The month of May was supposed to be the litmus test for the young and improved Baltimore Orioles. Taking on three first place teams and two other teams expected to be Wild Card contenders, the Orioles are proving quickly that they are the real deal.
Between strong starting pitching, timely hitting and clutch defense, the Orioles dropped Toronto to the cellar in the AL East and cemented their hold on second place.
Between Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O’Hearn and Cedric Mullins, the Orioles showed the Blue Jays that there is fight throughout the lineup night in and night out.
Let’s see how the games unfolded as the Orioles took the series from Toronto, sweeping them in their house.
Game 1: O’s 6, TOR 2
Kyle Gibson showed once again why the Orioles signed him this offseason. Showing up when it matters, eating innings when needed and using his knowledge to shut down the big bats helped the O’s save most of their bullpen.
Gibson led the way, pitching seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks. He was aided by a double play and an outfield assist while striking out five.
Home runs by Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Adam Friazer accounted for the runs, as the offense pounded out seven total hits and five walks on the night.
Mountcastle continued his assault on Toronto and pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. Against Kikuchi, Mounty is now 5-for-10 with four homers and 10 RBIs. He also has an OPS of 1.030 in 43 games against Toronto.
The Orioles improved to 13-2 in series openers, taking this one by a score of 6-2.
Game 2: O’s 6, TOR 5 – 10 innings
The middle game was set to match up two of the game’s youngest and brightest pitchers. Grayson Rodriguez and Alek Monoah were set to battle it out to see who would one up the other.
Rodriguez showed how he was maturing as he made his ninth career start. Firing five innings, Rodriguez gave up four hits and two earned runs while striking out six.
The hero of the game, though, was Ryan O’Hearn, who collected four RBIs, three on a clutch home run in the eighth to tie the game off Jordan Romano, who blew his third save opportunity.
From there, Yennier Canó and Félix Bautista (3-1) shut it down, and the Orioles won on Austin Hays’ RBI single in the 10th. The Orioles secured the series victory and dropped Toronto to the AL East basement.
Game 3: O’s 8, TOR 3 – 11 innings
The Orioles entered Sunday needing a strong start, as the bullpen would be without both Canó and Bautista. In a game that showed manager Brandon Hyde has a grasp on this team, the bullpen was stretched to the end, the bench was emptied and every player needed to chip in whether defensively, offensively or on the mound.
A gritty performance from Dean Kremer gave the Orioles a chance, and they seized the opportunity. Kremer pitched 5.1 innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out seven in one of his guttiest performances of the year.
The defense turned three double plays, Mike Baumann picked off a batter before throwing his first pitch and the offense was 7-for-18 with RISP in this back-and-forth finale.
Cedric Mullins played the hero this game, collecting five hits, three RBIs and a stolen base (he was caught stealing for the first time as well). For the series, Mullins was 7-for-15, including a home run, two runs, four RBIs and a stolen base.
After trading runs in the 10th inning, the Birds would score five runs in the 11th, and Michael Baumann (3-0), pitching for the fifth time in eight days, picked up the win after tossing 1.2 innings.
The Orioles would win, 8-3, completing the sweep and extending their winning streak to four games while prolonging the Blue Jays’ losing streak to four.
The BATTERY ❌-FACTOR went beyond a specific player or group. Instead, it focused solely on the often-criticized skipper of the O’s, Brandon Hyde.
With such a big series, especially with an AL East Rival, this set showed how shrewd Hyde can be and how confident he is for his players to come through in clutch situations.
From utilizing the bullpen to clinch the first two games, using the bench in the late innings when needed most in the final game, Hyde showed that he has the grit to lead this team and put them in positions to win, even when they were expected not to.
The Orioles improved to 12-7 on the month where five of their six opponents have been over .500, with three of them in first place. The O’s improved to 31-16 on the season and cemented their hold on second place in the AL East, as well as the second best record in all of baseball.
After a much-needed day off on Monday, the Orioles will head to New York for a three-game series against another AL East rival, the New York Yankees.
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