Santander's 2 homers, Rodriguez's 7 innings carry Orioles to 6-2 win over Phillies on day they lose Bradish - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Santander’s 2 homers, Rodriguez’s 7 innings carry Orioles to 6-2 win over Phillies on day they lose Bradish

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? After an emotionally draining 5-3 loss in 11 innings to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night, the Orioles found out that starting pitcher Kyle Bradish, who left Friday’s game after five innings, was placed on the 15-day injured list with a sprain of the right ulnar collateral ligament.

They rebounded nicely on Saturday with a 6-2 win over the Phillies in front of another sellout crowd with thousands of Philadelphia fans.

“I didn’t know how we were going to respond,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Watching what happened with Kyle last night, obviously people are down and thinking about him and hoping for the best.”

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Anthony Santander homered twice and drove in four runs, and Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings to improve his record to 8-3.

“Grayson Rodriguez today, that was an amazing performance,” Hyde said. “He just continues to do what he’s done the last few starts, not walking people, great fastball command, just made a couple of mistakes on a couple of sliders. That’s a great lineup over there that he held in check for seven innings. Awesome job.”

How is it playing without key pitchers? The Orioles are without starters John Means, who had his second Tommy John surgery on June 3rd, Tyler Wells and now Bradish. Wells is out for the season, and the Orioles are waiting for more news on Bradish. They’re also missing left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe, who’s on the injured list with an elbow injury.

“I think this team is special,” Rodriguez said. “We’re always going to pick each other up. We’ve always got each other’s back. Cool thing about this club is so many of us played together in the minor leagues. We’ve known each other so long it’s almost like we’re family. I think a lot of other teams don’t have that. That’s our strongest asset here.”

Craig Kimbrel has played in the major leagues since 2010 and has seen teams survive seasons with multiple pitching injuries.

“I think anytime you have guys that are, I wouldn’t say penciled in, but we view them as big parts of this team and success of this team, I think you step back and you’re like: ‘Man, this is going to be tough.’ At the same time in the game of baseball, there are always guys who when things happen, opportunities open up for other guys.

“Guys start getting to pitch in situations they haven’t and you really get to see what guys are made of and if we have enough here … I think that’s a question … when you do start having guys going down, is: ‘Are we going to be able to keep it rolling or do we need to get more?’

“I think as long as we go out there and keep on playing good ball, I think all those questions will answer themselves.”

Santander acknowledges how difficult it is to play without frontline pitching.

“It’s painful. Losing those guys, we know what they can do to help us win games,” Santander said. “It’s something that’s out of our hands and we just need the next guy to step up and do the job, just keep going and keep winning games.

“They’re doing a good job. Pitching and defense always wins games. Hopefully, they can stay healthy through the whole season and keep doing the job.”

How is Santander’s June? In 15 games this month, Santander has eight home runs. Overall, he has 17 homers and has driven in 42 runs.

“I don’t know what’s happened, but I feel great when it’s hot,” Santander said. “I’m from Venezuela, and there it’s always 90s and 95. I wish it can be hot the whole year.”

Santander has made adjustments after a slow start.

“He’s on time with the heater [fastball],” Hyde said. “The homers, I think one was a split, one was offspeed. He’s getting those pitches because they can’t rush the heater up on him like they were doing early in the year. Last night, he was on top of a heater right-handed, but more on time with the fastball, and he’s buying some offspeed stuff in the middle of the plate, and he’s not missing it.”

How is Rodriguez improving? In his last three starts, Rodriguez has allowed five earned runs on 16 hits in19 1/3 innings.

He allowed runs in the first two innings, then gave up four hits in five scoreless innings.

“That’s a very momentum-driven team, and they obviously had it there in the first inning,” Rodriguez said. “Really trying to shut that down and limit the damage early. Trying to keep them out of the game.”

Hyde watched Rodriguez struggle early last season, and he’s enjoying the growth.

“This is a fun development story up here,” Hyde said. “You see him making huge strides, figuring things out, getting a little bit better every start. It’s not going to be like this every start, but he understands now, and he understands how to pitch. He’s just come a long, long way.”

What was the atmosphere like? The Orioles haven’t played before raucous crowds with lots of opposing fans in a long time, and they’ve reacted well.

“It felt like a playoff game. It was a pretty hostile environment,” Rodriguez said. “Having a lot of the Phillies fans here, that helped me a lot. Obviously, you want to see the stadium packed out in orange. There was some animosity in there. Man, it made pitching fun today. That was a fun game.”

Kimbrel, who struck out the side in the ninth, was with the Phillies in 2023, losing two playoff games. He couldn’t help but notice the presence of Phillies fans

“That’s not something you usually get in your home stadium,” Kimbrel said. “Phillies fans, they travel deep. They were here today and I definitely heard them.

“I was in Philadelphia all last year. I knew the fans would travel, especially being so close. I figured I’d get a nice reception as well,” he said sarcastically.

How’s Mullins doing? Very quietly, Cedric Mullins is heating up. He’s 5-for-13 in his last four games after enduring an 0-for-25 streak. Mullins made two outstanding catches in center field, diving to catch sinking liners by Bryson Stott to end the first and Brandon Marsh to begin the fifth.

“I’ve got to buy Ced a really big Christmas present,” Rodriguez said. “He was phenomenal out there. That’s one of the best centerfielders in the game. Any time you give up a hit in center field, you’re really not expecting a hit because you know he’s out there. Today, he really helped me in the beginning of the game.

“I wouldn’t have been in the game near as long without him out there today, that’s for sure.”

What are pitcher’s thoughts on Tommy John surgery? With so many pitchers having Tommy John surgery, Means was asked why they’ve increased. He’s now had two in just over two years.

“I don’t know if there’s one thing specifically. There’s a lot of factors,” Means said. “The velo’s up, and there’s more pitches per plate appearance. Mine’s kind of an anomaly. I throw 91, and the pitches don’t move a whole lot. I think mine’s pretty fixable.”

Orioles reliever Bryan Baker, who threw a spotless eighth, isn’t sure of the cause, either.

“It’s becoming more common, league-wide,” he said. “To be determined about the pitch clock. I think there’s probably something there as well. It stinks to see your buddies going through injuries. You do whatever you can to stay healthy.”

What does it mean? The Orioles continue to overcome obstacles, the loss of key pitchers, hostile visiting fans, and it can only help them in October.

What’s the word? “Baseball’s beautiful and horrifying at the same time.”-Means on the spate of arm injuries in baseball.

What’s the stat of the day? 15. The Orioles have homered in 15 straight games, their longest streak since a 18-game run from September 6th-24th, 2019. It’s also the longest streak in the majors this season.

What’s next? Corbin Burnes (7-2, 2.08) will face Zack Wheeler (8-3, 2.18) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. in the final games of the three-game series. The game is sold out.

Transactions: The Orioles recalled left-hander Nick Vespi from Triple-A Norfolk to replace Bradish on the 26-man roster. They also outrighted right-hander Corbin Martin to Norfolk after he passed through waivers.

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

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