Clutch Rutschman (Athletics at Orioles; 04.13.23)

Yusuf Abdullah/ALOST

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

BALTIMORE — It has now gotten to the point that anything Adley Rutschman does on a baseball field, even before finishing his first full calendar year of Major League service, should not surprise any baseball observer. His latest “first” on Thursday afternoon was only a matter of time before everyone got to see it happen…even if Rutschman has no idea what was happening when he did it.

Rutschman made the most of the final swing of the game on THursday, cracking a walk-off home run to right in the bottom of the ninth to give the Baltimore Orioles a dramatic 8-7 victory over the Oakland Athletics inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Adding to a slew of clutch hits he already amassed during the home stand that either tied the game or gave his team the lead, Rutschman ended the Orioles’ first stretch at home with his first career walk-off hit.

Orioles closer Félix Bautista pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning before Baltimore wasted no time in ending proceedings in the bottom half, as Rutschman took a 1-0 fastball from A’s reliever Trevor May and deposited it six rows deep into the right-centerfield bleachers. In the most memorable moment of his big league career so far, Rutschman, who made his big league debut on May 21 of last season, barely remembered what actually happened as a cacophony of noise and all of his teammates surrounded him as he crossed home plate.

“Honestly, I just kind of blacked out,” said Rutschman, who hit his fourth home run of the new campaign. “It’s one of those moments that you hit it and you just kind of start running, because you don’t know what’s going on.”

It’s obvious that what is going on is the coming of age of one of the young superstars in Major League Baseball, who currently sports .373 batting average that is good for third in the American League.

Another slugfest broke out between the two teams, two days after the Orioles came back from a 7-4 deficit to win a 12-8 affair. A three-run bottom of the second inning for Baltimore, highlighted by a two-run single by Ryan O’Hearn, was answered with three runs by the Athletics in the next half inning, with Brent Rooker cracking a three-run jack to center field to give the A’s a 4-3 lead.

Baltimore responded in the bottom half of the third with four more runs, with Ryan Mountcastle starting the rally with his sixth homer of the season, a solo shot to tie the game at 4. After Baltimore extended the lead to 7-4, Oakland made sure that runs were scored in four consecutive half innings, as Esteury Ruiz’s two run single with the bases loaded brought the Athletics within 7-6. In the fifth, Rooker hit his second homer of the game to tie the game at 7-7.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday afternoon’s contest, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. 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 10 pictures in total.

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