“A game of runs” is a cliché often reserved for high school basketball games. One team jumps ahead, the other climbs back, and the teams trade spurts after a series of missed free throws and 3-point jumpers.
Baltimore’s series opener in Kansas City quite literally served as a game of runs. The Royals jumped ahead with three in the first. Ryan Yarbrough retired the first 10 batters he faced, but the Orioles responded with 10 consecutive runs. Kansas City scored the next four, but Baltimore added insurance before the Royals snapped Yennier Cano’s hitless streak.
A wacky back-and-forth contest saw the Orioles eventually emerge with an 11-7 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Baltimore moved to 10-0 in series openers with the victory.
Yarbrough made the Orioles look silly with five consecutive strikeouts to start the game. The soft tossing lefty perfectly put away the Birds the first time through the batting order, and early struggles from Tyler Wells placed Baltimore in an early hole.
Bobby Witt Jr. led off the first with a solo blast on a hanging slider. Wells walked Salvador Perez, and MJ Melendez followed with a two-run shot to pad the early lead.
Adley Rutschman broke a 10-batter hitless streak with a one-out double to center field. Ryan Mountcastle stepped in and provided his first of several hard hit balls. The first left the bat at 112 MPH and quickly cleared the left field fence.
Anthony Santander worked a walk before Jorge Mateo singled. James McCann plated Santander with a single to left, but Mateo surrendered the second out attempting to steal third. Brandon Hyde attempted to challenge the call, and Mateo may have been safe, but the umpires ruled Hyde waited too long to challenge. Still, the Orioles had evened the score at three.
Yarbrough’s sudden misfortune continued with a pair of walks issued to Gunnar Henderson and Ramón Urías. Cedric Mullins, batting in the nine-hole against a lefty, punched a two-out single the opposite way to provide Baltimore a two-run advantage. Edward OIivares delivered a strong throw to the plate, but Henderson countered with a tremendous swim slide to beat the tag.
Rutschman started the fifth with a single to center and Mountcastle followed with his second two-run homer. This one traveled 433 feet and nearly reached the fountain in left center.
Rutschman delivered again with a double to score Mullins in the sixth, and Mountcastle launched his third extra-base hit to drive in Rutschman for the third time tonight. Mountcastle moved to third on a single by Santander and scored when Jorge Mateo beat out a potential double play.
Roberto Ortiz initially called Mateo out at first, but video review determined Mateo beat the throw. Brandon Hyde raced out of the dugout to emphatically challenge after the umpires denied the skipper a review on Mateo’s failed stolen base attempt in the fourth.
The Orioles appeared to be on their way to a carefree victory, but Kansas City answered with a run of its own. Perez trimmed the lead to six with a solo home run in the sixth. Wells overcame command issues to finish the frame, but the Royals perked up when Baltimore went to the bullpen.
Mike Baumann allowed a leadoff single but was one pitch away from striking out the side. Vinnie Pasquantino gapped an 0-2 pitch to drive in another run, and Perez launched a towering blast on a 1-2 count. Perez shaved the deficit to three and Baltimore’s high-leverage relievers were back in play.
Santander must have felt the tide turning and simply decided to wait it out. The former Rule-5 pick fouled off pitch after pitch before punching a broken bat single on the 16th (sixteenth!) pitch of the at bat. The plate appearance tied for the second longest at bat in Orioles history and restored the good vibes in Baltimore’s clubhouse.
Urías provided some insurance by driving in Santander, and Bryan Baker stalled the Royals with three consecutive strikeouts in the eighth.
The late rally by Kansas City forced Hyde to utilize Cano in the ninth. Maikel Garcia bounced a Baltimore chop to second base and Urías never stood a chance. Garcia reached safely, and batters moved to 1-for-33 against Cano. The reliever recovered to force a fielder’s choice and a pop out to end the game.
Mountcastle left nothing to chance after an unlucky start to the season. He finished with three extra-base hits and five runs driven in. Rutschman reached base five times with a pair of doubles, two singles and a walk. James McCann quietly went 3-for-5 with an RBI as the designated hitter, and Gunnar Henderson walked three times. Austin Hays went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts from the leadoff spot, but his teammates provided plenty of distractions.
The run total jumps off the page, but Baltimore flashed plenty of leather. Henderson made a diving stop and strong throw for the second out in the fourth. Cedric Mullins made a diving catch on the warning track to take away extra bases in the fifth, and Ryan Mountcastle leaped to catch the final out of the seventh at first base.
The Orioles will go for their seventh consecutive series victory tomorrow with Kyle Gibson facing Zack Greinke, but it will be difficult to top tonight’s game of runs.
Who was the most Birdland player on May 2?
This poll is closed
Adley Rutschman (4-5, 2 2B, BB, 3 R, RBI)
Ryan Mountcastle (3-6, 2 HR, 2B, 3 R, 5 RBI)
Anthony Santander (2-5, 2 R, BB, momentum shifting 16-pitch at bat)
Bryan Baker (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K)