The Orioles showed their mettle Sunday against the Rangers, coming up with some clutch late hits in a 3-2 win over Texas.
With the game tied at two, and after giving up a one-run lead in the top of the 8th, Baltimore immediately responded in the bottom of the inning. Cedric Mullins led off the inning by working a seven-pitch walk, putting the winning run on first base. Adley Rutschman then worked a full count and. with Mullins running, the O’s catcher laced a single up the middle to set up Austin Hays with a first-and-third-no-outs scoring opportunity. As he has all series, Hays rose to the occasion, bouncing a single off the pitchers mound and into center field to score Mullins and restore the O’s one-run lead.
The Orioles found themselves in that situation thanks to some uncharacteristic shakiness from the back end of their bullpen. Yennier Cano relieved starter Kyle Bradish with two outs in the seventh and, unfortunately for the O’s, the righty from Cuba was not up to his normal rock-solid standards. With a runner on first, Cano left a single in the middle of the plate and Rangers’ catcher Jonah Heim lined a double into the right-field corner to make it second and third with two outs. Cano would get out of the jam by striking out outfielder Travis Jankowski on a 2-2 changeup—but the up and down form followed him into the 8th.
Outfielder Robbie Grossman led off the 8th inning with a single and was immediately replaced by pinch runner Bubba Thompson. The Rangers moved Thompson to second with a grounder to first base, and then moved him to third with a grounder to second. Cano looked to get out of another jam, but instead left a sinker over the plate to Corey Seager, who launched the ball over Mullins for a double—driving home Grossman and tying the game at two. It was only the third earned run Cano allowed this season, and his first blown save in 2023.
However, while La Roca wasn’t at his best, La Montaña has as imposing as ever. Félix Bautista came into the game to close things out in the 9th and completely dominated the three Texas hitters he faced. He punched out Rangers’ clean-up hitter Adolis García on a 101-mph fastball at the letter, then blew another triple-digit fastball by Josh Jung for a strikeout. Heim represented the Rangers last chance but, in classic Bautista style, the catcher swung through a nasty 2-2 splitter to seal the O’s win. Things usually may be bigger in Texas, but none of the Rangers’ bats were big enough to stand up to the prowess of Bautista Sunday afternoon.
After struggling Friday and Saturday, the O’s offense was inconsistent again against Texas, but came up big in clutch moments early and late. Baltimore raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to more clutch hitting from Hays. Mullins led of the inning by reaching on a dropped pop that Seager couldn’t field behind second base. Rutschman then singled into right field to give the O’s their first scoring threat. Just as he came through later in the game, Hays was plenty clutch in the 1st, launching a single to deep right-center to score Mullins. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Ryan Mountcastle hit a sac fly to right field to double the O’s early advantage.
Scores chances were hard to come by the rest of the game for Baltimore. They’d go down 1-2-3 in the 2nd inning, and Hays got stranded at third after a two-out triple in the 3rd. From the 4th inning through the 7th inning, the Orioles only had two base runners and neither advanced past first base. In a series where offense was hard to come by for Baltimore, Hays was really the only consistent source of offensive firepower. After going 3-4 with the triple and two RBIs Sunday, Hays finished the series hitting .545 (6-11) with three extra-base hits and three of the Orioles’ eight RBIs.
Bradish didn’t earn the win Sunday, but he still put together one of his best starts of the season. After shining in his last two home starts, Bradish delivered another impressive outing in front of the Camden Yards faithful. The second-year right hander showed he was in command of his full arsenal early on in the game. He started off the 1st inning by striking out the side—K-ing Marcus Semien on a slider away, dropping a big curveball on Corey Seager for a punch out and then getting Nathaniel Low to swing over the top of a back foot slider.
In the 2nd inning, Bradish worked around an early two-on, nobody out jam. After giving up a weak single to right off the bat of Adolis García, Bradish walked Josh Jung to bring up former Oriole farmhand Jonah Heim. The big switch hitting catcher delivered a pitcher’s best friend, grounding the ball to Ryan Mountcastle at first, who started a 3-6-1 double play. Then, with García at third, Bradish dropped a 0-2 curveball on Travis Jankowski to pick up his 4th K and escape the jam.
As Bradish went through the Texas lineup a second time, he began to pitch to contact more instead of relying on strikeouts. He cruised through the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings without allowing a single base runner. The loudest out of the bunch came on a Semien lineout to deep RF that ended the 3rd inning. Through five scoreless innings, Bradish had only allowed one hit, two base runners and only faced one batter above the minimum.
In the 6th inning Bradish started the show the first signs of struggle with the Ranger’s deep and talented lineup. Grossman led off the inning with a sharp line drive to right for a single. After getting Leody Taveras to fly out to left, Bradish made his first true mistake to the former All-star Semien. The right-hander hung a slider and Semien blasted deep to left center and off Elrod’s Corner, driving home Grossman with an RBI double. With the Orioles now only up 2-1, Bradish kept the Rangers from tying the game by getting Corey Seager to line into a double play by hitting the ball right at shortstop Jorge Mateo.
Bradish would come back out for the 7th and looked to complete seven innings for the first time this season. The first out of the inning was another loud one, as Lowe lined a rocket right into the glove of Gunnar Henderson at third base. Bradish followed that up by getting García to lift a lazy fly ball to center field. However, the O’s starter’s afternoon would end without getting out of the 7th, as Brandon Hyde pulled him after Josh Jung bounced a two-out single up the middle. Bradish finished with a final line of 6.2 IP, 4 hits allowed, 1 earned run and four Ks—bringing his May home ERA down 0.92.
The win puts Baltimore back above Texas in the current race for the second-best record in all of baseball. It also extends a streak that dates back to last season of the Orioles avoiding sweeps. The Orioles last got swept in a May 2022 home series vs. the Yankees—meaning the O’s still haven’t been swept since Adley Rutschman joined the team. While losing the series to Texas still doesn’t feel great, Baltimore showed the type of resilience Sunday that playoff teams need to go deep in October. Undoubtedly, should the Orioles make the playoffs, they could face a situation where they drop two games in a row and need to bounce back. Hopefully, they’ll be able to look back at this win over Texas and draw on the experience when the games really count.
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