Thrilling rally in Baltimore: 'You need to watch out for the Orioles'

July 24th, 2022

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles left Camden Yards following Friday night’s loss not just wanting more, but believing they should have seized it. Their patented comeback gene had fallen just short, a late homer injecting life into a ballpark learning how to believe.

Patience was awarded a night later.

In another one of their many Game of the Year candidates, Baltimore rebounded in a multitude of ways for a 6-3 win over the Yankees on Saturday, scoring all their runs in unanswered fashion and five in their final two frames. They were not just down 3-0 come the fifth inning, but doing so on the heels of a gut-punching loss to New York a night prior.

Such a turnaround continues to breathe life into the excitement building in Baltimore.

"These guys are special. These guys are fun to watch,” starter Jordan Lyles said after gritting through five innings of three-run ball. “... Man, you need to watch out for the Orioles."

Saturday’s win, however modest its result was in simply restoring the Orioles to a .500 record, was emphatic in its style as much as its storytelling. Consider Lyles, insisting on returning for the fifth inning despite already sitting at 88 pitches. Or consider five hits from the bottom two spots in the lineup, Ramón Urías and Jorge Mateo combining for the most impactful moments.

And then consider what it resulted in: Adley Rutschman and Jorge López meeting on the mound for their now-patented victory hug. It was a display for the 36,361 on hand, Baltimore’s largest crowd for something other than a home opener since 2018.

“We don't have many easy wins,” said manager Brandon Hyde, “and we don't have many losses where we're out of it. We do a nice job of staying in the game and battling back. Just shows you the fight in the guys in the clubhouse.”

The Orioles are aware of the dynamism their lineup can tout, but the issue has been getting it in action. Jorge Mateo is such a poster child, leading the American League with 23 steals but getting on base at just a .261 clip. Get him on base, and let him eat.

Just watch the seventh inning.

That’s when Saturday was won. Showing bunt for two quick strikes against Gerrit Cole, Mateo then pulled back to bloop a single to right-center and score Urías, tying the game. To the delight of the Orioles’ dugout, he took third base on an errant pickoff throw to first base. It helps that he’s thinking about second base “immediately” when he touches first.

With what Hyde tabbed an 80-grade speed, Mateo was able to easily score on Cedric Mullins’ sac fly that traveled just 289 feet -- well within assist distance for center fielder Aaron Judge.

“I told [third-base coach Tony Mansolino], ‘I don't think you're ever going to get anybody here, the rest of your career, get to you faster at third base,’” Hyde quipped. “He is a game-changer on the bases.”

And then there was the insurance, no more fitting than from Urías. His three-hit night -- none bigger than his two-run homer in the eighth -- continued a revelation, now hitting .404/.440/.723 (1.163 OPS) with three doubles, four long balls and 16 RBIs in his 14 games since returning from an oblique injury, reaching base in all but one.

“Sneaky power,” Hyde said.

The Orioles are winning in a laundry list of ways. When they lose, it’s not nearly the blowouts they experienced much of the past four seasons. The ways in which they win come from across the lineup, from a bullpen that has been one of the best in the Majors after being the worst a year ago, from the energy Baltimore is beginning to feed them.

Two statistics stick out: Their run differential is just -5 compared to -297 a year ago. With that, the 2021 team won their 47th game in their 146th attempt. This ’22 team just won it in their 94th.

Watch out for the Orioles?

“I think these teams know,” Hyde said pregame. “Talking with other coaches and other players on other clubs -- I mean, I think we’re a tough team to play.”