The Orioles’ bullpen is an amalgamation of waiver claims, failed starters and longtime minor leaguers getting their first extended major league opportunities. Unexpectedly tasked with a rubber game against the Tampa Bay Rays, that relief corps again delivered for Baltimore.
After starter Jordan Lyles was scratched with a stomach virus, seven of Baltimore’s relievers combined to cover all nine innings of Sunday’s 2-1 series-clinching victory at Camden Yards, coming in front of a Father’s Day crowd of 23,004. Four of those pitchers came to Baltimore via waiver claims. Another was a late-round draft pick. One spent a decade in the minors and was once released before finally getting a major league shot.
“It’s almost like we’re the misfits,” right-hander Bryan Baker said earlier this season, describing a group of pitchers that held Tampa Bay to two runs in 16 2/3 innings for Baltimore’s second straight series win against the Rays after winning only one of their prior 22 games between the American League East foes.
Sunday, Baker was the lone member of the group to give up a run. Austin Voth, making his second start among 72 appearances over the previous two seasons, recorded the first eight outs, with one coming at home plate on an excellent relay from right fielder Ryan McKenna to second baseman Rougned Odor to catcher Adley Rutschman to end the second. With two outs and a man on in the second, Voth gave way to Baker, who issued two walks to load the bases. But he struck out frequent Orioles killer Randy Arozarena to leave them that way.
Already holding a 1-0 lead after Anthony Santander’s first-inning home run, the Orioles added a run in the third when McKenna scored from first on Cedric Mullins’ double to left-center field, though Baker gave it back in the fourth. Neither team scored from there, with Nick Vespi, Mike Baumann, Félix Bautista, Cionel Pérez and Jorge López pitching shutout ball.
Mateo’s wild ride
Trying to dodge an inside pick from Luke Bard in the bottom of the eighth, Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo instead took it to the neck. He remained in the game, but Bard twice tried to pick him off before throwing another pitch. Mateo then stole second base with ease on Bard’s next throw home.
He was thrown out at third on Mullins’ subsequent ground ball to the right side.
‘Best Dad Ever’
The Orioles hope that Lyles will feel well enough to pitch in the coming days. His illness cost the other members of the rotation a Father’s Day celebration.
Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells wore T-shirts pregame featuring Lyles’ face and the words “Best Dad Ever,” a reference to his veteran status among Baltimore’s starters.
Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
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