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‘A bunch of grinders’: Orioles’ success against top starters continues in 7-3 victory over Nationals

The Orioles’ lineup for the second game of their series with the Washington Nationals featured no homegrown players, with six of its occupants being waiver claims after their prior organizations no longer wanted to fit them into their rosters.

But every member of that starting nine got a hit Saturday at Camden Yards and helped continue the Orioles’ trend of putting up a fight against the top starters they’ll face in a geography-bound schedule. Baltimore struck early against Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin, hanging onto that lead for a 7-3 victory, their seventh in eight games.

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“We’re a bunch of grinders that are facing some really tough starters and guys are doing a nice job of competing on a nightly basis,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I just get enjoyment out of winning a major league game, whether you have a group of all-stars or a bunch of waiver claims. It’s tough to win in the big leagues, and that’s why I want our guys to enjoy wins because it takes a lot to win a major league game, and I just want our guys to compete.

“I think our guys are playing with an attitude that they don’t really care what people think, and they’re playing like they have nothing to lose, and I just want that to continue the next six weeks.”

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The Orioles (12-8) have gone 6-2 in games started by New York’s Gerrit Cole, Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow, Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta, and Washington’s Corbin and Stephen Strasburg, a group that includes two former No. 1 overall picks, two Cy Young Award winners and five nine-figure contracts.

The opposing aces combined for a 6.82 ERA against the Orioles, who went to work quickly against Corbin on Saturday. Anthony Santander drew a one-out walk in the first, putting two in scoring position when José Iglesias doubled. Catcher Pedro Severino, a former National, continued his success against his old club by stroking a two-run double down the left-field line.

Orioles starter Asher Wojciechowski answered with a shutdown inning, and his teammates soon gave him a chance for another. Andrew Velazquez added to the Orioles’ lead against Corbin with his first career triple, scoring designated hitter Bryan Holaday from first. Holaday huffed and puffed his way down the third-base line to barely beat the throw home, giving Velazquez his first career RBI. Velazquez then scored on Hanser Alberto’s sacrifice fly.

Rio Ruiz completed the Orioles’ damage against Corbin with a fourth-inning home run, his sixth of the season and second of a left-hander among his first 11 plate appearances against them after hitting only one off a lefty in 68 plate appearances in 2019.

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Great Scott

Wojciechowski took the mound for the sixth inning with the only damage against him being Juan Soto’s two-run home run in the fourth, but when Trea Turner sent his first pitch of the frame out to left, Hyde turned to left-hander Tanner Scott.

Scott spent his first three years in the majors flashing the stuff that got him selected to the 2017 Futures Game, but not getting the results. That hasn’t been the case thus far in 2020.

Including Saturday’s outing in which he faced five batters and retired them all, Scott has pitched eight innings, allowed one run on two hits and struck out 11.

“Just big outs,” Hyde said.

After struggling as the Orioles’ closer in 2019, Mychal Givens worked his eighth straight scoreless appearance as Baltimore’s setup man before giving way to Cole Sulser for a four-out save.

“I’m not surprised at how we’re playing,” Wojciechowski said. “We all believe in each other. We all push each other. We’re getting familiar with each player, playing every day, pushing each other. We’re here to win. We’re here to compete and play as best as we can, and that’s what we’re doing.

“Honestly, I don’t care what people think. We know what we have here.”

Meet the new guy

Velazquez, one of the six waiver claims in the Orioles’ lineup, was likely only starting in center field because Austin Hays went on the injured list earlier Saturday with a broken rib. He took advantage of the opportunity.

Making his first appearance in center field for the Orioles, Velazquez paired his RBI triple with a fourth-inning single for a 2-for-2 start. He entered the game with three hits in 23 at-bats.

He couldn’t add a third hit in the sixth, reaching on a fielder’s choice, but he found another way to make an impact, stealing second, advancing on a throwing error from catcher Yan Gomes and scoring when Alberto poked a double down the right-field line.

“He’s kind of a wild card on our team in that he covers us in a lot of ways,” Hyde said. “Started in center, went to left. Can play shortstop. Can play second base. Really athletic guy with great feet and an accurate arm and can go get it anywhere he’s at. He’s a threat on the bases when he’s on the bases. He’s a bunt threat. There’s a lot of things to like about Drew.”

Like Velazquez and Alberto, shortstop José Iglesias posted multiple hits. On the third, an RBI single in the ninth, he hobbled his way to first as a sore left quad clearly continued to bother him.

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