For all the platitudes the Orioles give about their mentality — how they never give up — Friday night at Fenway Park was real, tangible evidence to support those statements.
The Orioles trailed 6-0 after the second inning and 8-2 after the sixth inning. The Red Sox had jumped all over right-hander Kyle Bradish, scoring four runs before he had recorded an out. But as the evening grew later and Baltimore continued to hang around, simply hanging around turned into a whole lot more.
There was Anthony Santander’s blast to right field, the first breakthrough. Then came Jorge Mateo’s three-run shot, and Austin Hays’ two-run blast, and a Rafael Devers throwing error that scored Rougned Odor. In those fits and spurts, the Orioles turned a potential blowout into a barnburner, with the go-ahead run — and then some — crossing in the ninth.
It looked so improbable earlier. But if there’s anything the Orioles (19-27) have made a habit of, it’s this: Every game is an adventure, be it good or bad, and Friday it took the form of the former. The 12-8 win came in large part because of the bullpen’s ability to cover for Bradish, allowing just two runs after his departure.
But it also featured the steady rise of an offense chipping away at a deficit before it blew the gates down in the ninth with four runs. The first four batters reached safely, and Santander’s single into right scored the first of those runs.
A wild pitch, a sacrifice fly and Odor’s RBI single — part of a career-high 11-game hitting streak — did the rest of the damage.
It was a case study in what the Orioles have so often stated shortly into the 2022 season. The win-loss record shows a losing ballclub. At times, the play reinforces that. But at other turns, there’s a hint of something else — an aversion to quitting that came out in force at Fenway Park.
An early exit
Bradish was an out away from righting the ship, escaping the second inning without any further damage. But then came a single, and a walk, and a hit batter, and it all unraveled in a heartbeat.
Alex Verdugo plated two of those runners with a ground-rule double, and Bradish made the slow walk to the visitor’s dugout with his head low and his ERA high. There have been speed bumps along the path thus far — that’s the reality for a starting pitcher in his first season in the majors — but none have been more jarring than this.
The right-hander wound up conceding more runs than he managed outs, with Boston scoring six in 1 2/3 innings, taxing a bullpen at the beginning of a five-game, four-day series.
The need for six relievers to cover the final 6 1/3 innings could have repercussions later in the weekend, especially when a bullpen game could be in order Saturday during a doubleheader. In the short term, however, it was a reminder that the process for top prospects adapting to the big leagues isn’t always smooth.
Bradish has largely impressed across six starts. He lasted six innings in his debut, allowing three runs. He struck out 11 batters earlier this month against St. Louis. But in Bradish’s three most recent outings, the outcomes have been rockier, with a combined 15 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings.
A much-needed hit
In the games since Mateo took a full-on hit from Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson and exited the game early May 15, the shortstop hasn’t looked like himself.
Once he returned from the shoulder and chest contusion he suffered in the collision from a linebacker-sized baseball player, he embarked on a stretch that featured two hits in 30 at-bats, including his first two attempts Friday. Hyde said there were no lingering side-effects from that hit. Instead, he might have been pressing.
“I just see him trying a little bit too hard at the plate,” Hyde said pregame. “He’s come up in some big spots and wants to come through so badly. The work has been awesome, his preparation is great, the process is good. He’s just trying a little bit too hard in the game right now.”
So in Mateo strode with two runners on in the seventh inning, another big spot as the Orioles looked to climb back into the game. And on a slider from left-hander Jake Diekman left over the outer third of the plate, Mateo crushed a three-run homer over the Green Monster.
It’s just one knock, bringing him to an overall 3-for-35 mark since May 13. But perhaps seeing one of those at-bats in a big moment go his way can turn the tide.
Around the horn
> Hyde said right-hander Jordan Lyles will start one of the two games Saturday — likely the first one — and a spot starter will appear for the other game. Whether that spot starter comes from the taxi squad is possible, Hyde said.
> The Orioles added right-handers Denyi Reyes and Cody Sedlock and catcher Cody Roberts to the taxi squad in Boston. Either Reyes or Sedlock could feature Saturday, giving some length in what will likely be a bullpen game.
> Triple-A Norfolk infielder Jahmai Jones underwent successful Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery Monday in Cincinnati. Hyde ruled Jones out for the remainder of the 2022 season and presumed the prospect could miss part of 2023, too, although the recovery process for a position player compared with a pitcher is less rigorous.
> Former Orioles general manager Dan Duquette was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Thursday and introduced to the crowd Friday, commemorating Duquette for eight years as Boston’s general manager. He assembled much of the team that went on to win the 2004 World Series after his departure.
This article will be updated.
Game 1: 12:10 p.m.
Game 2: Approx. 6:10 p.m.
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Source: Berkshire mont