BALTIMORE— After scoring just five runs in the last four games, all losses, and surrendering their four-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East, the Orioles recovered with a jolt on Saturday night.
Grayson Rodriguez threw eight scoreless innings, a career high, and the Orioles retook the division lead from the Rays with an 8-0 win before an announced crowd of 38,432 at Camden Yards.
With the win, the Orioles (92-56) won the season series from the Rays (92-58). They have a one-game lead over Tampa Bay, but if the teams finished tied in the standings, the season series win ensures that the Orioles would win the division.
“It’s big because we haven’t been swinging the bat very well the last four games,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
They also broke the four-game losing streak, which equaled their season high, and reduced their magic number for a postseason berth to one since Cleveland beat Texas, 2-1.
Though the Orioles have been preparing for the postseason for weeks, Hyde refuses to talk about them publicly.
“I’m not talking about it,” Hyde said. “I’m not saying a word.”
Hyde left it to Rodriguez, who pitched his best game in the major leagues.
“Everybody showed up ready to play ball,” Rodriguez said. “We hadn’t really run into a stretch like this. I don’t think you can really tell this from the guys. The attitudes didn’t change. Everybody was still confident in their ability to go out and win a baseball game.”
Rodriguez (6-4) allowed five hits, struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 21 starts.
Mike Baumann pitched a scoreless ninth as the Orioles registered their 10th shutout of the season.
Gunnar Henderson led off the bottom of the first with a single. Adley Rutschman walked. Both runners moved up on Tyler Glasnow’s wild pitch, and Henderson scored on Ryan O’Hearn’s single.
Ramon Urías singled with two outs in the second, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Adam Frazier’s single. Henderson followed with a two-run home run, and the Orioles led, 4-0.
“Every team goes through this at some point throughout the season,” Henderson said. “I feel like we really got on ourselves about it. Just got to play through it, and we came out in a big way tonight.”
Henderson’s single drove in Aaron Hicks, and Rutschman broke an 0-for-14 slump with a run-scoring single to give the Orioles a 6-0 lead after four.
“Definitely not a great time to lose four straight,” Henderson said. “We’re going to keep going out there and continuing to win and I feel like that will put us in a good position come the last game of the regular season.”
Rodriguez retired the first nine Tampa Bay batters. In the fourth, Wandy Diaz doubled and Randy Arozarena singled with one out. Josh Lowe hit into a double play.
“That game right there, it was just big on the defense,” Rodriguez said. “They came at me in there late. I know things got a little tight there a few times, and we got out of it with some nice double plays and some nice balls in the outfield.”
Curtis Mead singled with one out in the fifth, and Jonathan Aranda hit ball off the back of Rodriguez’s left leg for a base hit. Rodriguez struck out Olslevis Basabe, and René Pinto flied to right, ending the inning.
“A lot of adrenaline,” Rodriguez said of pitching in pain. “Me and Adley were laughing about it. I don’t now what the attendance was, but we were coming out of the bullpen, saying: ‘Let’s have some fun. There are 35, 40 thousand of our best friends here tonight. They kept me in the game, for sure.”
Glasnow (9-6) allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings, his shortest start of the season.
Cedric Mullins and Urías had RBI singles against Erasmo Ramirez in the fifth. The second run ended the streak of 34 innings without an earned run for Tampa Bay relievers.
In the sixth, Arozarena reached on an error by Urías at third and Josh Lowe singled with two outs. Henderson made a fine throw from the hole at shortstop to get Manuel Margot to end the inning.
“It was just another game,” Rodriguez said. “Just another regular-season game. Obviously not paying attention to the standings …. That’s not what we were looking for coming into this game. The real important games are going to be in October.”
Notes: Oriole starters have struck out 749 batters, the most in club history. Henderson scored two runs. He’s scored 91 runs, passing Cal Ripken Jr. (1982) for the most by an Oriole rookie. Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Chayce McDermott (back strain) and outfielder Daz Cameron (sprained finger) are on the injured list. … Dean Kremer (12-5, 4.23) will face Zack Littell (3-6, 4.25) on Sunday. … Kyle Stowers hit a two-run home run, his 15th, as Norfolk beat Memphis, 5-2. Cade Povich pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits. …The Orioles have now gone 87 consecutive series without being swept, fourth longest in baseball history.
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