Orioles end 5-game losing streak behind Rodriguez's start and homers by Henderson, Mullins and O'Hearn - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles end 5-game losing streak behind Rodriguez’s start and homers by Henderson, Mullins and O’Hearn

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred USA TODAY Sports


BALTIMORE-What happened? After a five-game losing streak, Grayson Rodriguez gave the Orioles what they needed — a quality start. The 24-year-old right-hander held the Cleveland Guardians to two runs on five hits in seven innings in a 4-2 Orioles win. He brought an end to Cleveland’s seven-game winning streak.

Gunnar Henderson, Cedric Mullins and Ryan O’Hearn homered. Mullins’ home run, just his second since April 26th, came leading off the Orioles’ seventh, landed on Eutaw Street and gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. O’Hearn’s homer made it 4-2 in the eighth. Henderson had delivered the first two runs on a single and a home run.

“It’s been a tough road for us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Gunnar with a huge homer. O’Hearn did a good job swinging the bat when we needed it. Nice to see Ced, really contributing, swinging the bat these last couple of weeks.”


Rodriguez didn’t walk a batter and struck out four. Interestingly, it was the final four batters he faced. He allowed home runs to Cleveland rookie Jhonkensy Noel and Gabriel Arias. It was Noel’s first major league at-bat.

How good was Rodriguez? The Orioles had gone eight games without a quality start before Rodriguez’s seven innings, equaling his longest start of the season. He didn’t walk a batter, only the second time he’s done that, and struck out four.

In Rodriguez’s previous start, he allowed seven runs on nine hits in five-plus innings in a 14-11 loss to the Astros.

“That was a great start. Back on track, had a little hiccup in Houston, pitched like he did in the couple of starts before that,” Hyde said. “Once again, just learning how to pitch. The changeup got better. I thought he was executing well, getting ahead of hitters … Outstanding job going seven innings for us.

“Executing pitches early in the count can get you weak ground balls, weak outs. He did that tonight. He did a great job of changing speeds. His fastball had good life. I thought he had all four pitches working.”

Cleveland scored 10 runs on Tuesday night, and Rodriguez was expecting an aggressive opponent.

“I knew they were going to swing the bat,” Rodriguez said. “They’re a good two-strike team. I wasn’t expecting a lot of strikeouts coming into it. I was going to, hopefully, use that to my advantage. Pitching seven innings, we had a good plan.”

The five-game losing streak was the longest for many of the younger Orioles.

“We had some unlucky breaks for us over the last week,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t think we’ve struggled all that much.”

Mullins got only one putout and admired Rodriguez’s work.

“Loved what I saw out of him, just his competitiveness, continued to grind,” Mullins said. “That’s what we needed. That’s what he gave.”

What did Mullins see in the losing streak? Mullins is one of the veterans who experienced 14- and 19-game losing streaks in 2021, but ending a five-game skid was important, especially with the Orioles nearing completion of a month in which they’ve had only one day off.

“It’s huge. In the midst of where we are right now with the schedule, some guys are beat up, some guys are tired,” Mullins said. “It’s a matter of trying to push through that. We’ve got some rest days coming, but we can’t stop.

“We’ve come accustomed to being a winning culture in the clubhouse. Even with skids like this, it’s a matter of taking one day at a time, ready to win.”

Mullins’ experience with winning and long losing streaks helps him put difficult times into context.

“That definitely goes into play,” he said. “When you’ve got some guys that feel down when you’re in this skid, experiencing losing, really losing, definitely keeps a positive outlook on things, and we’re able to turn it around.”

How does Kimbrel stay sharp with extra rest? Unlike many closers, Craig Kimbrel doesn’t need work in lopsided games to keep him sharp. Kimbrel last pitched on June 19th in an Orioles 7-6 win in 10 innings over the Yankees.

“He’s been doing this for so long that he knows how to stay ready,” Hyde said.

He struck out three and walked one, recording his 17th save. He’s one behind Boston’s Kenley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time saves list with 434. Francisco Rodriguez is fourth with 437.

Why do the Guardians give the Orioles a hard time? Cleveland won two of three in this series, and since the Orioles began winning in 2022, the Guardians are 9-7 against them.

“It’s been a good team for a while now,” Hyde said. “That bullpen is one of the best in the game if not the top three or one. It’s a really tough team to score against late in the game. They got a top three closer [Emmanuel Classe] that’s been doing it for a while now. He’s unbelievably durable, and he’s throwing 102 mph cutters last night. It makes it challenging. :

“They do a great job of player development. José Ramirez is one of the best players in the game on both sides of the field … It’s a pitching and defense, contact-oriented offense. When they get the lead, it’s tough to beat them. We haven’t played our best baseball against them the last few years, but it’s a really, really good team.”

What’s the word? “I’m running out of things to say about him … He’s doing everything.”-Hyde on Henderson, who extended his on-base streak to 33 consecutive games.

What does it mean? Rodriguez’s start was huge for a team that hadn’t had an excellent start since June 16th.

What’s the stat of the day? 7. O’Hearn’s home run was his 10th. There are seven Orioles with 10 or more home runs — Henderson, Anthony Santander, Adley Rutschman, Jordan Westburg, Ryan Mountcastle, Colton Cowser and O’Hearn.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Dean Kremer, who’s on the 15-day injured list with a strained right triceps muscle, will make a rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday. Tides starter Brandon Young (2-1) left Norfolk’s 6-4 loss to Charlotte after three innings because of illness. Young gave up four runs on two hits and four walks. Third baseman Coby Mayo hit his 16th home run.

Centerfielder Jud Fabian hit his 13th home run in Double-A Bowie’s 3-2 win over Reading.

Infielder Angel Tejada’s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave High-A Aberdeen a 3-1 win over Brooklyn. Four IronBirds pitchers held the Cyclones to four hits.

Single-A Delmarva’s game with Down East was suspended in the second inning and will be resumed as part of a doubleheader on Thursday.

Outfielder Donta’ Williams was transferred from Norfolk to Bowie.

What’s next? The defending World Series champion Texas Rangers, who eliminated the Orioles in three games in the Division Series, begin a four-game series against the Orioles on Thursday night. Corbin Burnes (8-3, 2.35) will face Jon Gray (3-3, 3.03).

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

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