, that’s pretty good. Fear the McKenna!!!
A 5-2 lead became a little closer when manager Brandon Hyde decided to trust Austin Voth with facing a few more hitters in the sixth. It turned out not to be a great call. Voth surrendered a double and a single, giving the Pirates their third run. It’s got to be said, though, that Voth had the hook working, and he was efficient today. Five strikeouts and five-plus innings on 75 pitches from a guy who started with this team on an extremely short leash? Brandon Hyde has to be pleased with that.
The Orioles have the highest positive run differential in innings 7-9 of any team in baseball right now. We saw that today, as the Birds plated a sixth and helpful insurance run in the seventh inning on a Rougned Odor walk (his second of the day!), stolen base (his second of the year!), a nice sac bunt from McKenna and a Mullins sac fly. After that, it was just another a brilliant day at the office from the back-end relievers, plus some more highlight reel defense.
Keegan Akin got three quick outs to conclude the sixth. Joey Krehbiel followed with a three-up, three-down inning of his own. Nick Vespi replaced Krehbiel in the eighth, showing a little rust when he walked a batter, but he drew a ground ball toward Jorge Mateo, and you know what that means! Mateo made a brilliant diving stop and flipped the ball from his belly to Odor, who turned yet another nasty double play.
mama there goes Jorge Mateo again pic.twitter.com/QzdG7Lt9Sw— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) August 7, 2022
With two outs in the ninth, 41,086 rose to their feet to help Dillon Tate close things out with a loud “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh” chant. It felt like the playoff years of ‘14-16. Tate had his good stuff today: he whiffed Michael Chavis to end the game.
Five straight wins, and 21 of their last 28. Brooks Robinson is right after all. This team is thrilling right now.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on August 6?
This poll is closed
Austin Voth (5 IP, 6 H, 3 R, BB, 5 SO)
Jorge Mateo (1-for-2, 2 R, RBI, BB, ninja eighth-inning double-play)
Ryan McKenna (1-for-2, two-run double off the bench)
Rougned Odor (1-for-2, 2 R, 2 BB, SB, 2 R)
Adley Rutschman (2-for-3, R, 2 BB, can’t stop reaching base)