O's eclipse '21 win total on Mateo's big night

Shortstop homers twice, drives in 5 to back 6 1/3 stellar innings from Lyles in Texas

August 3rd, 2022

ARLINGTON -- The Orioles had two real options following Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline. The easy path would have been to sulk, disappointed that the front office traded two of their biggest clubhouse leaders in Trey Mancini and Jorge López despite being alive in the postseason hunt. Or they could rally, take another hard-handed reality and try to defy the odds laid out for them.

They’re undefeated when taking the latter route.

Carried by Jorge Mateo’s first career multi-homer effort and Jordan Lyles’ gritty outing, the Orioles secured a series victory over the Rangers with an 8-2 win at Globe Life Field on Tuesday. The victory -- an emotional one for the second night in a row -- pushed Baltimore (53-51) within 1 1/2 games of the third and final American League Wild Card spot, as the O's eclipsed their win total from a year ago in 58 fewer games.

“I think they're rallying around each other a little bit. It's been a tough couple days,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We've talked a little bit as a team, and like the way our energy level is staying really high in the dugout, it's still a really good atmosphere. We played great the last couple of days.”

It’s not that the Orioles are energized by the departures of Mancini and López. Far from it. But the identity they’ve carved for themselves this season is one they feel can withstand even the largest of blows.

"It's difficult seeing two of our guys go, but we understand at the end of the day, it's a business and it's going to happen,” Mateo said through an interpreter. "Right now, we feel like a family. This group is super united."

Mateo led the way Tuesday, collecting a career-high five RBIs. His first homer, a 408-foot three-run blast to left field, forced Rangers catcher Meibrys Viloria to simply hang his head in desolate acknowledgement.

It helped that Tuesday's starting pitcher was Lyles, the "No. 1 Dad" leading the self-described family. Another veteran who was a candidate to be traded before the Deadline, Lyles instead turned in another prolonged outing. He returned to the mound at 94 pitches in the seventh to try to squeeze out another inning, recording an additional out and exiting after 110 pitches. Lyles allowed only one run and struck out seven.

The Orioles, like they’ve done all season, admired the effort. They opted not to move their only starter who’s pitched every turn through the rotation, a decision met favorably around the clubhouse. He’s rewarded them by throwing 124 2/3 innings, which rank 15th in the Majors.

“He's been the one guy all year long that has just been an anchor in our rotation and given so many guys a breather,” Hyde said. “Glad we kept him.”

With 12 years of big league experience, Lyles has been a part of numerous Deadlines in his career. In 2019, he was traded from Pittsburgh to Milwaukee. Internally, there was little worry from him on Tuesday. Truthfully, he’s learned there’s little benefit in even allowing such thoughts to creep in.

But not many in the Orioles’ young clubhouse have his extensive history. They’ve learned on the fly.

“Wins and losses take care of a lot of things,” Lyles said. “But on the emotional side, I don't think I've seen any guys holding their heads down or mad or sad or pouting or anything like that. We're all professionals.”

Ignorance might be bliss. The O's, already a ragtag bunch entering the season, are now far more so. To date, the label has suited them, with their penchant for comebacks and walk-off wins. They have rookies abound -- Adley Rutschman doubled twice on Tuesday, while Terrin Vavra reached base four times and Yusniel Diaz came off the bench for his MLB debut. Their youth will now look to continue to carry them.

“I don't think our guys are going to back down,” Hyde said. “Today is a tough day, [Monday] was tough as well. And our guys came out and played their butts off for nine innings. I don't expect anything less for the rest of the way.”

“We keep showing up. We've got a good team still,” Lyles added. “We showcased that the last two nights.”