BALTIMORE—The announced crowd of 17,573 at Oriole Park cheered Adley Rutschman all night. They cheered when he took the field with the rest of the Orioles and gave him a prolonged standing ovation in his first at-bat. They even applauded when he struck out in that first at-bat.
The Orioles’ top prospect, who found out late Friday night that he’d be making his major league debut on Preakness Day, brought an excitement to the park that lasted throughout the evening.
By the time Rutschman batted in the seventh inning, the Orioles were trailing the Tampa Bay Rays by five runs. Rutschman tripled to right for his first major league hit, joining Matt Wieters (2009) and Manny Machado (2012) as acclaimed Oriole prospects who tripled for their first major league hit.
Rutschman stayed at third, and the Orioles lost, 6-1, to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, their 19th loss in the past 21 games against the Rays (23-17).
“Definitely relieving, a triple was not an expected outcome,” Rutschman said.
Besides striking out on five pitches in the second in his first at-bat, and the triple, Rutschman walked in the fifth, but was erased when Tyler Nevin hit into a double play, and popped to short leading off the ninth.
“Extremely blessed to be able to play this game, have people who support me and cheer for me,” Rutschman said.
Manager Brandon Hyde enjoyed the atmosphere and the approval at unusual times.
“Even like defensive plays, a blocked third strike, a popup caught. I thought it was cool,” Hyde said. “They’re excited to see him, and Birdland was watching tonight. They wanted to see what he looked like. They wanted to see what he looked like on a big stage, and they’re excited about it.”
For Rutschman, the cheering mattered far less than the result.
“Obviously, lost the game and just kind of looking forward to being with the team, trying to win games again,” Rutschman said. “Obviously special that a lot of people were cheering tonight. I can’t wait to get to that normal, everyday team aspect. Definitely a special moment.”
Oriole starter Kyle Bradish (1-3), who was caught by Rutschman many times at Triple-A Norfolk and Double-A Bowie, allowed five runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“It was definitely a joy to share that moment with him,” Bradish said. “I know it’s a big deal for him and the city of Baltimore has been waiting for a while. It was awesome to be out there and share that moment with him.”
Randy Arozarena, who had four hits in Friday night’s game, hit two home runs, a two-run home run in the first, and a home run to left in the fourth.
Arozarena has five multi-hit games, three against the Orioles. He’s hitting .413 with 11 home runs in 23 games against them, and Bradish learned it’s not easy to pitch to last season’s American League Rookie of the Year.
“I made it look pretty difficult tonight,” Bradish said. “Apparently, he’s been the Orioles killer the last couple of years, and I helped that. First time, just got to be better.”
Ji-Man Choi’s sacrifice fly brought home the fourth run, and Harold Ramirez’s infield out the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier homered against Mike Baumann in the eighth.
Besides Rutschman’s triple, the Orioles (16-25) had just one other hit through seven innings — Trey Mancini’s infield hit in the second, which extended his on-base streak to 15.
Tampa Bay starter Jeffrey Springs (2-1) allowed just one hit in 5 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one
In the eighth, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Mancini delivered consecutive two-out singles for the Orioles’ only run.
On Sunday, Rutschman will be the designated hitter, and perhaps things will begin to seem normal. After his interview session, he went on the field and took pictures with his family.
“Everything was kind of unexpected,” Rutschman said. “You can’t really think about what’s going to happen when you’re out there. I didn’t know what to expect, just kind of soak everything in, like I was talking about with those little things in between innings, every [at-bat], make sure I remember those moments.”
For Hyde, it’s on to Sunday’s game and then an eight-game road trip to Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.
“I’m sure this is a huge relief at this point for him,” Hyde said. “There was so much buildup, anticipation. Great to see him get a hit out of the way. I thought he caught extremely well, was extremely impressed with his defense, had great walk, and he hit a triple. It was a great debut, and now he can exhale a little bit, and just start playing the game.”
Notes: Spenser Watkins (0-1, 5.10) will face Corey Kluber (1-2, 4.29) on Sunday. … Bradish’s 27 strikeouts in his first five games tie him with Dean Kremer for the most in team history.
Minor league update: Catcher Jacob Nottingham drove in four runs and hit a two-run homer and rightfielder Robert Neustrom hit a three-run home runs as Norfolk beat Charlotte, 11-6. It was Neustrom’s seventh home run and Nottingham’s fifth. Second baseman Cadyn Grenier had three hits. In his first game since being outrighted, Logan Allen (1-0) pitched a hitless seventh.
Catcher Maverick Handley hit a two-run home run and centerfielder Shayne Fontana also homered in Double-A Bowie’s 4-3 loss to Hartford. Handley hit his second home run. Fontana’s was his fifth. Garrett Stallings allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.
High-A Aberdeen made six errors, three by third baseman Coby Mayo, in its 8-3 loss to Rome. Jean Pinto (1-2) allowed seven runs, six earned, on seven hits in three innings.
Rightfielder Trendon Craig drove in two runs as Single-A Delmarva lost to Fredericksburg, 5-4. Craig, centerfielder Luis Valdez, shortstop Darrel Hernaiz and catcher Michael Mantecon each had two hits. Designated hitter TT Bowens hit his third home run.