Innings like that can sink a team.
The Orioles led 4-2 to begin the fifth Sunday, but a questionable call by the umpiring crew sparked a game-tying rally by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Baltimore made sure the ruling didn’t matter, though, scoring four runs in the sixth en route to an 8-5 victory for a series win.
Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman and Jordan Westburg each delivered RBI hits in the sixth, and the Orioles’ bullpen followed starter Jack Flaherty with 4 1/3 solid innings.
“They’re good players, we have a good team,” manager Brandon Hyde said when asked about his team’s ability to handle adversity. “I thought we responded really well after we didn’t get a call on an out-of-the-baseline situation, and kind of unfortunate there. But I loved the way our team responded offensively.”
In the fifth, Flaherty induced a potential ground ball double play, but the play ended with zero outs still on the scoreboard. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson fielded the ball on the second base side of the bag, ran to tag base runner Geraldo Perdomo and threw the ball to first, but Perdomo avoided the tag and Corbin Carroll was safe at first.
Perdomo appeared to run out of the base path on the play, but second base umpire Tom Hanahan ruled he didn’t. The play was reviewed to see if Henderson made the tag, but whether Perdomo was out of the base path isn’t a reviewable play in MLB. Hyde said he didn’t receive an explanation from the umpires because managers aren’t permitted to argue replay reviews.
Ketel Marte then hit an RBI single to cut the Orioles’ lead in half, and a wild pitch by Flaherty brought in the tying run. Flaherty limited the damage by getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to fly out and Evan Longoria to strike out, and left-handed Danny Coulombe stranded a runner on second with an inning-ending groundout.
A day after scoring six runs on seven straight hits in a win, the Orioles put up another crooked number to bounce back from the fifth. Ryan O’Hearn led off with a 104.9 mph double off Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, a contender for the National League Cy Young Award, and scored on a single from Mullins.
“There in the fifth, kind of a weird inning there,” Flaherty said. “But Danny did a good job of keeping it right there at 4-4 and the guys came out and put up four more after that. Everybody did their job coming out of the pen, and that was huge. These guys put up eight runs in a game when Gallen’s pitching, that’s huge.”
Mullins’ ground ball deflected off the glove of Marte, who was playing on the infield grass at second base with O’Hearn on third. After a Ramón Urías single, Westburg pinch hit for Adam Frazier against left-handed reliever Kyle Nelson and smacked an RBI double down the left field line.
Rutschman then doubled the Orioles’ advantage with a two-run double that ricocheted off first baseman Pavin Smith’s glove into the outfield.
After struggling offensively Friday in a 4-2 loss, the Orioles tallied 25 hits and 15 runs Saturday and Sunday. The loss Friday was Baltimore’s second in a row; it hasn’t lost three straight since late June.
“I don’t think there is a secret,” Westburg said about the team’s ability to bounce back from losses. “You brush off the losses and you come back tomorrow with a brand new mindset. It’s a new day. I think everybody in this clubhouse trusts the offense, all the hitters trust themselves and know that we’re good enough to put up 10 runs on a given night.”
Left-handers Coulombe and Cionel Pérez and old friend Jorge López each pitched scoreless innings. Yennier Cano, filling in as the Orioles’ closer for the injured Félix Bautista, allowed a solo home run to former Oriole Christian Walker before slamming the door in the ninth. The earned run was the first Cano surrendered since July 31.
Baltimore (85-51) has won eight of its past 11 games and is 28-13-3 in its 44 series this season. The series win is the Orioles’ first at Chase Field, which opened in 1998 when Arizona was granted an NL expansion team, in five tries.
The win keeps the Orioles 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays atop the American League standings with 26 contests remaining.
Flaherty’s start Sunday was an important one for the right-hander and the team. John Means will likely return to the Orioles this upcoming weekend when his minor league rehabilitation assignment ends, potentially adding another arm into the six-man rotation mix. Flaherty is also one of several veteran starters vying for a spot in the club’s rotation in the postseason, should it qualify.
But the base runner ruling that altered the course of the fifth inning also marred Flaherty’s start, making it difficult to judge. In his first four innings, Flaherty allowed four hits, two runs on solo homers to Gurriel and Carroll, and struck out six. But he left the mound without completing the fifth and four runs to his name.
“I thought he battled,” Hyde said. “That play alone there with kind of a lack of a call made it tough on him. … But I thought he was fine. He battled in the fifth, and then I think our bullpen was fantastic.”
In five starts since Baltimore traded three of its top 20 prospects to the St. Louis Cardinals for him, Flaherty has a 6.66 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 24 1/3 innings. He’s failed to record a quality start since his first outing in Toronto.
Baltimore’s bats provided four runs to Flaherty in the first two innings with a pair of two-run singles — the first from O’Hearn to open the game, the next from Gunnar Henderson in the second. O’Hearn went 2-for-5 with four batted balls over 99 mph, according to Statcast tracking data. The veteran is leading the Orioles in batting average (.300) and OPS (.829) in his first year with the club.
“Oh, my God, he has just been a force in the middle of our order,” Hyde said. “The at-bats he takes, the attitude he brings every single day, he’s such a pro. He gives you four good at-bats a game it seems like. He’s been a huge lift for us.”
The Orioles look to win their sixth straight series against the Los Angeles Angels beginning Monday with the first of three games in Anaheim.
Around the horn
- First baseman Ryan Mountcastle was in the lineup Sunday after missing the first two games of the series. Hyde said Saturday that Mountcastle was feeling “under the weather” but wouldn’t say whether the symptoms were related to vertigo, with which the slugger missed a month earlier this season.
- Switch-hitter Anthony Santander was also in the lineup after exiting Saturday’s contest in the ninth when he was hit by a 94.7 mph fastball on the right hand. Santander was initially scared but is happy he has “pretty good bones in my hand,” he said with a laugh Sunday morning. “Never want to see a guy get hit there,” Hyde said. “I don’t want to see anyone get hit anywhere right now, makes me nervous. Whenever it’s a hand situation, there’s so many bones in the hand with not much protection. Definitely dodged a bullet there.
Orioles at Angels
Monday, 9:38 p.m.
TV: MASN, FS1
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM