Banged up as they might be, at least the Orioles are limping into Monday’s day off with a win.
Sunday’s 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox, which salvaged a series split and pulled the Orioles back to .500 at 14-14, was powered by a pair of productive swings by Rio Ruiz but might prove Pyrrhic considering the injury toll.
The Orioles’ starting battery left with the training staff early, with Wade LeBlanc taking himself out four batters into the game with left elbow soreness and catcher Pedro Severino limping on a single to lead off the seventh inning. He left the game with right hip flexor tightness, the team said.
Manager Brandon Hyde said that LeBlanc would have an MRI on Monday, and the prognosis for both was still pending.
“It’s a wait-and-see with both of those guys so I don’t want to jump to conclusions on either one of them,” he said. “We’ll wait to see the results and we’ll know more information tomorrow, but we’re going to enjoy this win. I’m hoping that both guys are OK.”
Whatever long-term concerns come from those early exits will be dealt with after the Orioles do a bit of exhaling, with Sunday’s win and Saturday night’s extra-inning victory steadying their season after a six-game losing streak.
Sunday’s win began, at least offensively, like so many of the disappointing games of this homestand, with the Orioles squandering early chances. They left the bases loaded in the first inning and left two more runners in scoring position in the second before Ruiz came through with a two-out, bases-loaded single to right field to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
No. 9 hitter Andrew Velazquez bunted home the third run of the inning with a single.
Ruiz came up with runners on second and third and two out in the seventh and drove a ball over the head of left fielder Kevin Pillar, who was playing shallow, to drive in two more runs and give him a career-high four RBIs.
Hyde moved him to the eighth spot in the lineup to relieve some pressure he felt Ruiz was putting on himself. Ruiz responded with more hits with runners in scoring position than he’d had the rest of the season combined.
“I honestly didn’t feel any different at all,” Ruiz said. “Obviously it is different, I’m four or five spots lower than I usually am or have been. But, I’ve been working, man. I understand what I’m going through. Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I just kept working. ... That’s the best you can do and I’m glad I was able to help out the team today.”
Two doubles for left fielder Ryan Mountcastle meant half of the Orioles’ 10 hits came from the bottom three stations in the batting order.
Eshelman picks up slack
After allowing a leadoff home run to Pillar and walking cleanup hitter Xander Bogaerts, LeBlanc lofted a 67 mph curveball to Christian Vázquez that was well off the plate and immediately signaled for the training staff to come out.
Thomas Eshelman had to warm up quickly on the field and walked the first batter he faced, but retired the next 13 to deliver the game to the late-inning relievers.
“Tommy won us the game, getting 13 outs,” Hyde said. “That’s the third time he’s pitched in five days, and for him to go 4⅓, really just locating everything so well. Not a ton of hard contact, just a really great job of pitching four-plus innings. Just did a great job of keeping the score right there for us.”
“That was my first time ever doing that in my entire career,” Eshelman said. “I’ve seen other guys do it and I’ve felt for them, so me being able to do that, [I’m] just try to give my team the ability to win and I just came in and start pounding strikes and try to get the team in the dugout real quick. It was definitely an interesting experience for myself.”
Miguel Castro allowed a run in the sixth inning, and Paul Fry and Mychal Givens appeared to have things under control before Tanner Scott took over with a runner on and two outs in the ninth and allowed a two-run home run to Jackie Bradley Jr.
Still, Scott picked up his first career save.
A double in the fourth inning extended right fielder Anthony Santander’s hitting streak to 18 games, a career high.
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Santander’s streak is the longest by an Oriole since Nick Markakis had an 18-game hitting streak of his own from April 21-May 11, 2014.