BALTIMORE—It’s been nearly two years since the Orioles recorded a sweep. On Sunday, manager Brandon Hyde, who went through the 2019 season without even a two-game sweep, got to enjoy a three-game one.
The Orioles’ 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays moved their record to 5-3 ahead of a day off on Monday and a rescheduled four-game series with the Miami Marlins, beginning Tuesday.
A three-run seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Orioles three straight wins over the Rays. Their last sweep was also a three-game one against Toronto on August 27-29, 2018.
“It definitely escaped us last year,” Hyde said in a video conference call. “It’s still really early in this season. We beat a good club.”
The Orioles’ first eight games came against the American League East. They won two of three to open the season in Boston before dropping two at home to the Yankees, the second a demoralizing 8-6 loss — their 18th in a row to New York — after they overcame a 5-1 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
But, as the Orioles did after an Opening Game 13-2 loss to Boston, they didn’t allow the Yankees’ setback to carry over to their series against the Rays.
“I just want to continue to keep it going and have our guys to feel what this feels like,” Hyde said. “Playing tight games, playing with the lead, being able to come in and throw strikes out of the bullpen with a lead.”
Cedric Mullins began the seventh with a bunt base hit against Jalen Beeks. He stole second, and Hanser Alberto doubled against Chaz Roe to score Mullins. Renato Nunez, who hit his second home run in as many games in the third inning, singled to score Alberto.
Nunez, who took second on the throw home, scored on a double by shortstop José Iglesias, and the Orioles led, 4-1.
Pat Valaika, whose single won Saturday night’s 11-inning game, homered to center, his first as an Oriole, leading off the eighth.
Evan Phillips, who pitched a spotless seventh, recorded his first major league win.
Miguel Castro retired all three batters he faced in the sixth, and Cole Sulser retired six straight Tampa Bay hitters in the eighth and ninth for his third save.
“We’re throwing strikes, and we’re letting our defense play,” Hyde said. “Our starting pitching, for the most part, has given us a chance, at least getting to the middle part of the game. That was a question mark because we didn’t know with the quick summer camp …how our starters were going to do and how long we go with them, and how sharp they would be.
“We’ve had some really pretty good starts and our bullpen guys have come in the game and filled up the strike zone. That’s been the key for us, and that’s something we really struggled with last year.”
Milone’s day: Tommy Milone, who hadn’t pitched since starting opening night in Boston on July 24, got through five innings without allowing a run. He allowed five hits, striking out eight and didn’t walk a batter.
“I was able to navigate,” Milone said. “Knock some rust off. The last few innings, I started feeling a little bit better, better command.”
With Castro warming in the bullpen, Brandon Lowe homered to begin the sixth inning, and Milone was done.
Injury report: Rio Ruiz was scratched with shoulder inflammation before the game. Valaika replaced him at third base.
Chris Davis remains out with knee soreness. It was the second straight game Davis missed, but Hyde said he was available to pinch-hit.
José Iglesias, who hasn’t started since Wednesday because of a left quad injury, pinch-hit for the second straight game. Iglesias hit for Chance Sisco, who was the designated hitter, in the fifth.
Interesting stats: Oriole pitchers struck out 10 Rays hitters. It was the fifth straight game in which they struck out 10 or more, a club record.
Sisco was hit by a pitch in the first and singled in the third. He’s batting .333 (2-for-6) but has a .636 on-base percentage. In 11 plate appearances, Sisco has two hits, four walks and the hit-by-pitch.
DJ Stewart was 0-for-1 and is hitless in 12 at-bats this season. Centerfielder Austin Hays, who is in a 0-for-15 slide, didn’t start. He hit for Stewart in the sixth, and was hitless in two at-bats.
“I’m just giving Austin a little bit of a breather,” Hyde said. “He’s been taking good at-bats, but he’s grinding a little bit right now. I feel like it’s a good day to rest, especially before an offday to give him a couple of days off.”
Andrew Velázquez had his first hit as an Oriole in the second.