The Orioles held the Atlanta Braves to four hits in 12 innings, and still lost. After Matt Olson, Atlanta’s second batter, hit a home run in the bottom of the first against Oriole starter Tyler Wells, the Braves didn’t score until Michael Harris’ 12th-inning double gave them a 3-2 win over the Orioles at Truist Park on Sunday.
Wells gave up one run on three hits in five innings, and the Orioles’ bullpen held Atlanta hitless until Cionel Pérez gave up the game-winning double.
The Orioles (22-12) had won seven consecutive series and took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th on Anthony Santander’s RBI single.
Santander’s hit was the only one the Orioles had in the final eight innings. They had only five in the game, two by Santander, whose six consecutive multi-hit games are a major league high in 2023.
The Orioles left 11 runners on base, and Santander’s hit was the only hit with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-14.
Félix Bautista’s wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th scored Sam Hilliard with the tying run.
In the top of the 11th, Austin Hays, who was the automatic runner, tried to take third base on a fly ball by Adam Frazier but was thrown out by an excellent throw by Atlanta centerfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.
Harris’ double scored Ozzie Albies, who was the automatic runner in the 12th.
The Orioles hadn’t lost a series since April 7th-9th, when they dropped two of three to New York. Their two straight losses to the Braves were their first since April 8th-9th.
After a 9-4 win on Friday night, the Orioles lost a 5-4 game on Saturday night.
While they played the Braves, the team with the best record in the National League, even on Saturday and Sunday, they still lost two of three.
The three games against the Braves began a difficult stretch for the Orioles, who begin a 10-game homestand on Monday night with Tampa Bay, which has baseball’s best record.
Kyle Gibson (4-1, 4.61) will face Shane McClanahan (6-0, 2.03) on Monday at 6:35 p.m.
When will Rutschman rest? Last month, manager Brandon Hyde insisted that catcher Adley Rutschman wouldn’t play all 162 games, and I’m sure he won’t.
It seemed as if Sunday was an ideal day for Hyde to give Rutschman his first full day off. The Orioles’ 11:35 a.m. start was only about 13 hours after Saturday night’s game ended.
James McCann started instead of Rutschman, and Santander was the designated hitter. It was only the third time this season that Rutschman hadn’t caught or been the DH.
Had the game been a blowout, then Rutschman may have gotten his first full day off of the season, but in a 1-1 game, Rutschman hit for McCann in the sixth, and instead of a day off, he played seven innings behind the plate.
The Orioles have played only three games decided by five or more runs, and the chance to steal a series win was so tempting that Hyde simply had to play Rutschman.
Rutschman was hitless in two at-bats, though he had another walk, his league-leading 28th. He’s in an 0-for-14 slump and is hitting .280, but his on-base percentage is .406. He’s also one of the rare players who has walked more than he has struck out (28 to 20).
That makes him too valuable to rest often.
Not only is Rutschman talented offensively, he’s also a terrific defensive catcher. The Orioles have had some fine catchers in their history, but none has come close to combining Rutschman’s offensive and defensive skills.
Rick Dempsey caught more games than any other catcher in Orioles history, but he never played more than 136 games in a season. In 1978, Dempsey did start 130 games at catcher and appeared in parts of five others behind the plate. He never played another position in the field that year or was the designated hitter.
Rutschman is on pace to start about 115 games, 15 fewer than Dempsey did in 1978, and fewer than Gus Triandos (128 starts in 1958), Matt Wieters (134 in 2013) and Chris Hoiles (117 starts in 1994).
Wieters played in parts of six other games, was the designated hitter in five games in 2013 and played a total of 148.
Rutschman has already been the DH in eight games, so barring injury he could surpass Wieters and perhaps play in 150 games.
Minor league update: Leftfielder Connor Norby hit a game-tying two-run home run in the ninth inning in Triple-A Norfolk’s 5-4 win over Durham in 10 innings.
Second baseman Terrin Vavra, who had three hits, had the game-winning single.
Bruce Zimmermann allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two.
Shortstop Gilbert Lara and rightfielder Billy Cook each hit three-run home runs in Double-A Bowie’s 7-6 win over Erie.
High-A Aberdeen was held to four hits in its 3-0 loss to Brooklyn. Cooper Chandler started and pitched four hitless innings.