A few seconds after Anthony Santander drilled a ball into the seats to give the Orioles a commanding six-run lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the eighth inning, broadcaster Jim Palmer announced, “That’s what you’re supposed to do against a team that’s not playing at full strength: outplay them in every facet of the game.”
After to failing to dominate the Angels through two narrow wins this series, the Orioles outplayed Los Angeles in every sense tonight. They scored five early runs on starter Patrick Sandoval, pushing him from the game in the sixth, then hung two more runs on him to make it 7-2. Against a depleted LA bullpen, they padded the lead with three more runs on a pair of back-to-back jacks by Anthony Santander and Austin Hays, who went a combined 7-for-8 tonight with two home runs and seven runs batted in. That’s silly.
The clear beneficiary of all this offense: the O’s starter. Last week, Kyle Gibson allowed seven runs to the AL’s worst offense, the White Sox. Tonight, he wasn’t so much fooling Angels hitters as pitching to contact and trusting his defense. Gibson allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over six innings. There were plenty of baserunners but also three double plays completed behind him. Here’s an absurd stat that I learned from the Internet: Kyle Gibson has a 5.12 ERA and is now tied for the most wins in the AL (14). It may be time to conclude that the Orioles are a good team.
With the Birds getting to Sandoval early, there was almost no suspense in this matchup—and sometimes, that’s okay. Throwing out the scouting report on Sandoval and his walk problems, Austin Hays drilled a first-pitch fastball down the third base line for a leadoff double in the second. From the six hole, Ramón Urías drove home the O’s first run with a single to left.
Patience was a virtue as the Orioles soon blew open the game against Sandoval. They loaded the bases with one out in the third inning as Jorge Mateo, in the lineup for the third straight day against a lefty, reached on an error, then stole his 28th base. Two consecutive Orioles walked, Ryan Mountcastle and his astonishing .425 OBP in his last month, and Anthony Santander. That brought up Austin Hays for the second time, and he made Sandoval regret it:
Austin Hays is driving everyone home tonight. pic.twitter.com/QBK1PrV1Ry— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 7, 2023
The Birds weren’t done that inning. Ramón Urías hit a little two-out dribbler that Sandoval couldn’t resist fielding, though he should have let it roll foul. The bases were juiced again. Aaron Hicks has been flat since coming back from injury, but tonight, this worked just fine.
Now it was 5-0 Orioles. A week ago, four runs was not enough of a lead for Kyle Gibson against the White Sox, but tonight he was solid, if not spectacular. He gave back two runs in the third inning, walking a smiling Brett Phillips (why not smile? Phillips is back in the majors and getting free passes out of the nine hole!), then surrendered a single to Nolan Schanuel. A GIDP scrubbed the bases clean—almost. With Phillips now at third, Luis Rengifo, author of the error that allowed Mateo to reach, got some revenge by crushing a two-run homer.
If Gibson was shaken, he didn’t show it. He didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth inning, but when he finally did, it was a good one: the Orioles’ 1,249th on the year, a single-season record for the franchise. Coming in Game #139, that’s pretty good! Yes, the game has changed to one of K’s, walks and home runs, but that total also speaks to the swing-and-miss stuff Baltimore has unexpectedly gotten from Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, Yennier Cano, Félix Bautista, Dean Kremer and others.
Five-to-two became seven-to-two with more free passes and well-timed hits. Patrick Sandoval came out for the sixth inning to give his team length, but it turned out badly. He walked James McCann and Jorge Mateo back-to-back (which admittedly seems difficult to do), then got yanked for Jaime Barría, a righty who entered tonight with a 5.52 ERA. While the MASN booth meditated on the verb “assaulted” in a baseball context, Ryan Mountcastle hit a 114.6-mph single, the hardest-hit ball by an Oriole this season and tied for the hardest of his career. It was hit too hard to score McCann from second, but the baseball gods have a sense of humor: Anthony Santander’s 49-mph dribbler scored the Orioles’ sixth run, and everyone was safe. Then Austin Hays padded his 3-for-3 night with a sac fly to score Mateo, his third RBI.
Regifted a five-run lead, Gibson tried to do what Sandoval couldn’t and make it through the sixth. It wasn’t beautiful—Brandon Drury led off with a double and scored the Angels’ third on a sac fly. But Gibson did it, making a wild play on a chopper to aid his case and recording the last two outs by flyout and strikeout.
That left the Orioles bullpen to cover three innings. First up was Cionel Pérez, who’s got a 0.00 ERA in his last month while holding batters to a .194 average. The lefty breezed through the Angels in a three-up, three-down seventh. Shintaro Fujinami threw an impressive eighth, allowing just one hit and hitting 100 on the radar gun three times. Cole Irvin, making an unusual appearance as closer, twirled a smooth ninth. A seven-run lead does help reduce the stress a little.
About that lead: it was up to seven runs because the Angels left in Jaime Barría a little too long, and he allowed Santander and Hays to go back-to-back to make it 10-3. How great is it to see these guys healthy and pounding the baseball in September?
There you have it. It took a while to break through this series, even against a dismantled Los Angeles Angels, but the Orioles leave the Big A with the desired result: a three-game sweep, their 88th win of the season, and a three-and-a-half game lead in the AL East still intact. Now off to Boston. Let’s it keep rolling!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Wednesday, September 6?
This poll is closed
Austin Hays (4-for-4, HR, 4 RBI)
Anthony Santander (3-for-4, BB, HR, 3 RBI)
Kyle Gibson (bounceback appearance, 6 IP, 3 R)