As the Orioles threatened in the bottom of Saturday’s 10th inning at Camden Yards, Jorge López pleaded with manager Brandon Hyde, begging to go back out for another inning if needed and continue the bullpen’s scoreless start to Baltimore’s series with the Boston Red Sox.
But the Orioles did not need a third inning from their closer, or even another out from any of their relievers. On a night Baltimore’s bullpen did not make a mistake with 5 1/3 scoreless innings, they capitalized on one from Boston’s, with a wayward throw from Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura on Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos’ bunt attempt allowing Jorge Mateo to score easily for a 2-1 walk-off victory.
“We just battled to the end,” said López, who also pitched one-third of an inning among the bullpen’s three shutout frames Friday before combining with five relievers Saturday.
The collective performance allowed the Orioles (7-14) to win a game in which Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi carried a no-hitter into the sixth, with a two-out double from Cedric Mullins spoiling the bid and another in the eighth allowing Anthony Santander to drive him in as the tying run.
With pinch-runner Mateo automatically at second, Sawamura opened the 10th by intentionally walking pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna, who was likely to bunt. Instead, that task fell to Chirinos, who fouled off his first attempt between two balls before popping another try toward the mound. With the ball in the air, Mateo initially held up near second, giving Sawamura time to get the force at third once it fell, but his throw sailed over Rafael Devers, allowing the speedster to casually jog home for the winning run.
The game would have reached that point without Baltimore’s bullpen. Félix Bautista closed the line on Spenser Watkins’ fourth strong start by getting the final out of the fifth; Watkins’ 2.55 ERA trails only Bruce Zimmermann’s 0.93 among Orioles’ starters. Bryan Baker handled the sixth, with Joey Krehbiel, Cionel Pérez and Dillon Tate then recording two outs each.
“They’re absolutely nasty,” Watkins said. “To watch them do it and then Jorge come in and close the door, it’s fun to watch.”
López, who struggled as a starter in 2021 but has become dominant at the back of Baltimore’s bullpen, pitched a clean ninth. With a runner automatically at second to open the 10th and the top of Boston’s order due up, he worked around a two-out walk, one of only three base runners the Orioles’ relievers allowed Saturday. López has a 1.59 ERA in 10 outings.
“I love to be out there, doesn’t matter what the situation,” López said. “We know the season is so long, so we’re going to have the up-and-downs, but just get out there and have fun and get that mentality of just put those guys out and give the chance for the team to win.”
Added Watkins, who shared the rotation with López last year: “He’s a different animal out there this year.”
Seeing is believing
Most televisions in the Orioles’ clubhouse before the game were showing “Bull Durham,” but one played a repeating video of Eovaldi allowing home runs to opposing batters, most on other American League East teams, with a handful of singles by Orioles mixed in.
What appeared to be a visualization attempt didn’t carry over into the game. Two turns through the lineup against Eovaldi, Baltimore’s only base runner came opening the second inning when Austin Hays reached on shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ error. After Eovaldi recorded the second out of the fifth with his seventh strikeout — and Chris Owings’ 12th in his first 17 at-bats as an Oriole — Mullins lined a double to left for the Orioles’ first hit, but Santander followed with a groundout, continuing Baltimore’s yearlong struggles with runners in scoring position.
They stretched into the seventh, as well, with Eovaldi retiring the next three Orioles after Ryan Mountcastle and Hays singled to open the inning. Baltimore started the series 0-for-12 with runners on second, third or both in the series, giving the Orioles hits in fewer than one-sixth of such at-bats to that point.
“We’ve always kind of struggled with Eovaldi, and he’s got great stuff,” Hyde said. “He was on tonight too, three hits, no walks, so seven innings of 99 [mph] with a split and a slider. We’re mostly right-handed. That’s not easy. It’s a tough matchup for us.”
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Santander’s game-tying single in the eighth off reliever Matt Barnes ended the drought, and although Chirinos’ 10th-inning at-bat went down as a fielder’s choice and error, it provided a win regardless.
“We haven’t had a ton of success against these guys, and so just trying to scratch out a run somehow,” Hyde said. “Fortunately, we took advantage of a mistake there in the last inning.”
Around the horn
- Trey Mancini was not available Saturday after bruising his ribs running into the outfield wall playing right field Friday, Hyde said, adding he hopes Mancini will be able to play in Sunday’s series finale.
- The Orioles are still awaiting updates on the inflammation in Alexander Wells’ left elbow and Chris Ellis’ right shoulder, Hyde said before the game. Both pitchers are on the 10-day injured list.
- With roster size reducing from 28 to 26 players after Sunday’s game, the Orioles are still considering their options, Hyde said, adding that the way they’ve pitched thus far this year would make it easier to carry 13 pitchers rather than the maximum allowance of 14.
- Top prospect Adley Rutschman continued his minor league rehab assignment with High-A Aberdeen with hits in the first four of his five at-bats, including two doubles off right-hander Mick Abel, the Philadelphia Phillies’ No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America. In four games — two each at catcher and designated hitter — Rutschman is hitting .462 with a 1.225 OPS.
Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
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