2 Years ago, Rutschman's arrival changed the Orioles; Kremer allows 5 runs in 6-3 loss to Cardinals - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

2 Years ago, Rutschman’s arrival changed the Orioles; Kremer allows 5 runs in 6-3 loss to Cardinals

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY Sports

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Two years ago, Adley Rutschman played his first major league game, and the Orioles have never been the same.

Since Rutschman joined the Orioles on May 21st, 2022, they’ve never been swept in a regular-season series and have a 186-124 record in games he’s played.

That streak actually preceded Rutschman’s arrival—by two days.

On May 19th, the Orioles, who had lost six straight games, three in Detroit to the lowly Tigers and the first three of a four-game series with the Yankees, defeated New York, 9-6, on Anthony Santander’s ninth-inning home run.

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That started the sweepless streak, and the next night Rougned Odor hit a two-run, ninth-inning home run to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-6.

So, the sweepless streak was technically two nights before Rutschman became an Oriole.

In Rutschman’s time with the Orioles, they’ve avoided sweeps in 104 additional series, and their 106 regular-season series without being swept is the third longest in major league history.

After their 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday night, they’ll need to win one of the two remaining games of the series to keep the streak alive.

The Orioles trail only the 1942-1944 Cardinals, who avoided sweeps in 124 straight series, and the 1906-1909 Chicago Cubs, sweepless in 116 consecutive series.

In order to break the record, they’ll need to avoid sweeps for an additional two-plus months.

Interestingly, the Orioles didn’t begin winning immediately when Rutschman joined the team.

Their streak reached seven in the same series the Orioles fell to 11 games below .500, 24-35, and though the Orioles soon got hot and won 10 straight games, their longest winning streak in 23 years, they didn’t touch .500 until July 12th, and didn’t clear the break-even mark for good until August 1st, the day that Trey Mancini was traded to the Houston Astros.

All-Star closer Jorge López would be traded the next day, but by then, it was clear that Rutschman, who would finish second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, was something special.

The Orioles lost Rutschman’s first game, 6-1, and his first hit was a triple. It’s probably been long forgotten, but Rutschman didn’t get an RBI in his first 20 games, and was batting just .176 before things got better.

While Kyle Bradish was an Oriole for a few weeks before Rutschman, his arrival truly signaled the new era for the Orioles.

Gunnar Henderson didn’t join the team until August 31st, and it wasn’t until the first week of the 2023 season that Grayson Rodriguez debuted. Jordan Westburg and Colton Cowser came later, and by the time they came, it was clear that this was an excellent team.

Rutschman is so valuable that manager Brandon Hyde usually keeps him in the lineup even when he’s not catching. In 2023, Rutschman played 154 games, and so far this year, he’s played all but two. He’s been the Orioles’ designated hitter 16 times this year and has caught in three consecutive games only once.

While Henderson and his 3.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is ahead of Rutschman and his 2.1, it’s clear that both could receive serious Most Valuable Player consideration this season.

It’s not always easy to pinpoint a single moment when a team changes direction, but in this case, it is. The Orioles became a different and much better team two years ago today when Rutschman joined it and immediately took charge.

Fans quickly got used to seeing Rutschman meet the pitcher at the end of each inning for a quick review, good job or pep talk. Now, it’s hard to imagine the Orioles without it.

What was wrong with Kremer? Pitching for the first time in eight days, Dean Kremer allowed five runs on six hits in four innings in the Orioles’ 6-3 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night in St. Louis.

Kremer (3-4) needed 86 pitches to get through four innings. While there’s been speculation about a blister hampering Kremer’s delivery and grumbling about the inconsistent strike zone of home plate umpire Laz Diaz, he looked as if the extra rest robbed him of his normal sharpness.

It was his second straight loss. On May 12th, he allowed six runs, three unearned, in 5 2/3 innings of a 9-2 loss to Arizona. He did equal his season high with 10 strikeouts. Against the Cardinals, Kremer struck out just two.

With the return of Grayson Rodriguez and four offdays in the last two weeks, including a rainout on May 14th, the starters have had to adjust to unwanted additional rest.

That shouldn’t be an issue in the coming weeks. Between Friday and July 1st, the Orioles have just two offdays, and the six starters will come in handy.

Kremer allowed a three-run home run to Michael Siani, who had a four-RBI night. In Siani’s first 58 major league games, he had just two RBIs.

What was wrong with the Orioles offense? Sonny Gray, who had a 4.58 earned-run average in 14 previous starts against the Orioles, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Shortstop Masyn Winn committed consecutive errors, one of Cedric Mullins’ pop fly to short left and another on a possible double-play grounder by Jorge Mateo to start the sixth.

Gunnar Henderson homered for the fourth consecutive game — his major league-leading 16th — which temporarily cut the St. Louis lead to 5-3, but the Orioles had just one other scoring opportunity.

Ryan O’Hearn and Jordan Westburg singled with one out in the sixth, but Anthony Santander flied to left and Ryan Mountcastle grounded to third.

The three hits by the Orioles matched a season low. It was the sixth time this season that the Orioles had just three hits, and they’ve lost all six games.

After the game, manager Brandon Hyde told reporters in St. Louis that the Orioles were undisciplined at the plate, chasing pitches out of the strike zone. He said the Orioles will need better plate discipline against pitchers with Gray’s command.

What’s happening in the standings? The Orioles were unable to take advantage of a rare off-night by Yankees closer Clay Holmes, who allowed four runs to the Seattle Mariners in the ninth. New York lost, 5-4, and remain two games ahead of the Orioles (29-16) in the American League East.

What’s next? Bradish (0-0, 2.63) will start against Lance Lynn (1-2, 4.17) on Tuesday night at 7:45 p.m. In Bradish’s third major league start, he struck out 11 Cardinals on May 10th, 2022.

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