End modest two-game losing streak: check.
String together timely hits: check.
Flash Kyle Bradish’s dominance in front of friends and family: check.
Extend streak of not getting swept to 83 series in a row: check.
Increase AL East lead to 2.5 games: check.
Surpass last year’s win total, with 27 games still remaining: check.
The Orioles tallied every item off their checklist with an all-around well-played victory over the Diamondbacks, 7-3. The Birds’ offensive revival was a welcome sight, but the star of the show was emerging ace Kyle Bradish, an Arizona native, who delivered another impressive outing with dozens of friends, family, and former teammates in the Chase Field stands.
Bradish’s only bad inning was the third, and even then, he fell victim to some unfortunate luck, replete with dinks and doinks and bad-hop choppers. Bradish walked the leadoff hitter and Corbin Carroll followed with a comebacker that deflected off Bradish’s glove for an infield single. Ketel Marte then pounded a ball into the ground that took a funky, Baltimore-chop bounce off the Chase Field turf and over the infielders’ heads, dying in short right field. Marte raced into second with a double as one run scored. Teams shouldn’t be allowed to use a Baltimore chop against the Orioles. We invented it! It’s our thing!
Bradish struck out Tommy Pham on a wicked curve for the first out before plunking former Oriole Christian Walker to load the bases. (Walker had to leave the game with right hand discomfort.) Needing a double play, Bradish induced a hopper to short from Alek Thomas, but again it took such a high bounce that the O’s could only get the force at second, allowing another run to score. Bradish finally ended the inning on a grounder on his 25th pitch. The Orioles trailed, 2-0.
Not for long. In the top of the fourth inning, the Orioles’ bats finally unleashed the kind of sustained, pass-the-baton offensive rally that they’ve been lacking for so long. Through three innings, Arizona rookie starter Slade Cecconi had stymied them just like Zach Davies and Ty Blach and a litany of nondescript opposing pitchers had done to the Birds for the past two weeks. But the O’s completely turned the tables in that sensational fourth.
Ryan O’Hearn got the fun started with a one-out single, and Austin Hays took a page out of the Diamondbacks’ book by reaching on a high infield chopper. Up came Cedric Mullins, who really hasn’t gotten into an offensive groove since returning from the IL in mid-August. Well, maybe this’ll help: Mullins crushed an Earl Weaver Special, a no-doubt-about it, three-run homer into the right-field seats. There we go! With one mighty swing, the O’s had turned their two-run deficit into a one-run lead.
It was if that Mullins dinger lifted a giant weight off the Orioles’ shoulders — and placed it onto Slade Cecconi’s shoulders. The right-hander completely collapsed from that point on, failing to get another out. You might say that the O’s really...slayed Cecconi. One after another, O’s hitters lashed the ball around the park — Ramón Urías single, Adam Frazier RBI double, James McCann run-scoring double, Adley Rutschman RBI single — as Arizona manager Torey Lovullo scrambled to get Joe Mantiply ready in the bullpen. More of this, please, Orioles! When Rutschman became the seventh consecutive Oriole to reach base, Lovullo decided to go forth with Mantiply. Cecconi’s night was done after 3.1 innings and six runs, all of which scored in the fourth.
Right around the time the O’s were erupting with the bats, the second-place Tampa Bay Rays lost a walkoff to Cleveland in the 11th inning, opening the door for the Birds to increase their AL East lead. I love when that happens.
Now with a 6-2 advantage to work with, Bradish made it stand up. He worked past a leadoff walk in the fourth to strike out two, then erased a leadoff single in the fifth on a double play. Bradish entered the sixth inning needing three more outs to record his fourth consecutive quality start and 15th of the year. The D’Backs didn’t make it easy, making Bradish throw 20 pitches in the frame to run his count to a season-high 107, but he eventually set down all three batters of the inning to lock it down. Six innings, two runs, six strikeouts. Another night, another quality start for the Orioles’ ace, who held steady at a 3.03 ERA for the year. He put on a great show for his welcoming party in the stands.
Adley Rutschman tallied the Orioles’ final run with a seventh-inning homer off former O’s farmhand Scott McGough, and the rest of the night was surprisingly drama-free for an Orioles game. Relievers DL Hall, Jacob Webb, and Joey Krehbiel handled the final three innings, with a Gabriel Moreno solo homer off Krehbiel the only damage.
There was one moment of concern in the ninth when Anthony Santander took a Luis Frías fastball off his hand. Brandon Hyde said after the game that Santander was getting precautionary X-rays but “should be OK.” Let’s hope so. I’m probably not the only one who had flashbacks to CC Sabathia breaking Nick Markakis’s hand with a pitch when the O’s were on their way to the playoffs in 2012.
Assuming Santander isn’t hurt, it was about as good a night of Orioles baseball as you could have asked for. The Birds are back in the win column with number 84 of the year, already their most since 2016. And we’ve still got four weeks to play.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Saturday, September 2?
This poll is closed
Kyle Bradish (quality start in front of his friends and family)
Cedric Mullins (Earl Weaver Special that started the O’s rally)
Adley Rutschman (HR and RBI single)