Chance Sisco and Rio Ruiz spent baseball’s shutdown this spring living together with their families at Sisco’s Florida home, working out and hitting daily and no doubt envisioning what the season would look like.
Picturing days like Wednesday night’s 5-4 Orioles win, and the season it’s coming in, might have been too ambitious, even by orange-tinted standards. Sisco and Ruiz each hit massive home runs to continue their breakout starts to the season, helping the Orioles (9-7) to a fourth straight win.
“It seems like good teams have different guys on different nights,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s what we have. Guys had some big hits tonight.”
Sisco and Ruiz each had solo home runs to build and pad the Orioles’ late lead, with Sisco adding a two-run single early and Ruiz making a wonderful play at third base to end the eighth inning and keep that lead intact.
With runners on first and second and two out, Ruiz went to his left to field a ground ball by Andrew McCutchen. As he was falling to the ground, he shoveled it toward second base. The throw made it to an outstretched Hanser Alberto on its fifth hop and narrowly beat the runner.
“Just a really, really stellar defensive game again,” Hyde said. “That was a big part of this winning this game.”
Said Sisco: “That was a huge play. It was crazy. Just going into the hole, obviously, is a tough play. And then I don’t know what happened, he stumbled a little bit and fell to the ground. I don’t know what it takes just to get that ball out of his glove. Just a great play.”
Ruiz’s home run broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning, and Sisco’s came in the seventh. The Orioles’ scoring opened on a home run by Anthony Santander in the third.
The Orioles (9-7) have the chance to sweep the Phillies on Thursday afternoon. They’ve now won their fourth series in six chances.
From the first inning on, veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc was in a situation a pitcher who likes to nibble at the edges and avoid the big part of home plate never enjoys: he couldn’t get a called strike.
LeBlanc walked three and allowed three runs on six hits with two strikeouts in 3⅓ innings, and was spared worse when Shawn Armstrong got a double play on his first relief pitch to end the fourth inning.
“Not great,” LeBlanc said. “Not particularly good at all. ... The ultimate goal of a starting pitcher is to keep your team in the game. To feel like I did stuff-wise, mechanically, and to allow this team to be able to come back and score some runs is what I’ll take from this one.”
Bullpen is back
A night after the Orioles’ relievers turned back the clocks and gave away leads as quickly as the hitters gained them, Wednesday’s performance was much more in line with the level they’ve found for most of this surprising 2020 season.
Armstrong had a scoreless fifth inning as well, and Travis Lakins Sr. struck out the side in the sixth. Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless seventh and Miguel Castro got into trouble in the eighth and allowed a run, only to be bailed out by Ruiz’s tremendous play to get him out of the inning.
Cole Sulser, after losing a ninth-inning lead the night before, came in for his fourth save of the season.
“Middle relief is what won us the game for me, Army coming in and doing what he did for one-plus innings, and Lakins with a great inning also,” Hyde said. “We pitched well and we got enough runs to hold on.”
Around the horn
- Hyde said José Iglesias, who was back in the lineup, could be someone who gets frequent days off because of his quadriceps injury.
- Hyde hopes left-hander John Means and right-hander Jorge López, both of whom are in the COVID-19 intake process, could be available soon.