Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Adley Rutschman homers, outfield defense dazzles in Orioles’ 4-0 win over White Sox

Here comes Adley Luchman.

Of course, the top prospects in baseball and the Orioles’ farm system entered the major leagues more than a month ago. But the players who inspired all the hype in recent days have been bubbling up, going all out in Thursday night’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox. Rutschman homered and added an RBI double to supply Baltimore’s first three games and grabbed the Orioles’ third suspension in six games in a 4-0 win at guaranteed rate.

“He’s the kind of talent who can change the dynamic of the club in the warm-up, and he’s going to change very quickly,” said starting pitcher Dean Kremer. “Whether it’s behind the plate or on the plate, he’s absolutely A game changer.”

The performance is the strongest evidence yet that Luchman’s bat is approaching the lofty expectations he had when he first joined the Orioles (32-39). Over the past two weeks, Rutschman is batting .326/.370/.651 with 10 of his 14 hits hitting extra bases. Baltimore is 16-15 since promoting him to the majors.

“I’m a very process-oriented person,” Rutschman said. “I’m going to keep trying and get better every day. It’s a learning process, and baseball has a lot of ups and downs. You just want to be as consistent as possible.”

Manager Brandon Hyde added: “Any young player – he’s really talented – there’s always going to be an adjustment period in the big leagues. He’ll have his ups and downs, but he’s got great tools and a lot of Ability. You saw strength tonight. And he just got blocked. He’s a rookie. It’s his second in a week, so he’s great.”

He hit a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. After one out, Ryan Mountcastle — who is tied for the American League lead this month in outfield hits — doubled down to third on outfield errors. The added base proved pointless, and Rutschman drove the Johnny Cueto cutter to 107 mph in 402 feet in right field for his second major league homer.

Another Muncastle knock in the sixth inning went after Cuito and hit two for Luchman, who knocked down Reynaldo Lopez’s third pitch to the first baseline. It scored Austin Hayes, who couldn’t match the cycle he posted Wednesday on offense, but dazzled again on defense.

Rutschman’s gloves were also sharp, as he caught Kremer’s second straight suspended start and scoreless runs provided by Félix Bautista, Dillon Tate and Jorge López behind him. Kramer pitched six clean innings in the last game and threw another 5 2/3 on Thursday, becoming the third Orioles since 2019 to go without a score in at least five straight innings. Rutschman helps him navigate the base’s traffic all night.

“For me, he likes to keep it light,” Kramer said. “Like, we laughed and giggle, anyway, even at some of the worst times.”

It marked the seventh time Baltimore has been shut out in its first 71 games, the most in that span for the club in 25 years. Rutschman has caught three of his past four games.

“I think whether you have a good day at the plate or a bad day at the plate, there’s always something that can contribute to the team, whether you play or not,” Rutschman said. “It’s the kind of controllable aspect that I try to think about every day, whether you’re in double-A, triple-A or the majors, it’s consistent. I don’t think it’s really changing as you might think.”

Hayes again…and again

If word of not running on Hayes’ arm in the outfield is spreading around the league, it doesn’t appear to have reached Chicago.

After pitching a runner at third base Wednesday at halftime, Hayes kept a run on Kremer’s line with a perfect pitch in the second half of Rutschman’s homer. He didn’t finish the defense, jumping into the chalk on the right field line in the eighth to catch Jackberg’s fly.

Hayes’ six outfield assists are second in the majors, behind only Cleveland outfielder Miles Straw’s eight. Baltimore’s 16 outfield assists are tied with the Texas Rangers for the most of any team.

“He has so much carry, and then accuracy, you just don’t see that often,” Hyde said. “It felt like he was defending every night, and he did it twice tonight.”

Hayes’ night was part of a collective defensive display in the Orioles’ outfield, with center fielder Cedric Mullins and left fielder Anthony Santander also making a couple of tough catches to support Baltimore’s pitchers. Mullins provided an RBI single for Baltimore’s final game in the ninth.

“They’re playing Golden Glove defense,” Hyde said. “They won our game tonight defensively.”

around the horn

>> Right-hander Austin Voss will start his second start for the Orioles on Friday to fill Baltimore’s vacant rotation. Rookie Kyle Bradish will start Saturday.

>> Orioles prospect Terrin Vavra homered to open Norfolk’s game, but left after being hit to the head in his next plate outing.

>> Right-hander Matt Harvey pitched six scoreless innings for High-A Aberdeen in his 2022 debut. Harvey, under contract with the minor leagues, was suspended until July 7 for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, but before that he pitched below 3A.

>> The Orioles trade minor league infielder Patrick Dorian to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash.

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