Turning the Page (Rangers at Orioles; 06.27.24)

Tim Rice (Tag The Shooter)/ALOST

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

BALTIMORE — No, the latest edition of the Baltimore Orioles playing Home Run Derby won’t change last year’s history books, nor will it change the sting from having their magical 2023 season ended rudely by last night’s opponent, on the way to its first-ever World Series title. Instead, the Orioles sort of turned Camden Yards into their own rage room, smashing baseballs again and again and all around the park to let out some frustration for what they were not able to achieve a few months ago — while still on course to getting a shot at redemption once fall arrives.

In their first matchup since Texas swept Baltimore in last year’s American League Division Series, the Orioles slugged four more home runs in cruising to an 11-2 victory on Thursday night, winning their second straight contest. Heston Kjerstad’s two-run shot in the third inning broke the game open, while Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser also went deep in support of Corbin Burnes, who allowed a run in seven innings of work.

Before today’s matchup, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde opened up about how last season’s defeat at the hands of the Rangers, who won the first two games in Baltimore before finishing off the sweep in Arlington last October, affected the team as it entered the offseason without a win in the 2023 postseason after a 101-win regular season and an AL East Division title.

“I think we’re going to remember. That feeling sat with us for a long time, and they played great against us,” Hyde said. “Those three losses stayed with us for a while.”

Baltimore hopes that things will be different this time around in 2024, and a number of key contributors in tonight’s win point to the changes from last season, starting with the Orioles possessing a bona fide ace in Burnes after acquiring him from the Brewers in the offseason. Though he allowed nine hits, Burnes regularly pitched out of trouble as he stranded seven runners on base in his seven innings.

Burnes also had help from his defense in the middle of allowing singles to the first three batters he faced in the game. Rutschman threw out leadoff hitter Marcus Semien while the latter tried to steal second base, stunting a potential Rangers rally to start the game. With runners on first and second and one out, Burnes struck out Adolis García before getting Wyatt Langford to ground out to end the threat.

The bottom of the first highlighted another big difference between 2023 and now: the Orioles’ ballyhooed position-player prospects who are quickly becoming established Major League players. Kjerstad pulled a ground ball from Texas starter Jon Gray into right field with runners at the corners and two outs to drive in the first run of the game and record his first RBI this season. The next batter, Jordan Westburg, drove in two more with a double to right-centerfield to give the Orioles a 3-0. Westburg, who made his Major League debut a year ago yesterday, now has 48 runs driven in on the season.

The Orioles broke it open in the third with another three-run frame, with Ryan Mountcastle’s sacrifice fly giving Baltimore a 4-0 lead. Kjerstad followed with his first home run of the year (and the third of his career) to straightaway centerfield, a two-run blast to give the Orioles a six-run advantage.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s game, with photos taken by DC-area photographer Tim Rice. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page, Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 27 pictures in total.

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Tags : Baltimore OriolesMajor League BaseballTexas Rangers

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