BALTIMORE—With thunder and lightning in the background, the Orioles were down to their final strike in the bottom of the ninth. Trailing by two runs, Austin Hays pinch-hit for catcher Robinson Chirinos with two runners on base, and with a 2-2 count, he singled to left to score Ryan McKenna and Chris Owings, tying the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays at 6.
Then the rain came, stopping play for 51 minutes.
When play resumed, the Orioles didn’t score again, and they didn’t score in the 10th. But in the 11th, Rougned Odor’s roller to Tampa Bay first baseman Ji-Man Choi eluded him, and Adley Rutschman, playing in his second game and the automatic runner, scored from third with the winning run before an announced crowd of 23,778 at Camden Yards on Sunday
The Orioles’ improbable 7-6 win came on a day when their starting pitcher, Spenser Watkins, was knocked out of the game when Choi, the third batter, hit a shot off his right forearm and the team fell behind, 4-0, before coming to the plate.
Entering this series, the Orioles (17-25) had lost 18 of their last 19 to the Rays (24-17). On Friday night, they won, 8-6, in 13 innings on Odor’s home run. After a 6-1 loss on Saturday in Rutschman’s long awaited coming-out party, the Orioles again came from behind.
It was their third walk-off win in the last four games. Anthony Santander’s three-run homeer in the last of the ninth beat the Yankees on Thursday.
“Very satisfying. Total team effort,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think we don’t quit. We grind it … Just proud of our effort. Everybody contributed. I think our guys played to the end.”
After Watkins took the scary shot that bruised his right forearm, Hyde had to turn to his bullpen, starting with Joey Krehbiel.
“I really didn’t know what we were going to do,” Hyde said. “There’s a few guys that threw today that I did not want to throw because of the workload they’ve had this week, and they absolutely sucked it up.”
Hyde used six pitchers in relief — Krehbiel, Bryan Baker, Dillon Tate, Félix Bautista, Jorge López and Cionel Pérez.
“Pitching won us the game in a situation where it could have been ugly early, and they did a good job of letting us hang around,” Hyde said.
Pérez (2-0) threw scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th, and Hyde said it was likely the Orioles will make changes to their staff for Monday night’s game at Yankee Stadium.
Watkins could be headed to the injured list, even though X-rays were negative.
“Too early to tell. We’ll see how it goes the next day or so,” Watkins said. “We’ll reassess it from there.”
Rutschman, who was 1-for-3 in his first game, was 1-for-5 with a single and was hit by a pitch on Sunday.
Choi’s single off Watson’s arm scored Kevin Keirmaier in the first. It appeared Krehbiel might escape further damage before he hung a pitch to Isaac Paredes, who hit a three-run home run to left field to give the Rays their 4-0 lead.
A run-scoring single by Ramón Urias and an RBI double by Odor cut the lead in half in the third.
First baseman Ryan Mountcastle hit his fifth home run in the fifth. His two-base error in the seventh on a ground by by Kevin Kiermaier set up an RBI single by Randy Arozarena to put Tampa Bay ahead, 6-3.
Urías scored in the seventh when with two outs, Odor reached on an error by second baseman Vidal Bruján and Arozarena dropped Robinson Chirinos’ liner for another error. He also dropped a ball hit by Chirinos for a key error in Friday’s win.
Mountcastle led off the ninth with a single but left with heat-related cramps., according to the Orioles. Hyde doesn’t expect him to miss any time. With one out, Urías walked, and Chris Owings, who bunted Rutschman to third base in the 11th, ran for Urías. After Odor popped to third, Hays singled to tie the game at 6.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games to these guys over the years,” Hays said. “A lot of us younger guys are starting to get more time. We’re just continuing to fight. We don’t want to lose those games anymore.”
Notes: Jordan Lyles (2-4, 4.11), Bruce Zimmermann (2-2, 3.48) and Tyler Wells (1-3, 4.41) will pitch for the Orioles against the Yankees as they begin and eight-game road trip to New York and Boston on Monday nigth. … Rain delays this season total four hours, 20 minutes. … The Orioles have won three of four by walkoff for the first time since September 25th-29th, 1974. … Trey Mancini walked twice and extended his on-base streak to 16 games.
Elias on left field: Orioles executive vice president/general manage Mike Elias said Sunday he is happy about the new left-field dimensions, which included raising the wall six feet and moving the fence out nearly 30 feet.
“We did that move for a reason, and that is Orioles pitchers. It’s a great thing for our pitching staff,” Elias said. “The pitching difficulties that this organization has experienced over a 30-year period because of the dimensions and weather-based factors that have caused this ballpark to play so home-run friendly.
“We’re not in a position to remodel the entire park. We wanted to reduce the number of home runs, particularly to left field that would not be home runs anywhere else and the options that were available to us in a smaller renovation like that … to move the left-field wall back. I think it has been and will continue to be excellent for our young pitchers. I think not having the fear to throw the ball over the plate is something that you can’t quantify.
“Our inability as a franchise for 30 years to successfully sign pitchers on one-year deals. That is a huge problem. It’s very hard to win that way. You need to be able to bring in pitchers on short-term contracts, have them want to be there. It’s going to be a big thing for us going forward.”
Harvey’s timetable: Elias is hoping that the signing of Matt Harvey, who led the Orioles with 28 starts last year, will be beneficial once he completes his 60-game suspension for distributing opioids.
“I think the second half, post-All-Star break, if not sooner than that, we’ll be able to look at,” Elias said. “He’s serving the suspension that we all saw. I think that he’ll be able to continue staying in shape in our facility. We’re going to continue to support him and train him like he’s one of our athletes during this suspension, and once that takes place, we’ll be able to send him out to the minor leagues. He’s on a Triple-A contract. Once he gets to the minor leagues, it’s going to be his performance and stuff that dictates what his plans are. We’re always looking for pitching depth in the upper minors.
“As the [John] Means’ injury showed and some of the the innings’ challenges that we’re facing this year, you can never have too much length or pitching depth … We felt that he was helpful for us last year and did a really good job helping us navigate a difficult season on the pitching side, and I hope that once he gets through all this and pitches well enough in the minor leagues, he’ll be an option.”
Minor league update: Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez struck out nine and allowed two runs on four hits in six innings as Norfolk beat Charlotte, 14-3. Rodriguez (4-1) walked only one and threw 86 pitches.
Outfielder Kyle Stowers hit three home runs — he has nine for the season — and drove in five runs. The Tides hit six home runs. Lefielder Dylan Harris hit a three-run home run, his first, rightfielder Robert Neustrom hit a three-run homer, his eighth, and first baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez hit his third home run, a two-run shot. Neustrom had four hits.
Leftfielder Hudson Haskin, shortstop Jordan Westburg and rightfielder Zach Watson each homered as Double-A Bowie lost to Hartford, 8-7. Haskin’s homer, his sixth, was a two-run home run, Westburg’s, another two-run shot, was his eighth, and Watson hit his second. The Baysox have lost nine of 10.
Centerfielder Colton Cowser had three hits, third baseman Coby Mayo and first baseman TT Bowens each had two hits as High-A Aberdeen lost to Rome, 9-4. Houston Roth (3-1) allowed six runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Rightfielder Isaac Bellony drove in three runs, first baseman Ryan Higgins hit a two-run home run and centerfielder Luis Valdez homered as Single-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 11-4. Five Shorebirds — Higgins, Valdez, second baseman Noelberth Romero, third baseman Darrel Hernaiz and shortstop Isaac De Leon –each had two hits. Bellony had three.