BALTIMORE—While Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle rested, three of the lower-profile Orioles — Aaron Hicks, Josh Lester and Ryan O’Hearn — provided the bulk of the offense.
Hicks, Lester and O’Hearn, all bargain pickups, combined for seven hits, six runs scored and four RBIs as the Orioles won their fourth straight, completing a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, 11-3, before an announced crowd of 23,355 at Camden Yards on Sunday.
Gunnar Henderson continued his hot streak with a three-hit game and a 462-foot Eutaw Street home run, the longest of the 120 hit. The ball hit the Warehouse on a bounce.
“I feel like when I finally get to the man-strength phase I might be able to get a little bit farther,” Henderson, who’ll turn 22 on June 29th, said jokingly. “It feels like it’s been a long time coming. I feel like I’ve had a lot of good at-bats, put some good swings on the ball, and it was just a matter of time until I got one like that.”
Henderson is 10-for-19 in his last five games and his average has climbed from .201 to .236.
“It just goes to show me that no matter what you’re going through you’re going to get through it,” Henderson said. “Just keep swinging and just keep trusting the process. It’s hard to do. I’ll be the first one to tell you it’s really hard to do in the moment.”
The Orioles (41-24) are 17 games over .500 for the first time since July 26th, 2016. They recorded their third three-game sweep and their third winning streak of at least four games. The eight-run margin was the largest of the season.
Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson (8-3) won his fourth consecutive decision, allowing three runs in the first three innings before retiring eight straight. He was removed after allowing a one-out single to Maikel Garcia in the seventh. Gibson allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
“That was our approach all game. Make sure we stay on them. Put some pressure on them each inning,” Gibson said. “Make their defense work. Make their pitchers work, and we put together a really well-played game today.”
Rutschman got is second day off this season, and Mountcastle missed his third straight game because of illness.
Austin Hays’ sacrifice fly and Ramón Urías’ two-run double, which scored O’Hearn and Hicks in the first, put the Orioles ahead, 3-1.
Lester, who was playing first base in place of Mountcastle, had a two-run single in the third that scored O’Hearn and Hicks. A week earlier, Lester had his first major league hit and first two RBIs, also in the third inning at San Francisco.
“You need a strong bench,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We feel great about the depth on our club. Guys like Lester and O’Hearn took really good at-bats today and that’s a lot of production out of them.”
James McCann’s sacrifice fly scored Urías for a 6-3 Orioles lead. Hicks added an RBI double that scored O’Hearn in the fourth, putting the Orioles ahead, 7-3.
Hicks has reached base in each of the 10 games since he signed with the Orioles on May 30th.
“We’re getting contributions from a lot of guys that didn’t break with us,” Hyde said. “That’s what you need over the course of six months to have a winning season.”
Kansas City (18-47) has lost sixth straight and nine of 10. The Royals used Carlos Hernández as an opener, and he was lifted after the first inning. They used Mike Mayers (1-2) as their bulk pitcher. Mayers allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
Salvador Perez and Bobby Witt Jr. doubled in the first, and Perez hit a two-run home run, his 13th, to briefly tie the score at 3 in the third.
Urías had a season-high four hits.
O’Hearn hit his fourth home run in the eighth for an 11-3 lead.
“You saw how many guys were smashing balls all spring training,” O’Hearn said. “It speaks to the organization, and how they bring in the right guys, the hitting staff and how they develop guys. It’s pretty impressive the amount of depth we have.”
Notes:. Danny Coulombe, who hasn’t pitched since Tuesday, is out because of illness. … Henderson’s home run had an exit velocity fo 113.8 mph, the hardest hit by an Oriole this season. He has had three straight multi-hit games. … The Orioles are off on Monday and open a three-game season against Toronto on Tuesday. … The eight-run margin of victory was their largest since a 10-2 win in Toronto on June 16th, 2022.
Minor league update: Third baseman Terrin Vavra hit his second home runs as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7-4.
Erie beat Double-A Bowie, 5-2. Leftfielder John Rhodes had two hits.
Leftfielder Jud Fabian had four hits and drove in five runs in High-A Aberdeen’s 8-3 win over Asheville. Fabian hit his ninth home run and second baseman Luis Valdez had three hits.
Designated hitter Trendon Craig had three hits in Single A Delmarva’s 7-3 loss to Down East.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions this week. Please send yours to: [email protected].