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Reliving the Orioles season shaping victories in the first 50 games

The Orioles have already compiled a season’s worth of thrilling victories. The wild wins have helped for Baltimore’s resilient identity this year.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Baltimore Orioles
How did the Cedric Mullins cycle game not make this list? Someone should really speak to Alex about that one.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles will play their 50th game this week, but the club has already provided more excitement than some teams experience all year. Baltimore entered the week with a 9-5 record in one-run games and a 3-2 margin in contests that went beyond nine innings.

The Birds rarely blow teams out, but they’re never out of a game. Their captivating style of play keeps hitters confident, high-leverage relievers busy, and fans on the edge of their seats late in games. Baltimore has its sights set on the postseason, and the battle-tested group should feel right at home when playing with the game on the line.

It feels premature to place a magnifying glass on games this early into the year, but the Orioles have already captured momentum in several key victories. Baltimore has developed a resilient identity on the backs of several great performances so far this season.

Wells to the Rescue

The Orioles dropped their first series in Boston after an outfield miscue with one out to go. The team traveled to Texas and experienced another setback when starter Kyle Bradish exited in the second after taking a comebacker off his right foot. Danny Coulombe quickly warmed and recorded four quick outs, but an unexpected hero entered the picture in the fourth inning.

Tyler Wells earned a place in the starting rotation with a successful spring. Wells was scheduled to start the following game, but the former reliever told Brandon Hyde he would pitch after Bradish went down. Wells dodged a deep fly ball on his first pitch and proceeded to toss five hitless innings during an eventual Orioles victory.

Wells set aside any apprehension of being typecast as a reliever and offered to help the team. He immediately impacted the game with a spotless performance, but also helped establish a team-first mindset in a young clubhouse.

Rutschman’s first walk-off homer

The Orioles hosted Oakland in the middle of April while looking to bank victories against one of the worst teams in baseball. Baltimore coasted to a 5-1 victory in the series opener but needed 12 runs to outscore the A’s in game two. Oakland scored eight times to secure game three, and the Birds found themselves playing down to their competition.

The Orioles allowed seven runs in the final game and a disappointing series split looked extremely possible. With extra innings looming, Adley Rutschman stepped up and did something he (somehow) had never done in a professional baseball game.

Rutschman launched pulled a ball deep into the outfield stands to secure a series win. The victory lifted Baltimore back above .500 at 7-6, and allowed the Orioles to exit the series with a smile despite not playing their best baseball.

Dodging Perfection

The Orioles used the contact play to secure a walk-off win in the first of three against Detroit. The Birds clinched game two without much drama, but somehow managed to walk off another game without the ball leaving the infield. Adam Frazier darted home on a pitch in the dirt and beat the throw to complete the sweep against the Tigers.

The walk off made for plenty of fun, but the victory stands out because of how the game started. Former Orioles prospect Eduardo Rodriguez pitched perfectly until a Ryan Mountcastle single with two outs in the seventh. Grayson Rodriguez kept the Orioles in the game with five shutout innings, but Detroit finally took the lead with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Anthony Santander evened the score with an eighth-inning double. Ramón Urías helped keep the Tigers off the board with a diving stop in the tenth, and Frazier raced home to complete the sweep.

The victory furthered the sentiment that the Orioles are never out of a ball game. They failed to reach base until the seventh, but finished the day with brooms in hand. Adam Frazier encapsulated the team’s mindset after the game. “Those kind of wins at the end of the season, they add up. That’s how you make the playoffs,”

Beating the best

The Rays historic run kept Baltimore in the shadows at the beginning of the year, but the O’s finally had an opportunity to measure themselves against the best team in the league. The Rays held Baltimore scoreless in the first game, but Baltimore evened the series with a 4-2 win at Camden Yards.

Dean Kremer bounced back from a set of disappointing starts and absolutely dazzled against the Rays. Kremer limited Tampa to only four hits and did not allow a run. The Birds struck for a pair of runs in the sixth, and Yennier Cano continued his meteoric rise with a save against the best team in baseball (for now).

An extra sweet sweep

Let’s end the list with a doubleheader of sorts. The Orioles recorded back-to-back extra-inning victories to complete the sweep at Toronto last weekend.

Ryan O’Hearn erased a three-run deficit with one swing of the bat in the eighth inning on Saturday. The Earl Weaver Special forced Baltimore’s high-leverage relievers back into action after a four-run win on Friday. Cano tossed a scoreless eighth, and Félix Bautista delivered a scoreless frame to force extra innings.

Ryan Mountcastle scored the go-ahead run when a throw home hit him in square in the back. Bautista returned in the tenth and struck out the side to leave the tying run on second base.

Cano, Bautista and Bryan Baker were all unavailable for the Sunday matinee. The game may have felt like a throw away to fans, but MASN’s Gregg Olson insisted the Orioles were not simply playing with house money. Kremer grinded his way through five-and-a-third, and the remainder of the bullpen went to work. Mychal Givens debuted, while Cionel Pérez and Coulombe played their parts. Austin Voth allowed the Manfred Man to reach in the tenth, but Michael Baumann saved the day with five big outs.

Baltimore exploded for five in the top of the 11th. Hays, Vavra and Mullins all drove in runs to demoralize Toronto and lock up the victory. The Orioles headed back to the States with three wins and only a few dirty looks from the Blue Jays.