Mateo's return and 5 pitchers lift Orioles to their 5th straight win, 4-0 over Braves - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Mateo’s return and 5 pitchers lift Orioles to their 5th straight win, 4-0 over Braves

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? After a difficult eight-game road trip to Toronto and Tampa Bay, the Orioles returned home for a challenging six-home stand aginst two of baseball’s best teams, the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.

The Orioles began the homestand with their fifth straight win, 4-0 over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. The Orioles are 44-22 and remain 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East.

Albert Suárez and four relievers combined on a five-hit shutout, and Jorge Mateo, who was activated from the 7-day concussion injured list, hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat against one of the major’s best starters, Max Fried.

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“He’s provided a spark for us all year, everything he’s done,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “The speed, the defense, he’s played really well this year.”

Before the game, the Orioles placed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe on the 15-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. To replace him on the roster, right-hander Bryan Baker was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

How important is to have Mateo back? Mateo has been vital to the Orioles’ success, and he started at shortstop as Gunnar Henderson was given a day off.

He got a handful of at-bats [Monday] in Sarasota and then comes out tonight, and hits a breaking ball against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game,” Hyde said about Mateo’s home run.

Austin Hays had been monitoring Mateo’s progress and wasn’t surprised by his successful return.

“He’s another guy that does everything the right way,” Hays said. “He prepares the right way, so I had every expectation that he was going to come out and have a good game.”

Mateo was injured on June 2nd when Cedric Mullins’ bat hit him in the back of the batting helmet when the two were in the on-deck circle and Mullins didn’t realize Mateo was there. Mateo went on the 7-day concussion list the next day.

“I started feeling better the very next day and two to three days after that, I really started to feel a lot better,” Mateo said through an interpreter. “It was really something unexpected, and I think when it happened, my head was hurting a lot, but that was really the extent of it for the most part.”

Mateo was looking for a curveball from Fried.

“I was just really trying to put the ball in play in that count,” he said. “Early in the count, I was sitting on certain pitches, but in that spot with an 0-2 count, I was just trying to put the ball in play.”

Does Suárez continue to impress? Suárez allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out six while improving his record to 3-0. His ERA is 1.61.

“That’s what he’s done almost every time, if not every time he’s taken the ball, just a professional effort,” Hyde said about the 34-year-old right-hander. “I thought he didn’t have his best command with his fastball. He had a good changeup tonight. The cutter keeps them off balance. He’s got enough life to his fastball to mix well.

“I think steady is a great word for him. The heart rate doesn’t vary very much. He’s always in control. He’s never too up, he’s never too down. He pitches like a veteran pitcher where he’s not afraid of the moment.”

Is Hays returning to form? Hays had three hits, and he’s hitting .347 since returning from the 10-day injured list on May 13th.  After he was hit in the ribs by a pitch in the ninth inning on Thursday in Toronto, Hays didn’t start any of the games at Tampa Bay but did get a ninth-inning double on Saturday.

“I had the few days of rest because of the ribs,” Hays said. ”You kind of rest your body when you’re nursing something like that.”

Hays’ most important contribution was catching a fly ball to deep left field by Seth Murphy with runners on first and second and one out in the second.

“I thought that ball was gone,” Suárez said. “He hit it to the right part of the park in left field. I think in the other 29 different ballparks, that’s a home run. I’m glad we were playing at home today.”

Hays was in the right place at the right time for Murphy’s drive.

“I was just trying to get back there. I checked the wind before, and I thought the wind was blowing out,” Hays said. “It seemed like that ball kind of died, so I was just trying to get back to the wall and find it, and sure enough I still had some room, so I’m glad with everything that was going on with the wind, it held it in a little bit.”

What did Hyde think about Norby? Connor Norby was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk when Mateo was activated.

“I thought he did a great job,” Hyde said. “That was a cool experience for him. I think he’s going to be a lot better for it, get a taste of the big leagues like that. On that road trip, two tough places to play. He saw us play winning baseball in six of the eight games and one-run losses in the other two.

“I thought he swung the bat well. I thought he fit in outstanding and I thought it was an unbelievable experience for him and you never know, you may see him again soon.”

Why did Henderson get his 1st day off? Henderson played in the Orioles’ first 65 games before Hyde gave him a day off on Tuesday night.

“This was kind of a planned deal for a little while,” Hyde said. “He plays eight games on turf and played every game so far. We got in in the middle of the night last night and I thought it was a good day to give him a little bit of a break.

“He’s been playing so, so well and so hard. Had just an unbelievable season up until this point. To give him a little bit of a break in the stretch that we’re in felt like it was appropriate.”

What’s the word? “Every time we go out there, we have all the confidence that we’re going to be able to win that game. These past couple of weeks, that’s how it’s been. We’ve been confident every time we’ve stepped on the field.”-Mateo on how the Orioles have been playing

What does it mean? After eight games on artificial turf and an early-morning arrival, it was impressive that the Orioles played another complete game in beating a formidable opponent.

What’s the stat of the day? 22. The Orioles are 44-22, and 22 games over .500 for the first time this season. After 66 games last season, they were 42-24.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Jonathan Heasley (0-1) allowed two runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings as Norfolk lost to Memphis, 4-1. Third baseman Nick Maton hit his sixth home run.

Alex Pham (3-1) allowed two hits in six scoreless innings as Double-A Bowie beat Harrisburg, 2-1. The Baysox limited the Senators to just three hits. Centerfielder Jud Fabian hit his 10th home run.

Rightfielder Tavian Josenberger hit his third home run in High-A Aberdeen’s 5-2 loss to Hickory.

Starter Braxton Bragg allowed two hits in four scoreless innings as Single-A Delmarva lost to Kannapolis, 6-2.

Outfielder Matthew Etzel was promoted from Aberdeen to Bowie. Infielder Max Wagner was removed from the game with back discomfort.

The IronBirds added right-handed pitchers Logan Rinehart and Peter Van Loon, who had been on injury rehab in the Florida Complex League and infielder Noelberth Romero.

What’s next? Left-hander Cade Povich (0-1, 10.13) will face right-hander Spencer Schwellenbach (0-2, 8.38) on Wednesday night at 6:35. It will be Povich’s second major league start and first at home.

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

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