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Orioles minor league recap 7/5: Grayson Rodriguez shines in walkoff Norfolk loss

All four minor league affiliates suffered losses on the 4th of July thanks to late inning fireworks from their opponents’ offenses.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Triple-A: Durham Bulls (Rays) 6, Norfolk Tides 5

Grayson Rodriguez decided to celebrate the 4th of July by delivering his best performance of the season. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to propel Norfolk to victory, as the Tides were walkoff losers in Durham.

Rodriguez threw six shutout innings against Durham while racking up 12 strikeouts—tying a career high. The flamethrowing righty allowed only three hits, all singles, and never allowed a runner past first base. This most recent showing continues a strong stretch at Triple-A for Rodriguez. In his six starts since being demoted, Rodriguez has a 1.83 ERA over 34.1 innings, to go along with 51 Ks. It’s the first real stretch of dominance we’ve seen from the former first-round pick this season. While it seems unlikely he’ll make his way back to Baltimore before the All-Star Break, any post All-Star roster shakeups could very well include a Rodriguez promotion.

Offensively, things were slow going for all parties Tuesday. Durham starter Jacob Lopez threw four no-hit innings before being relieved in the 5th. Center fielder Daz Cameron broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single in the 5th, but Norfolk couldn’t get on the board until the 7th inning. After left fielder Josh Lester reached on a fielder’s choice, Cameron started the scoring with a double to center field that allowed Lester to score from first. César Prieto continued the rally with a single that scored Cameron, and catcher Maverick Handley broke the game open with a two-run shot to center.

The Tides added another run in the bottom of 8th, as right fielder Heston Kjerstad hit a one-out triple to left field and then came around to score on a single from second baseman Connor Norby. Unfortunately, a 5-0 lead heading into the 9th inning wasn’t enough as reliever Wandisson Charles loaded the bases with two outs. Charles went on to walk in the Bulls’ first run, at which point Logan Gillaspie relieved him. A Durham single brought in another two runs, and then the Bulls walked things off with a bases-clearing double to right.

Box Score

Double-A: Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants) 11, Bowie Baysox 5

There were plenty of fireworks in Richmond on Tuesday, but unfortunately many more came courtesy of the Flying Squirrels instead of the Baysox. Bowie raced out to an early lead, as a walk by first baseman TT Bowens set up catcher Tim Susnara, who launched a two-run home run over the right-center fence.

The Flying Squirrels struck back in the 3rd inning with a three-run home run that saw them take a 3-2 lead. Susnara continued to provide all the offense for the Baysox, as he rocketed a solo HR to RF to tie the game at three. Tuesday marked Susnara’s first career multi-HR game and the first time all season Susnara has put up 3+ RBIs.

The Baysox and Flying Squirrels continued to go back and forth in the later innings. Richmond took the lead back in the 6th after a double and sac fly brought home its fourth run of the game. Bowie responded with two runs in the 7th inning to take the lead right back. Jud Fabian led off with a walk and Coby Mayo moved him to third with his 30th double of the season. Fabian was later cut down at the plate on a ground ball, but immediately after, right fielder Billy Cook sent a two-out double to deep left field to bring home Mayo and second baseman Joseph Rosa, giving Bowie a 5-4 lead.

The Flying squirrels provided the last burst of offense though, putting up a seven-run 8th inning to seal the win. Three of Richmond’s top four hitters homered in the inning to put the Flying Squirrels up 8-5. Then Richmond loaded the bases to continue its rally, and a single and error brought in three more runs to put the final nail in Bowie’s coffin.

Box Score

High-A: Greensboro Grasshoppers (Pirates) 8, Aberdeen IronBirds 5

The trend of late-inning collapses continued in Greensboro as the IronBirds allowed five runs in the 8th inning to drop Tuesday’s game with the Grasshoppers. Greensboro raced out to an early lead in the 1st inning. After the Grasshoppers got back-to-back singles, they pushed across their first run of the game on a ground ball to third that Max Wagner failed to corral. Wagner committed another error in the next at-bat, this time allowing two runs to score. So after one inning, the Grasshoppers led 3-0 on the back of three unearned runs.

Catcher Silas Ardoin looked to make IronBird fans forget all about Wagner’s errors. The 2022 fourth-round pick got Aberdeen on the board with a solo HR in the 2nd and then cut the lead to 3-2 with another solo shot in the 7th. The homers were Ardoin’s second and third bombs this season, and ended a homerless stretch of more than two months for the catcher.

Aberdeen then took the lead in the 8th inning off some clutch hitting from the top of their lineup. Jackson Holliday got the rally started with a one-out single, and then moved to second on a single from rehabbing DH Kyle Stowers. Center fielder Dylan Beavers put the IronBirds ahead with a two-run double to right field. The Grasshoppers then walked the bases loaded and left fielder Ryan Higgins forced in another run when he drew a walk, extending the Aberdeen lead to 5-3.

The Grasshoppers responded to the IronBirds three-run top of the 8th with a five-run bottom of the 8th. After a leadoff walk followed by a double, Greensboro’s Ernny Ordonez dumped a single into center, driving home two and tying the game at five. After a walk, Greensboro got another single to score Ordonez and a throwing error by Beavers allowed two more runners to advance into scoring position. The Grasshoppers added another two runs on a fielding error by Holliday and a subsequent sac fly. Of the eight runs Aberdeen gave up on Tuesday, only four were earned.

Box Score

Low-A: Fredericksburg Nationals 7, Delmarva Shorebirds 6

The Shorebirds made sure that the Orioles minor league affiliates went 4-for-4 on the 4th when it came to late inning collapses, allowing seven runs across the last two innings to drop their game against Fredericksburg. The Shorebirds got a strong start from 21-year-old Juan De Los Santos, as the right hander from the Dominican Republic tossed four scoreless innings with four Ks. Both starters held the offenses in check, and things remained tied at 0-0 heading into the 6th inning.

Delmarva’s offense finally came alive in the bottom of the 6th as the club struck for four runs. Shortstop Carter Young led off the inning with a triple to center and then came home on a single from right fielder Trendon Craig. After a walk from catcher Connor Pavolony gave Delmarva two on with no outs, second baseman Noelberth Romero cleared the bases with a three-run home run to left field.

That 4-0 lead stood until the top of the 8th, when Fredericksburg’s bats woke up in a big way. The Nationals hit a three-run homer of their own to start the scoring and ended up collecting five hits and six runs in the inning to push ahead 6-4. The two teams traded runs in the bottom of the 8th and top of the 9th. Shorebirds’ third baseman Anderson De Los Santos tripled home a run in the 8th before Fredericksburg got a run back off of a passed ball.

First baseman Angel Tejada tried to kick off a rally in the bottom of the 9th, leading off the inning with a solo shot to right. However, Young, Craig and Pavolony all went down on strikeouts and the Shorebirds comeback attempt never truly got off the ground.

Box Score

Wednesday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk Tides at Durham Bulls, 6:35pm ET. Drew Rom vs. TBD
  • Bowie Baysox at Richmond Flying Squirrels, 6:35pm ET. Chayce McDermott vs. TBD
  • Aberdeen IronBirds at Greensboro Grasshoppers, 6:30pm ET. TBD vs. Jaycob Deese
  • Delmarva Shorebirds vs. Fredericksburg Nationals, 7:05pm ET. Bradley Brehmer vs. Erik Tolman