Rutschman's grand game, Mullins' 2 hits, Rodriguez's mastery carry Orioles to 9-2 win over Rays - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Rutschman’s grand game, Mullins’ 2 hits, Rodriguez’s mastery carry Orioles to 9-2 win over Rays

Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seeback

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—What happened? Adley Rutschman drove in six runs and hit his second grand slam of the season, Cedric Mullins broke out of an 0-for-25 slump with two hits, and Grayson Rodriguez was perfect through five innings to pace the Orioles to a 9-2 win win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

It was the Orioles’ third straight win in the four-game series, which will wrap up Monday night. The Orioles have won 13 of their last 17.

“We’re playing just really sound baseball,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve been getting good starting pitching. Our bullpen has been incredible, especially on this trip. We’ve played good defense almost the entire year. We’re pretty balanced offensively. So, all around good team right now.”

Rutschman had RBI singles in the third and seventh before his eighth-inning grand slam, which gave the Orioles their seven-run lead.

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“I think Adley is one of the first guys you want up in any situation,” Hyde said. “With just the at-bats he takes … He can really hit. You’re always happy when he’s up at the plate.”

Mullins singled in the fifth and tripled and scored on Rutschman’s single in the seventh.

“Great to see him have some good at-bats today,” said Hyde, who is determined to get Mullins past a prolonged slump.

Outfielders Austin Hays, who has a sore rib, and Kyle Stowers, who has a sore wrist, were not in the lineup.  Hyde said that he hopes both are available on Monday night.

Hyde also said that infielder Jorge Mateo will not come off the 7-day concussion injured list on Monday but could be activated on Tuesday night when the Orioles begin a three game series with Atlanta.

How was Rodriguez’s start? Rodriguez faltered in the sixth after retiring the first 15 Tampa Bay hitters. He allowed two runs on two hits, walking one and striking out six.

In previous start on June 3rd in Toronto, Rodriguez gave up two runs, one unearned, on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four without walking a batter.

“Just carried over from his last start in Toronto, really,” Hyde said. “Not trying to just totally overpower guys, but really pitching and using the fastball, commanding it and really good secondary stuff when he would get ahead.

“Was in total, complete command for almost six innings. Just the maturation process and him developing as a major league starter, you’re really starting to see it … The last two starts have been unbelievable.”

Hyde wanted Rodriguez to get through six innings, but he was laboring.

“I wish I could have pitched deeper into that game,” Rodriguez said. “Started off pretty good. Didn’t finish it the way I wanted to. I just wanted to keep the bullpen out of it for a little longer.”

In the sixth, Taylor Walls walked, and after two outs, Yandy Diaz and Brandon Lowe singled before Rodriguez was removed for Dillon Tate.

“I was obviously kind of cruising through the first part of the game,” Rodriguez said. “Lost the zone a little bit there in the sixth, but still searching for it there at the end. I think that’s what led to the baserunners. Next time, definitely I’m going to try to be in the zone a little bit better at the end of the outing.”

“I thought he was attacking the zone really well,” Rutschman said. “He was using all of his pitches effectively in zone and really good two-strike pitches as well. In the sixth inning, a little bit of unluckiness there.”

What’s the latest on Mullins? Mullins has been working to get out of his slump, and it’s going to take more days like Sunday.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “Being that it’s a long season, it is a matter of getting your mind right. Once you feel like your mechanics are in sync for the most part, it’s a matter of getting that mental down, [not] trying to put too much on yourself and go out there and play your game.

“I feel like some of the adjustments I’ve made came in today. I’ve had some good swings that just didn’t fall. It was nice to see it hit some grass, hit some dirt and get through.”

Once Mullins got his first hit, the second one was easier.

“Solid contact, that in general frees me up a little bit,” Mullins said. “Making progress towards consistent barrel felt good.”

“Everyone knows it’s just a matter of time,” Rutschman said of Mullins. “He looks really good at the plate. It was nice to see some of those fall today.”

What does a hitting coach think about Mullins? Co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller lauded Mullins’ work ethic before the game.

“It goes without saying that he’s in the cage working hard every day,” Fuller said. “He’s out there for early hitting, and you want it to be one day that ignites it. When you’re going through a tough stretch, there’s no promises of how long or how short it’s going to take.

“It’s one of those things you keep grinding at it and when you go into that cave when it’s dark, you don’t know how long you’re going to be in there. It makes you look at things a little bit differently, If you stay in there long enough, you’re usually going to find that light that comes on in the other side. He’s in it right now. He’s working hard. We’re doing everything we can. Hopefully we get out there soon.”

Fuller says slumps are physical and mental.

“It would be easy to go in and say: ‘Here’s what’s wrong with your swing.’ We have all the tools to look at his swing and say: ‘Here’s when it was going well, here’s when you’re off.

“The mental component is huge. You want these guys to have confidence, but it’s hard to have confidence when you’re not having results. The best way to get that confidence back is to take action every day and prove it every day until it shows up on the field.”

What does it mean? Rutschman’s consistency has been overlooked this season. He’s hitting .306 with 13 home runs, 49 RBIs and an .834 OPS.

What’s the word? “I think the confidence the guys have this year. You can see it in their presence on the mound. I think that’s something that’s cool to see from our end because guys are throwing with confidence. They know that their stuff plays in the big leagues. It makes my job easier and a lot more fun.”-Rutschman on the Orioles’ starters

What’s the stat of the day? 107. Rodriguez threw a career-high 107 pitches.

“Confidence is high right now,” Rodriguez said. “As long as you can go out there and just get outs, I think you’re put in a pretty good chance to win, and thankful for the offense that we have and the defense that those guys play as well.”

What’s going on in the minor leagues? In his first start for Triple-A Norfolk, Julio Teheran allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings as the Tides lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 12-11, in 10 innings. Teheran, who was signed to a minor league contract, allowed two home runs, struck out four and walked four. Outfielder Daniel Johnson had four hits.

Four Double-A Bowie pitchers held Binghamton to three hits in the Baysox’s 3-2 win over the Rumble Ponies. Seth Johnson started and allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings. Ryan Hennen (3-2) pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings. Lincoln Henzman threw 1 1/3 hitless innings and Dylan Heid allowed a hit in 1 2/3 innings and recorded his fourth save. First baseman Dylan Beavers and catcher Silas Ardoin homered.

First baseman Creed Willems drove in three runs and second baseman Mac Horvath homered and drove in two runs as High-A Aberdeen beat Brooklyn, 7-6.

Shortstop Leandro Arias homered and drove in three runs as Single-A Delmarva beat Lynchburg 8-4.

What’s next? Corbin Burnes (6-2, 2.26) will face Ryan Pepiot (4-2, 3.96) in the final game of the four-game series on Monday night at 6:50.

Call for questions: Most weekdays, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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