Business as Unusual (Rockies at Orioles; 08.26.23)

Elliott Brown/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BALTIMORE — Baltimore Orioles fans who got their hands on tonight’s promotion at the park gazed at both the embodiment of the team’s remarkable turnaround to become one of the best teams in baseball and the foreboding dark cloud hanging over the team’s future prospects going into the season’s home stretch. On the first night without their closer, the Orioles closed out another victory in come-from-behind fashion.

Ryan Mountcastle hit a go-ahead two-run double as part of a three-run sixth inning while Kyle Bradish continued his strong month of August on the mound, pitching into the seventh inning, as the Orioles defeated the Rockies 5-4 inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday evening. Yennier Cano, the team’s All-Star setup man, came on in the ninth to close the 40th come-from-behind win for Baltimore this season, tied for the most such wins in Major League Baseball with Cincinnati.

Tonight, on Félix Bautista bobblehead night, was the first game since Bautista injured his elbow on the penultimate pitch of Baltimore’s win yesterday, coming out of the contest with what was described earlier today as an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament — the same ligament operated on during Tommy John surgery. While the extend of the injury is unknown at the moment, the letters “U-C-L” instill dread that one of the game’s best closers, and a legitimate candidate for the AL’s Cy Young Award, might be lost for an extended period of time.

Once again, however, the Orioles were once again able to manage another close victory, something it has specialized in all season long. It all started with Bradish, who allowed two runs in the third inning but was otherwise sharp in his six-plus innings of work, striking out eight batters and allowing six hits. Baltimore’s rally in the bottom of the sixth allowed Bradish to pick up his ninth win of the season, and he ends the month of August with a 3-0 record with a 2.12 ERA in five starts. Baltimore won all five of Bradish’s starts in the month.

“He threw outstanding,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He just had that one tough inning. Once again, great curveball, great slider, overpowering fastball.”

Once the Orioles took a 4-2 lead in the sixth, and Bradish was removed from the game after giving up a lead-off double in the seventh, the Orioles went about clinging on to the lead knowing the Bautista would not be available. Lefty Danny Coulombe came in and struck out back-to-back Rockies hitters, Michael Toglia and Brenton Doyle, before walking Charlie Blackmon. With runners on first and second, Jacob Webb came in and recorded the final out of the inning on a fly out.

Baltimore added a run in the bottom of the seventh, an RBI double by Anthony Santander, and it needed that insurance after Webb allowed a walk and an RBI double to Elias Diaz to begin the eighth and reduce the Orioles’ lead to 5-3. Recently recalled reliever DL Hall came in and allowed a bunt single to Nolan Jones to put runners on first and third. Hall was able to induce a double play from Brendan Rodgers, which scored a run, before getting Alan Trejo to fly out to preserve Baltimore’s one-run lead.

Cano, the obvious replacement for Bautista for the time being, came on in the ninth, and his only hiccup came before he threw a pitch. The umpires inspected Cano’s glove upon coming in from the bullpen and determined that he needed to wear a new glove. From there, Cano retired the Rockies in order in the ninth to earn his fifth save.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Elliott Brown. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.

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