BALTIMORE—The Orioles celebrated the 30th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday by introducing some key players in the ballpark’s history and receiving advice from all-time greats.
Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray spoke to the team before the game, and the Orioles followed their example with a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates before an announced crowd of 41,086, the largest since Opening Day.
It was the Orioles’ fifth straight victory. At 56-51, they’re five games over .500 for the first time since June 7th, 2017, when they also beat the Pirates.
“Priceless day for our guys,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We were so honored to have Brooks and Eddie in our clubhouse to say a few words of encouragement. Just greatness in our clubhouse. Our guys felt it. They were really appreciative.
“The whole ceremony was fantastic. I think our whole team was out there to recognize some great moments that have [taken place] here the last 30 years and people that have been a part of it, and we were really impressed, but the cherry on top was Brooks and Eddie being in our clubhouse.”
Murray and Mike Mussina threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Robinson made his pitch to the players.
“I told them, they’ve really been thrilling me,” Robinson said. “I’ve been watching a lot of games, and the community is getting into it now. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not an easy game. As [general manager] Mike Elias said, ‘I think it’s liftoff time,’ and I believe that, too.”
Robinson, 85, who wasn’t part of the pregame ceremony because he never played at Camden Yards, was announced as a special guest late Saturday morning. He received loud applause when his name was mentioned by master of ceremonies Brett Hollander and waved to the crowd when he walked onto the field on his way to the Orioles’ dugout just before the ceremony began.
Fans were seated in fair territory in the upper deck in left field for the first time since Opening Day and also were lined up several deep on the right-field flag court, a sight not seen here in recent years.
“That was the best crowd we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Hyde said. “It felt like 41,000 Orioles fans were in the building. They were loud. They were energetic. We appreciate it, and it was a lot of fun for our guys to play in front of that.”
Oriole starter Austin Voth (2-1) worked five-plus innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
“I think the chemistry this team is really good,” he said. “We continue to play hard each and every day, and even when we’re behind in games, we find ways to come back. Showing up to the ballpark, you always have a feel you can almost win every game. It’s just that feel that you get.”
Voth was a part of the 2019 Washington Nationals, who got hot late in the season and won the World Series.
“When there’s 40,000 fans out there, and they’re showing up, it’s definitely a playoff atmosphere. That fuels us as players, for sure,” he said.
The Orioles won despite leaving 12 runners on base in the first seven innings.
Terrin Vavra’s RBI single in the first scored Adley Rutschman. Jorge Mateo’s run-scoring single and Brett Phillips’ RBI double in the second gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead against Pirate starter JT Brubaker (2-10).
Voth allowed a two-run home run to Oneil Cruz in the fourth. After an RBI single by Ke’Bryan Hayes in the sixth, Keegan Akin replaced him and retired the three batters he faced.
Ryan McKenna pinch-hit for Phillips in the fifth and drove in Ramón Urias and Mateo with a double. A sacrifice fly by Cedric Mullins scored Rougned Odor.
McKenna said he felt the energy of the crowd.
“It’s awesome, absolutely,” McKenna said. “The support that we feel when we’re on the field when there’s that many people in the stands is incredible. They’re a big part of it. It’s been really great seeing everybody in here.”
Anthony Santander extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a fourth-inning double.
Pittsburgh (43-64) brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth. Joey Krehbiel, who pitched a clean seventh, hit Bryan Reynolds to start the eighth, and Nick Vespi walked Ben Gamel.
Hayes hit a ground ball up the middle that Mateo dived for, fielded and flipped to Odor at second to begin a spectacular double play. Vespi struck out Cruz to end the inning.
“Let’s not forget how well we played defensively,” Hyde said. “Jorge Mateo, that double play won us the game, pretty much.”
Vespi recorded the first out of the ninth, and Dillon Tate retired the final two batters.
Hyde was excited by the defense, bullpen and most of all, Robinson’s enthusiasm.
“It meant a lot to everybody in that room,” Hyde said. “One of the greatest, if not the greatest third baseman of all time. I read off his stats to our players. It’s just mind-boggling.
“So cool that he watches our games so I couldn’t thank him enough for what he did today.”
Robinson said that he can tell the city is behind this contending team.
“I think it means a lot,” he said. “I think the people really get turned on when the club plays like they’re playing right now. I can just see it when I watch the games on TV, how the fans are … the fans really show you what’s going on, the young people especially. They’re really up for it. It excites me.”
Hays sits again Austin Hays missed his third straight game because of sore left oblique muscle. Hyde said that Hays “was trending in the right direction. He feels a lot better [Saturday]. Hopefully, he’s in there in the next couple of days.
“He took some swings in the cage, felt a lot better, went out and did a pretty good throwing program out there. With an oblique, you just want to be really cautious and want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we put him back out there. He looks good.”
Hyde said he wasn’t thinking about putting Hays on the injured list.
“No, because he was getting better every day,” Hyde said. “With a four-man bench and pretty much everyone else healthy, nobody else is day-to0-day. He’s somebody we didn’t want to lose for 10 days if we don’t have to.”
Odor at third?: Second baseman Rougned Odor has been taking ground balls at third. Hyde said using Odor at third was a possibility. Odor had been used exclusively at second until last season when he played 33 games at third, an experience he said in spring training was “uncomfortable.”
Hyde said putting the left-handed hitter at third could give him more options, such as putting Terrin Vavra at second.
“With Vavra here, and we’ve been so right-handed and to be a le to get multiple left-handers in the lineup, that’s been nice … We want to have that option as well.”
Notes: Spenser Watkins (4-1, 3.80) will face Bryse Wilson (1-6, 6.20) on Sunday afternoon at 1:35. … Santander’s hitting streak is two games short of his career best, an 18-game run from August 5th-23rd, 2020.
Minor league update: Centerfielder Kyle Stowers’ two-run, ninth-inning double gave Triple-A Norfolk a 3-2 win over Nashville. Stowers drove in all three runs and had three hits. Mike Baumann allowed a run on two hits in five innings, striking out seven and walking three.
Centerfielder Colton Cowser had three hits and drove in three runs, and first baseman J.D. Mundy hit a three-run home run in Double-A Bowie’s 8-0 win over Harrisburg. It was the seventh straight win for the Baysox, who are 50-50. Justin Armbruester (2-0) allowed three hits in five scoreless innings, striking out six without walking a batter.
Cade Povich, who was acquired from Minnesota in the trade for closer Jorge López on Tuesday, allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings as High-A Aberdeen beat Wilmington, 3-0. Povich (1-0) struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. He threw 75 pitches. Centerfielder Billy Cook drove in two runs and designated hitter Heston Kjerstad drove in one.