A late-night pitching duel was capped off with an Anthony Santander home run to earn the Orioles a 1-0 walk-off win on a soggy Friday night at Camden Yards.
The first pitch of this game was pushed back by 2 hours and 32 minutes due to severe thunderstorms in the area. But for fans of fine pitching performances it was more than worth the wait.
O’s starter Grayson Rodriguez put together the best start of his rookie season. He finished six innings and pitched into the seventh for the first time, and he did it while matching the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole pitch for pitch.
Rodriguez continued to show off the improved stuff he’s had since being recalled earlier this month. The fastball averaged 98.3 mph, and it went beyond the 100 mph mark a handful of times. The rookie pitched to contact more than he usually does and had only four strikeouts.
The only real jam he had came in the fourth inning, when he was facing the lineup for a second-time. He issued a one-out walk to Aaron Judge (smart!), and then served up an Anthony Rizzo single. But it was all quickly erased by a Giancarlo Stanton double play.
Most of the other innings were rather painless. He worked around a lead-off single in the fifth with some defensive help from Ramón Urías at the hot corner. And fought through an 11-pitch battle with Rizzo in the sixth. All in, this start represents another encouraging step forward for the youngster.
Unfortunately, the Orioles offense was similarly stymied by Cole. They would get a single here or there, but that was it. At no point did they look like a serious threat to score a run against the Yankees ace.
But the bullpens had to take over eventually. With the recent state of the O’s relief corps that seemed like a guarantee of some amount of offensive output. Instead, the Orioles were the ones that got the job done.
Shintaro Fujinami came on to get the two final outs of the seventh. He did so in untraditional fashion by walking a batter and then forcing a double play. Yennier Cano was given the eighth, but he would end up splitting it with Danny Coulombe due to his difficulties with recording outs lately. Those two tag-teamed (along with a pair of nice defensive plays from Anthony Santander and Adam Frazier) to wrap up the inning with no issues. And Félix Bautista returned to the mound for a perfect, two-strikeout ninth inning.
It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Santander pic.twitter.com/xQA500onPq— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 29, 2023
All the while, both teams remained at zeros on the scoreboard until Santander stepped to the plate just after midnight. Tommy Kahnle threw him back-to-back changeups, and on the third one, Santander dug it out of the ground and gulfed it into the right field bleachers for the walk-off winner.
That was the lone offensive highlight for either team. The O’s experience against Cole was similar to what the Yankees had with Rodriguez. There was plenty of contact on both sides, fewer whiffs than you would expect, but just not much damage.
The Orioles approached the Yankees lineup in perfect fashion. They were careful with Judge, and even walked him three times. They forced the rest of the order to beat them, and they couldn’t. That’s exactly what you do against a bad offense with a single star. Hopefully it starts a trend for the rest of the weekend.
These two teams do it all over again on Saturday in a game that will be broadcast on FOX. Tyler Wells (7-5, 3.65 ERA) looks to get back in form against Clarke Schmidt. First pitch is 7:15.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 28, 2023?
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Grayson Rodriguez (best start of MLB career)
Anthony Santander (walk-off dong, defense)