PHILADELPHIA—Sixteen games into the season, it’s clear that this Orioles team is better than last year’s. On Wednesday night, they won their fourth straight game and captured their fourth series of the 60-game season.
In 2019, they didn’t win their fourth series until midway through a conventional 162-game season.
The Orioles ran their record to 9-7 with a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Unlike Tuesday’s dramatics and overall wackiness, they won behind three home runs, outstanding relief pitching and an exceptional play at third by Rio Ruiz, who also homered.
Catcher Chance Sisco drove in three runs with a two-run single and a home run. Anthony Santander also homered.
“It seems like the good teams have different guys on different nights,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “And right now, that’s what we have.”
When starter Wade LeBlanc gave the Orioles just 3 1/3 innings, Shawn Armstrong, Travis Lakins, Mychal Givens, Miguel Castro and Cole Sulser pitched 5 2/3, giving up a run on four hits—with Castro allowing the run and three of the hits.
“Middle relief is what won us the game,” Hyde said. “We pitched well, and we got enough runs to hold on.”
Armstrong (2-0) got the win, and Sulser his fourth save in six opportunities.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead when Didi Gregorius walked with one out in the second, and scored on Andrew Knapp’s double.
Santander’s fifth home run, which hit the foul pole in right, tied it at 1 in the top of the third.
Rhys Hoskins led off the third with a walk from LeBlanc, a call that pitching coach Doug Brocail and Hyde strongly disagreed with. Bryce Harper reached on a bunt single, and J.T. Realmuto’s single scored Hoskins. With one out, Gregorius’ sacrifice fly to center gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
Renato Nuñez doubled to begin the fourth. Dwight Smith Jr. dumped a ball in front of Phillies leftfielder Andrew McCutchen. Nunez advanced to third, and Smith took second when McCutchen threw to third. It was ruled a double. Nuñez and Smith scored on Sisco’s two-run single to tie the score at three.
Ruiz hit a home run to right-center with two outs in the fifth against Zach Eflin to give the Orioles their first lead, 4-3.
Sisco homered to lead off the seventh against Adam Morgan for a 5-3 lead.
“All of us have something to prove,” Sisco said. “There’s very few of us on this team that don’t have something to prove. That makes it fun. That makes it competitive. That’s why you see us out there having really good games. We’re going back and forth with these teams, playing hard baseball.”
Sisco is hitting .381 and has a .536 on-base percentage.
Miguel Castro, who allowed three runs in Tuesday night’s eighth inning, was shaky in the eighth again.
Jean Segura beat out an infield single, Gregorius singled him to third and, with one out, Knapp singled to score Segura.
With two outs, McCutchen hit a smash to third that Ruiz fielded going to his left. He flipped the ball to second as he was falling to the ground, and second baseman Hanser Alberto stretched to field the bouncing ball to force Knapp for the third out. The play preserved the Orioles’ lead at 5-4.
LeBlanc’s night: For the second straight start, LeBlanc threw 3 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits, walked three and struck out two.
He was impressed with his hitters.
“You’re starting to see a plan at the plate,” LeBlanc said. “And some confidence that comes with knowing you can succeed with your offense.”
Notable: Alberto struck out three times. It’s the first time in his Orioles career that he’s done that. … The Orioles struck out 15 times, a season-high … Hoskins grounded into three 5-4-3 double plays.
Hyde on Orioles’ mentality: “I think we’ve got a little bit of a renegade group here that’s been dismissed by other clubs,” he said before the game. “Still early on in their careers. They’re trying to fight their way to stay in the big leagues. They’ve found a home here. They’d like to play here.
“You’ve seen a lot of them improve. Once you’ve been [designated for assignment] or put on waivers, that’s tough for a player to go through mentally, and to be able to get another opportunity, you’re going to try to make the most of it. Look at our lineup. I think we had six of them yesterday who’d been put on waivers or designated for assignment, and I think you’re naturally going to play with something to prove all the time, and I think that we’ve done that so far.
“They don’t talk about it, but I think that they play like it. I think that Hanser Alberto plays like it. Pedro Severino plays like it, Rio Ruiz. Guys that have moved around different organizations. Maybe teams gave up on them early. Roster decisions happen, and things happen with teams and sometimes you’re the odd man out, and we’ve had guys that have been the odd man out. I just like the energy with which we play.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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