ARLINGTON, Texas — As Jordan Lyles packed for the Orioles’ series in Cincinnati and Texas, he stuffed his suitcase with more clothing than he typically would for a six-game road trip. That, he said Monday, was the only consideration he had given to the possibility he might be traded during it.
Those clothes will go unneeded, and the Orioles were the beneficiaries Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers. Retained through the evening’s Major League Baseball trade deadline after Baltimore dealt first baseman Trey Mancini and closer Jorge López for a combined six minor league pitchers, Lyles pitched into the seventh inning in Baltimore’s 8-2 victory in which shortstop Jorge Mateo hit a pair of home runs and drove in five.
The Orioles (53-51) moved within 1 1/2 games of the American League’s final wild-card spot as they picked up their 53rd win, surpassing their 2021 total. Manager Brandon Hyde said crossing that threshold with 58 games to was more an indicator of “how bad last year was” than an accomplishment to celebrate, joking “I don’t even want to think about last year,” when Baltimore lost a league-high 110 games.
Lyles spent that season with the Rangers, leading the majors in home runs allowed but building a reputation for himself as a pitcher capable of working deep into the games. Signed to the largest free-agent contract Baltimore has given out in the past four offseasons, Lyles was a candidate to be traded because he is in the final guaranteed year of that deal, with Baltimore holding a $11 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2023. Whatever decision the front office makes this offseason, it already elected to hold onto Lyles, 31, through the rest of this campaign, allowing him to continue to serve as a veteran presence and innings eater for their inexperienced pitching staff.
“He’s been the one guy all year long that has just been an anchor in our rotation and given so many guys a breather and his ability to go deep into games and not want to come out of the game,” Hyde said. “Just knows how to pitch, so he’s been huge for us, and glad we kept him.”
Lyles’ 124 2/3 innings ranked sixth in the AL at the end of his outing. He took the mound in the seventh having already thrown 94 pitches, but he faced three more batters in the frame before exiting with 110 pitches, with Dillon Tate helping to strand a pair of his runners. This season, Lyles has recorded 18 outs beyond the sixth inning, double the combined total of all other Orioles starters.
“I was hoping to get a little bit deeper,” Lyles said, “but definitely not complaining with six-plus.”
Baltimore backed him with a five-run third, with a three-run shot from Mateo dealing most of the damage. Rookie catcher Adley Rutschman continued his surge with an RBI double, eventually scoring on Ryan Mountcastle’s sacrifice fly. An insurance run came in the top of the fifth on consecutive doubles from Rutschman and Anthony Santander, another trade candidate who Baltimore did not move.
Rutschman’s pair of doubles gave him 22 since his May 21 debut, a count matched only by All-Stars José Ramírez, Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley in that span. Since June 10, the phenom has led all catchers in doubles, on-base percentage, OPS, walk rate, line drive percentage and FanGraphs’ version of WAR.
A day after Rutschman reached base four times for the first time in his career, Terrin Vavra did the same, with his third walk preceding Mateo’s second home run.
Left-hander Nick Vespi, recalled to replace López on the roster, allowed a home run in the ninth before Félix Bautista, presumably Baltimore’s new closer, finished the game.
“Right now, we feel like a family,” Mateo said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “This group is super united, so every day that we come into this field, no matter what the score is, no matter how the game is going, we feel like we’re in it, and we feel like we’re gonna win that game.”
Yusniel Diaz was at a Dallas-Fort Worth mall Monday doing some clothes shopping when he got a call from Quinones, letting him know he should head to Globe Life Field. The Orioles were trading Mancini to the Houston Astros and planned to use the newly opened roster spot to add Diaz from the taxi squad to their major league roster for the first time.
The 25-year-old outfielder ranked as Baltimore’s top prospect after serving as the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers four summers ago but has missed a great deal of time with lower-body injuries. As Mancini made his Houston debut as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night, Diaz did the same in Baltimore. Mancini grounded out, while Diaz struck out.
It’s possible Diaz comes off the roster whenever Baltimore adds trade acquisition Brett Phillips to the active roster, but he hopes to show them he can make an impact in whatever time he has.
“It will be the biggest experience I’ve ever had,” Diaz said through Quinones, “the chance to showcase what I’m able to do.”
Around the horn
Baltimore Orioles Insider
>> The Orioles formally announced the signings of four undrafted free agents, including Maryland infielder Maxwell Costes. The others were Nevada-Las Vegas right-hander Hayden Nierman, Lipscomb right-hander Trey Norman and Rice right-hander Cooper Chandler.
>> Right-handers Mike Baumann and Logan Gillaspie and catcher Jacob Nottingham were added to Baltimore’s taxi squad.
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