Rout of AL East rival caps momentous day for Orioles

August 2nd, 2023

TORONTO -- Aug. 1, 2023, proved to be a milestone day for the Orioles in the era of general manager Mike Elias and manager Brandon Hyde.

The first time acting as buyers at the Trade Deadline. The first time improving their record to 25 games above .500. The first time winning a season series together vs. the Blue Jays.

There’s a good time being had during a special year in Baltimore, in case you hadn’t heard.

After landing right-hander Jack Flaherty in a deal with the Cardinals shortly before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, the Orioles kept the positive momentum going with another impressive victory over an AL East rival. Baltimore beat Toronto, 13-3, in a game in which , and combined for nine hits and 10 RBIs.

“I like the run differential. I’d like to start working on the run differential,” Hyde deadpanned. “It started tonight.”

It’s not often Baltimore has had the luxury of playing a non-nail-biter this year. Its wins typically feature plenty of tense moments, hence its 20-10 record in one-run games. But the Orioles did everything well in this blowout of the Blue Jays.

“We had great at-bats all night tonight, really happy with our offense,” Hyde said. “And our pitching -- and our defense. We played absolutely outstanding defense tonight.”

The O’s ability to do everything well is why they’re having success and why Elias was confident enough in this group to add to the big league roster -- and subtract from the farm system -- at the start of August for the first time since being hired in November 2018.

Baltimore (66-41) has emerged as the front-runner in the AL East with two months to go in the regular season, as it remains in first place, 1 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay. It has done so by beating up on its rivals in the toughest division in baseball, one that features five teams with winning records.

By taking the first two matchups of the four-game series in Toronto, the Orioles have ensured they’ll have gone 10 straight AL East series without losing any of them. They’re 21-9 in division contests over that span.

The O’s are 7-1 against the Blue Jays and 5-0 at Rogers Centre this season.

“It is amazing, right?” said Santander, who crushed a 403-foot grand slam in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. “We beat them, and we’ve got a great chance to win other games. Competing with those teams, for me, the hardest division in baseball, is huge.”

Santander continues to lead Baltimore in home runs (19). But for a brief period of time Tuesday, he was joined atop the club’s homer leaderboard by the rookie Henderson, who broke a 3-3 tie with a solo shot -- his 18th home run and his second in as many nights -- in the sixth.

A lot of the Orioles’ success can be attributed to Henderson, considering he positively impacts games with his potent bat and incredible glovework. The scary part? He’s only getting better.

“It’s fun to watch a guy just turning into what he’s turning into right now,” Hyde said.

And Henderson believes there are somehow still improvements that could be made to his game.

“I haven’t really felt like I’ve shown the whole package yet,” Henderson said. “I still feel like I’m getting going a little bit. I feel like I’m just now getting comfortable with everything and allowing my instincts to take over.”

Baltimore’s offensive onslaught backed another stellar outing by right-hander Kyle Bradish. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven over seven strong innings and gave up only four hits -- two of which were home runs that accounted for all three runs he allowed.

Bradish, who has pitched six or more innings in each of his past seven starts and eight of his past nine, understands the importance each time he takes the mound for an AL East tilt.

“We’re a confident team whenever we play anybody. But we know these division games have a little more pressure to them,” Bradish said. “Obviously, we’re in the hardest division in baseball, so we know we’ve got to show up, because the other team’s going to show up, too.”

The Orioles completed the Flaherty trade while Bradish was preparing for his start. So he didn’t find out about the news until he got back to his locker following the game.

How did one of Baltimore’s top starters feel when he heard the news of the addition to the club’s staff that began the organization’s all-around great day?

“I was fired up,” Bradish said. “I think he’s really going to help this rotation. He’s thrown the ball really good for as long as he’s been in the league, so I’ll be excited to pitch alongside him.”