The Tampa Bay Rays were in town for a three-game set, and if you wanted fireworks, surprises and the unexpected, this was the series to be at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
After completing back-to-back walk-off home runs Friday, for the first time since Manny Machado and Chris Davis did it back in August of 2015, the Orioles showed Tampa Bay that things wouldn’t be easy.
The 15-game losing streak to the Rays was over after Roughned Odor’s game one heroics ended a wild back-and-forth affair.
To usher in the new beginning, the Orioles made the announcement all of Birdland has been waiting for Saturday: Adley Rutschman would make his major league debut that night. A new era was officially beginning in Charm City.
Though not the game outcome we all wanted, Rutschman would triple and walk in his first game, a 6-1 setback in game two. The fans were happy with the top prospect in the game but definitely wanted a better final score.
Game three would not disappoint, as more heroics, a strong bullpen and a few mishaps by the Rays’ defense would open the door for a come-from-behind, 7-6, Orioles victory.
Of course, this would be aided by Rutschman scoring his first run, the game winner, and Odor hitting a fielder’s choice to give the game away.
The Baltimore Battery ❌-Factor going into the series was the O’s bullpen. Needing strong innings from them, they were tested each game and responded how we’ve expected them to all year.
In the series, the Baltimore bullpen would pitch 21 innings, allowing five runs (four earned). The pen picked up victories in two of the games, striking out 19 batters and walking only four.
The bullpen ERA for the series was 1.71 and was the difference in the Orioles winning two of three to end their home stand.
The bullpen was credited with 11 innings of work, after Spenser Watkins would leave game three with an injury. The pen would allow three runs (two earned) the rest of the way, as the Orioles would fight from behind to close the series with a victory and series win.
We can’t mention the bullpen without mentioning rookie 18th round pick, Nick Vespi, who made his major league debut in game one of the series.
Having not allowed an earned run in 12 appearances in Triple-A Norfolk this season, Vespi would pitch two innings with three strikeouts and would pick up his first victory, becoming only the fourth pitcher to make his debut in the 12th inning or later.
Vespi was sent down Saturday, along with fellow rookie Logan Gillaspie, to make room for Mike Baumann and the activation of Ryan Mountcastle.
The moment all fans waited for was Adley Rutschman making his way to OPACY. Catching his first game, he would collect his first hit in his third trip to the batters box.
Rutschman’s first hit went for a triple, as the former No. 1 overall pick joins former Orioles Matt Wieters and Manny Machado in having their first hits go for triples as well.
Rutschman would finish the series 2-for-8 (.250) with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and scoring his first run, the winner in Sunday’s affair.
This series could not be won without the heroics of swaggy veteran, Rougned Odor. One of the undisputed leaders of this young team, Odor went 4-for-12 (.333) with five RBIs for the series.
Of course, you have Odor’s walk-off homer Friday, but his two doubles and three RBIs Sunday were big moments in the series.
This series had heroics from Austin Hays’ pinch-hit game-tying single, Jorge Mateo defensive plays to halt Tampa’s offense and a gutsy performance from the Oriole bullpen the entire series.
Whether it was someone stepping up at the right moment or coming through the entire series, the Cardiac Birds have let the baseball world know they have arrived.
Adley Rutschman’s coming is just the beginning, and the rest of this season promises more fun times, more debuts and, of course, some games that will leave us holding our breath until the final out.
The Orioles (17-25) will now head to New York, where they shipped their rival the Yankees off with a walk-off victory Thursday afternoon.
What was your favorite moment of this series with Tampa Bay? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter! And make sure to use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content to show your Birdland swag!
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