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Orioles gain game over Rays by picking up 6-3 victory in Angels series opener

Grayson Rodriguez was good enough and Gunnar Henderson hit a late homer to make it more comfortable

Baltimore Orioles v Los Angeles Angels
Gunnar Henderson is all of us thinking about the Orioles being 35 games over .500 on Labor Day.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Going into Monday’s game against the Angels, you might have looked at it as an easy win for the Orioles. Grayson Rodriguez, who’s been good in the second half, pitching against a depleted lineup; Angels starting pitcher Kenny Rosenberg making his second-ever MLB start. Was it easy? No, not really. But Rodriguez overcame a night where he didn’t have his best stuff, Gunnar Henderson delivered a late home run to make things comfortable, and the O’s picked up a game on the Rays with a 6-3 victory on Monday night.

Rodriguez was not at his sharpest to begin the game. His night started with a free pass issued to Angels leadoff man Nolan Schanuel, who you may recall was drafted less than two months ago and is already on an MLB roster. A double play erased Schanuel in time for the next batter, Luis Rengifo, to hit a single. Rodriguez got a strikeout to put an end to the first.

The next inning also started out with traffic for Rodriguez, and this time he couldn’t dodge the damage. Catcher Logan O’Hoppe started the inning with a single. O’Hoppe was thrown out as he tried to steal, with James McCann making the throw from his knees. The bases clear, Rodriguez walked Michael Stefanic, a batter only in the lineup because Shohei Ohtani was a late scratch. Stefanic entered the game with a .186 batting average in 38 career games.

Don’t walk that guy! Except that’s what happened. Former #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak stepped up and faced an 0-2 count after two pitches. Rodriguez tried to get him to chase a slider just like the first two he’d swung through. Moniak didn’t miss the third one, going down to golf the pitch into the right-center gap, an RBI double that gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. It would have to be another comeback win for the Orioles.

The Orioles needed the comeback because their own early efforts against Angels starter Kenny Rosenberg, a guy making his sixth ever MLB appearance who was once a minor league Rule 5 pitcher, did not get them any results. Gunnar Henderson’s leadoff double in the second, which was followed by an Aaron Hicks walk with one out, amounted to nothing.

After falling behind, the Orioles did finally strike against Rosenberg in their half of the third inning. As is often the case with the 2023 team, it took the second time through the order to do it. Well, the second time plus Jorge Mateo’s first at-bat in the #9 spot. Mateo got the party started with a single, the first of five O’s hits in the inning. Austin Hays quickly tied the game with a double, and before the dust settled, Hays had scored and so had Ryan Mountcastle, who drove in Hays. That was good for a 3-1 lead.

This was the only inning in which the Orioles scored against Rosenberg. We all might have liked to see the O’s do better than scoring three runs over six innings against a pitcher of that ilk. A month from now, they’re going to have to face good starting pitchers on good teams in short playoff series, and this guy could keep them in check? That’s a problem for a month from now.

Rodriguez wasn’t perfect after his early miscues, but he did do enough to make that lead hold up. He worked around a couple of third inning singles to post the shutdown inning after the O’s put him on top. That 3-1 lead was cut to 3-2 on a home run by recent Orioles nemesis Randal Grichuk. Like, come on, that freaking guy? But that was as much as they got. Rodriguez struck out the side in the fifth and closed his night with a scoreless sixth, helped by another double play to erase a leadoff single.

In all, Rodriguez’s line saw him largely scatter seven hits and two walks, giving up just the two runs in six innings. Rodriguez struck out seven batters, taking him over the 100 mark for the season. His career ERA has finally dipped below 5. It seems fair to say that this wasn’t Rodriguez’s best night or his best stuff and he still authored two-thirds of the pitching of an Orioles victory. With the AL East race being what it is, we can’t complain about that outcome as September rolls along.

Freed from having to see any more of Rosenberg, the Orioles offense got rolling against an Angels bullpen that lost three players in last week’s waiver frenzy. A two-out rally came together quickly against 30-year-old journeyman Gerardo Reyes. He was almost out of it, then Santander lined a single into center, Mountcastle drew a walk, and Henderson turned on an inside pitch and hit a laser that struck the right field scoreboard above the home run line. For Henderson, that makes 23 home runs this season. It was an emphatic reminder of who the American League Rookie of the Year ought to be.

That three-run homer set the Orioles up with a 6-2 lead. Three relievers got the Orioles the rest of the way. Jacob Webb, waived by the Angels last month, sailed through the seventh for a scoreless revenge inning. DL Hall was touched up by Brandon Drury’s 20th homer of the season, a solo shot in the eighth that set up a save situation for Yennier Cano. No batter reached base against Cano, in part because of Jordan Westburg ranging far into center field for a tumbling catch.

Cano’s save was his sixth. Rodriguez’s win was his fifth. Henderson, Mountcastle, and Westburg all had multi-hit games. It was a whole team effort kind of night, and the result was the 86th Orioles win of the season. They’re 35 games above .500. The unswept streak now stands in sole possession of third place all time at 84. The magic number to clinch the AL East stands at 22, and the magic number to clinch anything at all is 15. This stuff is all pretty darn fun.

The Orioles and Angels will be back at it for another late night game on the east coast on Tuesday night. It’s another 9:38 start time, just like this one. Dean Kremer and Reid Detmers are the scheduled starting pitchers as the O’s will look to do their part to keep shaving down those magic numbers.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 4, 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Grayson Rodriguez (not his best but still good enough)
    (163 votes)
  • 76%
    Gunnar Henderson (three-run homer for late cushion)
    (739 votes)
  • 6%
    Jacob Webb (revenge inning against former team)
    (67 votes)
969 votes total Vote Now