KANSAS CITY — Thursday’s thriller proved to be a challenge the Orioles could handle. Now it’s time for them to face even tougher tests the rest of May.
With an unlikely 13-10 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Baltimore earned its seventh consecutive series victory. The O’s won 17 of 22 games during that span, which featured matchups against the A’s, White Sox, Nationals, Tigers, Red Sox and Royals – all opponents with a record under .500. with the exception of Boston.
The final victory of this streak was not easy. Baltimore had an 8-1 lead over Kansas City in the third inning and then missed it, as the Royals fell back and took a 9-8 lead with a two-run seventh. But the Orioles responded immediately, rallying for a pair of runs in the eighth, with Ramón Urías’ two-run single pushing them ahead. He then helped inflate the lead with a two-run brace in a three-run ninth.
According to Baseball Savant, Baltimore had a 96% chance of winning after Gunnar Henderson’s two-run homer pushed their lead to 8-1 in third. That then swung heavily in favor of Kansas City, who had an 85% chance of securing the victory heading into the eighth. Urías’ kickoff brought it down to 79% for the O’s, who made it 100% when Félix Bautista knocked out Hunter Dozier and blocked two Royals base runners in scoring position to put it there END.
“It’s a bit like going to the dentist,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Unfortunately we let them back in the game. But give our guys a ton of credit for not crashing, sticking with it and really grinding those last two innings to put some points on the board. The character definitely wins.
Baltimore (21-10) may need more of this type of win as its next 22 games will be against teams with a winning record – the Braves (22-10), Rays (26-6), Pirates (20-12), Angels (18-14), Blue Jays (18-13 entering Thursday), Yankees (17-15) and Rangers (18-12).
The O’s believe they’ve proven they can hold on to high-level competition.
“We’ve shown we’re a good baseball team,” second baseman Adam Frazier said before Thursday’s game, in which he reached base four times and scored four runs. “It doesn’t matter who you play against – if you win games every night you have a pretty good team. Everyone knows we can hit the ball and throw the ball. So I don’t think anyone is picking on us. slight in terms of talent.
Neither should they. Not when Baltimore also has the kind of resilience it just showed.
The Orioles built their 8-1 lead over Royals starter Jordan Lyles (who pitched for Baltimore in 2022) via Anthony Santander’s two-run homer in the first, Cedric Mullins’ three-run brace in the second, Jorge Mateo’s RBI single in the third and Henderson’s two-run outburst that followed. But Baltimore right-hander Grayson Rodriguez couldn’t stop Kansas City from rallying.
Rodriguez (the O’s No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline) made his sixth major league start, allowing six runs in 3 2/3 innings. The Royals cut their deficit, scoring at least a point in every frame from second to fifth. Kyle Isbel’s RBI single tied the game at 8 in the seventh, with Bobby Witt Jr. putting KC ahead, 9-8, with an RBI hit against Yennier Cano.
“We were a bit upset because we had an early lead, but that’s part of the game,” Urías said. “Sometimes we will struggle like this, and we have to fight until the end.”
The O’s remained calm – which is never a problem for the mild-mannered Urías – and believed they had the offensive capability to respond. It’s easy for them to have that kind of confidence, considering they’ve come from behind in 11 of their first 21 wins.
Now, Baltimore’s 10-game season road trip wraps up this weekend in Atlanta, where the Orioles take on the mighty Braves. But the O’s aren’t backing down from a formidable challenge. They never do these days.
That confidence stems from Baltimore’s successful 83-win 2022 season, which has often been cited around the clubhouse as a reason for the quick start to 23. The Orioles have learned to win — even if it’s not always from the nicest of ways – so they’re not intimidated by the tough schedule ahead of them.
” We can not wait to be there. I think we’ll find out what we’re made of,” Frazier said. “You want to play against the best teams — it’s more fun, there are usually more people in the stands. That’s what you play for, it’s to be the best. So to do that, you have to beat the best.