BALTIMORE—Rio Ruiz stood at the plate, down to his last strike. The Orioles had blown a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth, and headed to the bottom of the inning trailing 7-5.
Jace Peterson led off with a double. He moved to third on a ground out by Richie Martin. Chance Sisco was hit by a pitch.
Chris Davis, who struck in his first four at-bat, flied to shallow left, and Peterson used his speed to barely beat the throw home to make it 7-6. On a 2-2 count, Ruiz, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk Friday and was in the lineup only because Renato Nunez had a bruised left ankle, hit a changeup from Roberto Osuna to Eutaw Street for an 8-7 Orioles win over the Houston Astros.
It was the Orioles’ first walk-off home run and hit of the season.
Ruiz, who became a father just 15 days ago and hit a home run in his only at-bat on Saturday night, had hit his first home run to end a game. He had a difficult time describing his feeling.
“If I knew, I’d tell you,” Ruiz said. “Kind of just everything was in the moment. I knew that I got it. I kind of looked in the dugout, saw everybody going crazy, and I went crazy. Pretty awesome feeling.”
It was the second game-ending home run to land on Eutaw Street in Oriole Park’s history.
The win ends a grueling week for the Orioles. They lost three straight to the New York Yankees, who hit 16 home runs; had to contend with Davis’ dugout altercation with manager Brandon Hyde during Wednesday’s 14-2 loss; and allowed 23 runs to the Astros on Saturday night.
Then they had to face Houston ace Justin Verlander on Sunday.
“I think you’ve seen us deal with adversity a lot of the year, and we’ve given up a lot of leads,” Hyde said. “The next day, we usually play OK and come back from it. It hurts to give up a lead in the ninth inning and it hurts to possibly lose a game you deserve to win because some of the guys did so many good things today. For the lead to go away, it was a tough pill to swallow there, but Rio picked us up.”
The win went to Richard Bleier, who came in after Mychal Givens allowed three runs in the top of the ninth.
Givens had struck out Josh Reddick to end the eighth, and after the Orioles loaded the bases and failed to score in the bottom of the inning, Givens had to retire three batters to end a five-game losing streak.
George Springer lead off with a single. Jose Altuve followed with a bunt single. Michael Brantley hit a drive to right field, where Anthony Santander, who just moved there from center, couldn’t come up the ball, and Brantley raced around the bases.
A one-run lead for the Orioles instantly became a two-run deficit, but not for long.
“I think it’s been a tough week, so it feels pretty good after a really tough, tough week,” Hyde said. “Now, we go on the road and have another tough week, play two really good teams on the road in our division. That’s a lot better than losing.”
The Orioles play a day/night doubleheader in New York on Monday. After their four-game series at Yankee Stadium, they’ll play three games with Boston at Fenway Park. They’ve lost 12 straight to the Yankees.
After Houston scored 23 runs against the Orioles on Saturday night, it was natural to assume that the matchup of Justin Verlander and Asher Wojciechowski was lopsided.
Instead, the Orioles managed to nearly beat Verlander for just the second time in 12 career starts in Baltimore.
Peterson finished with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs. Trey Mancini had three hits and two RBIs, and Jonathan Villar had three hits and two stolen bases.
“It was a fun way to win a game, a fun way to get out of the homestand,” Peterson said. “Obviously this homestand didn’t go as we wanted it to (but) to leave here with a win like that over a team like that, we’re very happy for Rio. He’s a great ballplayer and came up big for us in that situation.”
Wojciechowski came up big, too, delivering his third quality start when he allowed three runs on four hits in six innings. He allowed a three-run home run to Carlos Correa in the second inning.
“It’s kind of a rollercoaster,” Wojciechowski said of the game. “Just happy with the way it ended, not how it began.”
Nunez rests: Nunez, who fouled a ball off his left ankle and bruised it in Saturday, was rested on Sunday.
“He’s just really sore,” Hyde said. “Just took a tough shot off the ankle.”
Revolving pitchers: The Orioles can add a pitcher on Monday as the 26th man. Gabriel Ynoa will start the first game, and Hyde hasn’t said who will start the second game.
Several of the pitchers on the Orioles and Triple-A Norfolk have made multiple trips between the teams.
David Hess, Branden Kline, Evan Phillips and Tanner Scott have been the most frequent travelers.
After Sunday’s game, the Orioles optioned Tayler Scott to Norfolk. They’ll have two new players for Monday.
Hyde acknowledges that it can be difficult to pitch under those circumstances.
“That’s not easy to do,” Hyde said. “That’s just being a human being in that you’re worried about your job: ‘I don’t want to get sent back down.’ I feel for those guys.
“It’s not easy to have success up there anyway. It’s not easy to face those lineups that we’re facing, and when you have those things in the back of your mind, and you look up on the board, and you have a 7.50 ERA, that’s really, really challenging. Our job is to try to get them as much confidence as possible.”