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Orioles bats build early lead, bullpen barely holds on in 8-6 win over Rays

In the first two innings Tuesday night, the Orioles made up for three seasons’ worth of struggles against Tyler Glasnow.

Across six starts against Baltimore between 2018 and 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA, not allowing more than two runs in any outing. Facing the 6-foot-8 right-hander again Tuesday, a hitter who was on a different American League East team for those dominant performances was the one who ended that streak in the first inning.

Aaron Hicks, who has been one of Baltimore’s best hitters since joining the team after being cut by the New York Yankees, blasted a three-run home run in the first inning — the first of three long balls the Orioles hit as they built a seven-run lead. The advantage was barely large enough for their bullpen as Baltimore held on for an 8-6 win over Tampa Bay.

A 7-0 lead is one that would normally have manager Brandon Hyde comfortable, but “not with the Rays,” he said. “That’s a really good club, it’s a great offense. No runs are enough. We kind of helped them out there a little bit in those middle innings with some walks. Fortunately, we held on.”

The Orioles scored nearly as many runs in the first two innings off Glasnow as the eight they put up their first six times facing him. In addition to Hicks’ first-inning shot, Anthony Santander and Ryan O’Hearn also homered. Starting pitcher Kyle Bradish was sharp, delivering five innings of two-run ball to extend the rotation’s streak of allowing three or fewer runs to 11 games and 20 of the past 21. The middle relief nearly blew the 7-0 lead, but the dominant duo of Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista stymied the Rays’ rally by recording the last seven outs.

Baltimore is 45-27 — tied for the second-best record in the AL — and is four games back of the Rays (51-25) for first place in the AL East. The Orioles have won three straight games against Tampa Bay for the first time since August 2020. They are 3-1 versus the Rays this season and 14-8 against division foes.

In Hyde’s first four seasons, the Orioles were 6-24 at Tropicana Field, going 2-7 last season and 1-9 in 2021. As the Rays were chipping away at Baltimore’s lead, what does Hyde think made the difference?

“I haven’t had Cano and Bautista in the past,” he said.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead after Gunnar Henderson hit a leadoff double down the right field line, went to third on Adley Rutschman’s groundout and scored on Santander’s bloop single. Henderson, who struggled to open his first full season as a big leaguer, entered Tuesday slashing .364/.391/.727 with five home runs in June.

With two outs, Hicks hammered an 0-1 slider from Glasnow 104.4 mph down the right field line for his third home run as an Oriole. Hicks was hitting .188 with a .524 OPS in 28 games with the Yankees before he was released. In 17 games with Baltimore, he’s hitting .340 with a 1.048 OPS.

The four-run outburst was the Orioles’ highest-scoring first inning this season.

“It’s always huge to be able to put pressure on a guy like [Glasnow] early in a game,” Hicks said. “To be able to put four runs up in the first inning and then two in the second, it’s big. We kept fighting, kept getting in there and did what we had to to win the game.”

Santander kept the merry-go-round turning in the second, blasting a two-run homer with two outs to put the Orioles up 6-0. The 405-foot blast off a 1-2 curveball from Glasnow, starting his fifth game after opening the season on the injured list, was Santander’s 11th long ball of the year.

Both home runs followed excellent at-bats from two of the Orioles’ best hitters to extend the inning. In the first, Austin Hays, who went 3-for-4 and is hitting an AL-best .327, singled on the seventh pitch of his at-bat to bring up Hicks. In the second, Rutschman, who is leading all AL catchers in All-Star voting, walked on six pitches to bring up Santander.

O’Hearn put Baltimore up 7-0 in the fifth with a solo home run to continue his scorching hot season, roping a first-pitch cutter off former Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong. Once a left-handed bench bat, O’Hearn has stepped into a near-everyday role with Ryan Mountcastle on the IL and has been one of the club’s best hitters with a 1.015 OPS.

Bradish (3-3) was dominant through his first four innings, holding Tampa Bay to one hit. He relied heavily on his slider, throwing the pitch 48% of the time and getting seven of his eight strikeouts with it.

After retiring the first six batters of the game, he issued two straight walks to open the third. But he struck out the side, including punchouts of stars Yandy Díaz and Wander Franco.

The right-hander got into trouble in the fifth, though, as the Rays scored two and bloated his pitch count. He allowed RBI hits to Francisco Mejía and Franco before getting Randy Arozarena to fly out to escape his own jam. The win was Bradish’s first against an AL East team, as the second-year starter entered 0-9 with a 7.27 ERA in 17 starts versus the division. His 3.88 ERA ranks second in Baltimore’s rotation.

“I don’t look too much into personal wins, just as long as the team’s winning,” Bradish said. “But that one definitely feels good to get that first one against an AL East opponent.”

Three relievers followed Bradish in the sixth as the Rays rallied to score four runs and trail by only one. Bryan Baker allowed three of the four batters he faced to reach base, including an RBI single to Isaac Paredes. Mike Baumann replaced Baker and got Mejía to pop up for the second out but then surrendered an RBI single to Díaz and walked Franco. Danny Coulombe came in to face pinch-hitter Manuel Margot, who hit a two-run single to bring the tying run to third, but the left-hander ended the threat by getting Arozarena to hit a pop up to shallow center field, which second baseman Adam Frazier sprinted out to snag.

Hicks added a crucial insurance run in the eighth with an RBI single to score Hays, who doubled to lead off the inning.

Coulombe got two outs in the seventh before giving way to Cano and Bautista. Cano got three outs, and Bautista, celebrating his 28th birthday, recorded the final four for his 20th save of the season.

Around the horn

  • The Norfolk Tides on Tuesday assembled what might have been the best lineup from any Triple-A team this season, but it will have to wait another day. The Orioles’ minor league affiliate’s lineup featured an MLB All-Star, a slugger with a 30-homer season, three top 100 prospects (per Baseball America) and four others inside the organization’s top 25, but the Tides’ game in Nashville, Tennessee, was rained out. Cedric Mullins and Mountcastle were set to begin their minor league rehabilitation assignments, joining top prospects Colton Cowser, Jordan Westburg, Heston Kjerstad and Connor Norby as well as recently promoted youngsters César Prieto and starting pitcher Justin Armbruester.
  • While Prieto and Armbruester didn’t make their Triple-A debuts, a couple of the other top 30 Orioles prospects who were moved up a level did. Outfielder Jud Fabian (No. 13) and right-hander Jean Pinto (No. 28) were bumped up from High-A Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie on Tuesday and made their debuts at the new level. Pinto started and pitched 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. Fabian went 1-for-5 out of the No. 3 hole and recorded an outfield assist by throwing out a runner at the plate from center field.

Orioles at Rays

Wednesday, 12:10 p.m.

TV: MASN2

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

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Source: Berkshire mont

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