Rookies shine, but O's Wild Card hopes take big hit

September 30th, 2022

BOSTON -- The Orioles came into Fenway Park on Monday in need of a hot streak to keep their postseason dreams alive. After taking the opener in dominant fashion, Baltimore lost its next three to fall five games behind the Rays for the third and final AL Wild Card spot.

Losing 5-3 to the Red Sox on Thursday, the Orioles dropped the season series (9-10) to Boston. Baltimore has not won a season series against Boston since going 10-9 vs. the club in 2017.

“I think we're right there,” said. “Our bullpen has kept us in games, and I think we're just that one swing away, that one at-bat away … from being on the winning end of pretty much all those games.”

With the O’s postseason hopes hanging on by a thread -- their elimination number is down to one -- here are some notable moments from the finale of an otherwise disappointing series in Boston.

Stowers delivers vs. right and left
In 95 at-bats against lefties at Triple-A Norfolk this year, Stowers crushed lefties, hitting .326/.430/.547 with a .977 OPS, 12 doubles, three homers and 19 RBIs.

Since making his big league debut, the left-handed hitter has just two plate appearances against lefties. His first resulted in a hit-by-pitch. On Tuesday night, manager Brandon Hyde pinch-hit Jesús Aguilar for Stowers in the fifth inning against left-handed reliever Matt Strahm, and Aguilar flied out to end the inning.

On Thursday, Stowers got his shot against Strahm. In just the second lefty-lefty matchup of his Major League career, Stowers went deep to tie the game at 3-3 in the seventh.

“I think just for the sake of the game, it was nice to come through and tie the game and give us an opportunity to keep that game going and put us in a position to score another run and win the game,” Stowers said. “As far as facing the lefty or facing the righty, I'm just trying to be ready for my opportunities whenever I get them, and I think whether it's righty or lefty, I believe in myself and I think that's really all there is to be said about that.”

“Love the result, great swing on it,” Hyde said of the matchup. “It's not that I don't like him against [lefties], it's just a lot of times we have guys who are swinging the bat well against left-handed pitchers. Gave him an opportunity there and he came through.”

Stowers also scored the first run of the game, maneuvering around Red Sox catcher Connor Wong to score on ’s groundout in the third inning. Stowers finished the series hitting .417/.417/.833 with a home run, his first career triple and three RBIs across four games.

Rutschman sets rookie record
On Sept. 21, 1982, Cal Ripken Jr. hit his 32nd double of the year to set the record for most doubles by an Orioles rookie in a single season. The record-setting hit came against Detroit starter Milt Wilcox in Ripken’s 149th game of the season.

Just over 40 years later, the record has been broken. In the first inning of his 108th game of the season, Rutschman recorded his 33rd double to edge past Orioles legend Ripken.

“I mean obviously, Cal Ripken, he is the Orioles. So it's definitely a cool thing,” Rutschman said.

Another accolade to add to an ever-growing list for Rutschman so far in his rookie season:

• Most doubles (33) by an Orioles rookie
• Fourth-best fWAR (4.8) by a rookie catcher in MLB history
• Second-best fWAR (4.8) by an O’s rookie in franchise history
• Second-most homers (13) by an O’s rookie catcher in team history
• Second O’s rookie with 10-plus homers and 30-plus doubles in a season

The Orioles leave Boston to open a three-game series against the Yankees in New York on Friday, before hosting the Blue Jays to close out the regular season next week.

“There's still some energy,” said Mike Baumann, who gave up two runs over his four-inning start. “It's a fun clubhouse to be a part of and the guys are still fighting. We're looking to make some noise. … Things didn’t necessarily go our way, but there's a lot of baseball left and we're looking to get back on our feet this next series in New York.”