The Orioles signed Kyle Gibson for outings like this. Gibson, well aware of the current state of Baltimore’s bullpen, stepped up and ate seven solid innings against the Guardians. Adley Rutschman doubled twice and worked two of Baltimore’s eight walks at the plate.
The patient Orioles grabbed an early lead, managed to avoid any late-inning theatrics, and took another significant step toward a division title with a 5-1 win at Progressive Field.
The Orioles took control of the game with three runs in the second inning. Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie struggled to find the strike zone, and Baltimore maxed out its opportunities with a patient approach.
Heston Kjerstad worked a leadoff walk, and Cedric Mullins received the second free pass of the inning after Austin Hays popped out. Jordan Westburg drove in the first run of the game with a double to the left field corner, and Jorge Mateo stepped up with two more runners in scoring position.
Mateo ripped a hard grounder to second base, but Mullins got a great jump from third. Andrés Giménez took the sure out at first, and Baltimore led by two. Henderson followed with the third walk of the inning, and Rutschman loaded the bases with another base on balls.
With the bullpen stirring, McKenzie walked Anthony Santander to gift Baltimore its third run of the game. McKenzie’s fifth walk of the inning—his sixth of the game—was enough to force a pitching change.
Ryan O’Hearn lined out to end the inning, but the Orioles handed Kyle Gibson an early lead to work with. GIbson used the early advantage as an invitation to pound the strike zone. He limited Cleveland to five hits, one walk, and one run over seven innings. The 35-year-old struck out four.
Brandon Hyde finally went to the bullpen when Gibson allowed a leadoff double in the eighth, but the veteran starter did his job today. The Orioles were able to rest several relievers from a taxed bullpen. Danny Coulombe retired three straight batters to strand the inherited runner, and DL Hall closed things out with a spotless ninth.
Baltimore tacked on another run with a pair of doubles in the fourth. Mateo punched a 2-2 slider to left field and advanced to third on a grounder by Gunnar Henderson. Rutschman worked the count full before slapping a ball the other way to left-center. Mateo finished 2-for-4, and Rutschman went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two walks.
Cleveland scored its only run after a leadoff double by José Ramírez in the bottom of the fourth. Ramírez advanced on a grounder by Josh Naylor and scored on another ground ball from Kole Calhoun.
Unsatisfied with a three-run lead, Brandon Hyde sent out Aaron Hicks to pinch hit for Kjerstad in the fifth. Hicks managed an infield single on a high chopper, advanced into scoring position when Hays walked, and came around to score on a single by Mullins. The play marked the final run of the game for either side.
The Orioles finished with more walks (8) than hits (7). Rutschman finished with two of both, and added a caught stealing by nabbing Gíminez at second base to end the seventh. Still, his pitcher stole the show.
Every outing by Kremer and Gibson appears to be an audition for a postseason start. John Means certainly proved he’s ready to take the ball with a win on Saturday. Gibson, who already holds the advantage with playoff experience, showed his skipper something today.
Ramírez tallied three of Cleveland’s five hits of the game. The Guardians lineup hardly resembled the bunch that tagged Kremer and the bullpen for nine runs on Saturday.
The Orioles magic number to win the division dropped to three games after Tampa Bay fell to Toronto. Baltimore will finally receive a day off tomorrow before having a chance to clinch the division this week. Kyle Bradish will take the ball in the first of two games against the Nationals at Camden Yards.
Who was the most Birdland player on Sunday, September 24?
This poll is closed
Adley Rutschman (2-for-3, 2 doubles, 2 walks, caught stealing)
Kyle Gibson (Win, 7 IP, 5 hits, 1 Run, 4 K)