Good evening, all you night owls! If you can manage to stay up until midnight for this West Coast contest, the Orioles delivered a tight, neat, good game and all 74 of the team’su win of the season. Gunnar Henderson opened the game with a three-run double off San Diego’s Yu Darvish in the fifth, and that was all Baltimore needed, especially with Grayson Rodriguez pitching the best start of his young career, seven innings with one run and six hits allowed.
“A Tale of Two Seasons,” Alex Church called this O’s-Padres matchup, describing one team whose season chart is on the upswing and the other whose chart is on the downswing. Tonight, it was a Tale of Two Very Different Pitchers. Crafty Yu Darvish turns 11u season, he approached the Orioles mixing speeds, sliders and sweeps punctuated by a fastball or two. Grayson Rodriguez, on the other hand, showed up to put some Padres away — his fastball was hitting 100 and he was burying it in the top of the zone.
When the Darvish strategy works, you get a lot of weak ground balls. When it fails, you hang a breaking and crushing ball. When Rodriguez’s “throttle” strategy works, there are a lot of silly shifts — but if not, contact is difficult.
And there was some hard contact with Rodriguez, early on. In the first, Fernando Tatis drove a ball through the midfield before fading with a double play. Xander Bogaerts smoked a double to left to lead off the second, but was shorted.
But just like the short charts of the season, it took Grayson a second to find his secondary material, but as the game wore on, he found it—and his performance went up and up. And even though Darvish got off to a strong start, he will blink first. The 36-year-old right-hander hooked Ryan O’Hearn on a breaking ball at second and the lefty drove it into the right corner of the pitch. It was O’Hearn’s first home run since July 25 and the Orioles were on the scoreboard.
It took Rodriguez until the third to pitch his first 1-2-3 inning, but as he did, his confidence continued to grow. He needed just 11 pitches to get through the fourth: he struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. with “the old Bugs Bunny changeup” (by the way, how great is it to have Ben McDonald and Kevin Brown together in the MASN booth?) then flipped the series to Juan Soto, starting with changeups and ending him with 100 on top of the belt.
At that point, the second time through the order, the Orioles started hitting Darvish harder and harder. They got three hits against him in the fourth but couldn’t score, an Anthony Santander GIDP spoiling their carefully laid plans.
But they broke through in the fifth inning. With one out, the Orioles loaded the bases: Aaron Hicks served up another hanger to right, Jordan Westburg scorched a single and Adley Rutschman walked to set the stage for Gunnar Henderson.
The presumptive front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year threw a swing he might want to consider adding to his highlight reel. He took a huge curveball on the first pitch and showed incredible vision and patience as he waited, waited, waited, then smashed the thing into the left field corner.
It wasn’t Delmon Young’s double, but it cleared the bases, gave Gunnar 55 RBIs on the season (third on the team) and put the Orioles up 4-0. According to the stand, this was the first off-base hit against Darvish’s curveball all season, and the first curveball Henderson had seen from Darvish.
After retiring 11 in a row, Rodriguez plated a run in the sixth inning when the Padres’ newest acquisition, Garrett Cooper, sat on a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the center-field wall. MASN’s booth pointed out that the third time through the order, G-Rod’s batting average was up against an alarming .348.
That’s why it was especially cool to see how he responded to the home run: punched out to the side. Then he went and broke his career high in innings. Going into the seventh for just the second time, Rodriguez quickly retired Juan Soto and Manny Machado. He then started looking gassed, drawing his first walk of the game with two outs. Maybe Chris Holt’s mound talk helped: Rodriguez called a well-placed changeup that got Jake Cronenworth to hit a weak grounder for the third time tonight. And there it was: Grayson Rodriguez had 21 strikeouts for the first time in his career.
Both sides then turned to their bathrobes — both balls getting the job done. In the eighth, the Padres’ Tom Cosgrove allowed just one walk to Ryan O’Hearn (who quietly reached base three times tonight), while Jacob Webb faced the minimum, helped by a double play started by a sure Ramón Urías in third place and an occasional warning catch by Cedric Mullins.
The Orioles missed a chance to plug their lead in the ninth after Cedric Mullins built a leadoff double when Padres CF Trent Grisham took a sloppy route to the ball. Urías advanced him to third on a warning fly, but uncontested at-bats by Austin Hays (submitted for Aaron Hicks, who is hopefully not injured) and Westburg snuffed out the rally.
On Saturday night, Félix Bautista went two innings against Seattle, so we know manager Brandon Hyde will want to avoid him tonight. But we went into the ninth down 4-1, a save situation, and that meant one thing: Mountain time. Ha-Seong Kim came out behind the plate before Bautista started to struggle. He walked Fernando Tatis Jr., who stole second without throwing. He fell 3-2 to Juan Soto and then walked him as well. That brought the draw to Manny Machado.
Once an Oriole, always an Oriole…right? Machado drove a ground ball into the path of Ramon Urias, who fired to second to Henderson, who fired to O’Hearn for the double play. Good evening, good evening and good night, San Diego! Somehow, Bautista turned 32n.d save, Grayson Rodriguez picks up third career win and Orioles AL-best 74u win of the season.
See you tomorrow at the stadium!
Who was the most Birdland player for Monday August 14th?
Grayson Rodriguez (7.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 K)
Gunnar Henderson (2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI)
Ryan O’Hearn (2-for-3, HR, BB, and also because I like the 3 rule)
121 votes in total
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