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BALTIMORE—For most of the night, Grayson Rodriguez’s disappointing performance in his home debut was what most of the 12,305 fans at Oriole Park were thinking about.
Ryan Mountcastle’s historic night took most of that disappointment away. Mountcastle had nine RBIs, equaling a club record and enabling the Orioles to come back from a four-run deficit and defeat the Oakland Athletics, 12-8, at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.
Mountcastle hit a sacrifice fly in the first, an RBI single in the third before homering twice — a three-run homer in the fifth, and a grand slam in the seventh that put the Orioles (6-5) ahead, 12-7.
Only Jim Gentile (May 9th, 1961) and Eddie Murray (August 27th, 1985) had driven in nine runs, and both did it on the road.
Assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes told Mountcastle he had a nine-RBI night.
“I had no clue,” Mountcastle said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘That’s a lot, man.’”
Rodriguez allowed five runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first home game. He walked the bases loaded in the fifth, and after he left for Austin Voth, each of those three runners came in to score.
He was long gone by the time Mountcastle hit the grand slam and didn’t complete the five innings he did in his first game at Texas on April 5th when he allowed two runs in the first inning and pitched four scoreless innings after that.
“I thought he had better stuff than he did in Texas,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “The guy’s throwing 98 with a good slider and a really good changeup. There’s places to go when you’re ahead in the count to get an easy out or a punchout. He had a tough time doing that tonight.”
There were plenty of nerves at the start of both games.
“It was pretty close to the same,” Rodriguez said. “It was a little bit better having a lot of friends in the stands wearing black and orange.”
The Orioles took advantage of the occasion by handing out Rodriguez T-shirts.
“That was pretty surreal. It doesn’t feel real,” he said. “People coming to the games, getting a T-shirt with my name on it. That’s something that I guessed I dreamed of since I was a little kid, and it came true tonight.”
There were no easy innings for Rodriguez. He walked Tony Kemp, the game’s leadoff batter, who scored. Kevin Smith, who led off the second, singled. In the third, Rodriguez allowed three singles, including one by Jace Peterson that scored Ryan Noda.
Connor Capel led off the fourth with a single, and in the fifth, he walked three, including Peterson on a nine-pitch at-bat, running his pitch count to 99. He still received a warm ovation when he left.
“The support was pretty cool. That’s something that I’ve never been able to experience, having that many people in the stands,” Rodriguez said. “Being disappointed with how it ended, it was nice to know the fans were still with me.”
Voth allowed an RBI single to Smith, and a three-run home run to Shea Laneliers, and it was 7-3.
“The offense had my back,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that this team is about to be known for. There’s a lot of guys in this clubhouse that can swing it, and they had my back tonight. It was pretty awesome.”
Austin Hays had a four-hit game, hitting his third home run to tie the score at 7 in the sixth after Mountcastle hit his three-run homer in the fifth. Hays’ RBI single gave the Orioles an 8-7 lead two batters before Mountcastle’s grand slam.
“Our offense, our lineup, top-to-bottom, is scary when we’re rolling,” Mountcastle said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
The Orioles have played just 11 games, with many of them emotional and exhausting.
“We’re playing in a lot of weird games, high-scoring games, and I think the credit goes to our offense,” Hyde said. “I want to believe we’re going to improve on the mound. I want to believe we’re going to improve in the bullpen. We played good defense tonight. That’s going to continue to improve.
“We’ve swung the bat well to start this year, and we have some guys that haven’t really gotten going yet. A lot of these guys are off to really good starts, and that’s exciting.”
Notes: Hyde said that he allowed Rodriguez to throw nearly 100 pitches in an attempt to save his bullpen. “I can’t continue to pull our starters in the fifth inning.” … Mountcastle’s nine-RBI game was the first since Atlanta’s Adam Duvall on September 29th, 2020. … Dean Kremer (0-0, 10.13) will face Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 14.45) on Wednesday night. … Rodriguez will likely start on Sunday at Chicago against the White Sox.
Minor league update: First baseman Ryan O’Hearn hit a three-run home run, his fourth of the season in Triple-A Norfolk’s 8-5 loss in 11 innings to Nashville. Drew Rom pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits.
Designated hitter Heston Kjerstad hit his second home run and second baseman César Prieto hit his first in Double-A Bowie’s 7-4 loss to Akron.
Alex Pham allowed seven runs, four earned, as Hudson Valley beat High-A Aberdeen, 15-1.
Catcher Creed Willems drove in four runs and had a two-run home run as Single-A Delmarva beat Kannapolis, 7-2. Bradley Brehmer pitched four scoreless innings in relief, allowing four hits.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions next week. Please email them to: [email protected].
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