Adley Rutschman Homers, Grayson Rodriguez counts as his longest outing against the Rays

BALTIMORE — While sitting in the Orioles dugout on Tuesday afternoon and looking out over the Camden Yards, general manager Mike Elias acknowledged this week’s series saga against the eastern American League rival Rays. For a Baltimore rookie, it’s a good “measuring stick” to take on a better MLB team.

In the earlier years of Elias’ tenure, the Grayson Rodriguez-Adley Rutschman battery – then ascended to the Minors – offered hope that the O’s could eventually compete with the best again. Now, the duo has become the main reason why they can.

On Tuesday night, Rodriguez converted in his longest of seven major league games, and Roachman hit a go-ahead homer to lead the Orioles to a 4-2 victory over the Rays. Snapping their three-game losing streak to Baltimore season (23-13), they recorded their 13th victory of the season.

Tampa Bay (29-8) lost for only the second time in 25 games in which it scored first this year.

O’ fans waited years to see Rodriguez (No. 11 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft) pitch to Rutschman (No. 1 pick in 19) on the big league stage before the 23-year-old right fielder joined Rutschman’s squad. A 25-year-old catcher in the Majors last month. These kinds of shows are what you picture.

“I’d like to see a lot more of that. I think everyone, all the fans, would,” said manager Brandon Hyde.

For the first time in his Major League Youth League career, Rodriguez took the lead at sixth. He pitched Harold Ramirez to ground out Luke Raleigh before singled Isaac Paredes on Rodriguez’s 101st and final pitch of the night. He never pitched more than 100 pitches in a game in five professional seasons.

Elias earlier praised Rodriguez for being “very brave” so far, and the right-hander again had a challenging outing, with at least one man on base in every inning. For those times, it helps when he has a familiar target.

“I’ve been shooting for Adele since I was 19. He knows me so well,” Rodriguez said. “It’s my good fortune to be behind the plate. And of course, when he’s swinging the bat really well, hitting balls out of the yard, it’s so much fun.”

Roachman provided the decisive hit of the game. The 25-year-old catcher gave Baltimore a 3-1 lead in the third with Statcast’s projected 407-foot homer. He caught an 0-for-19 sled with Danger, which marked the first time in his career landing on Eutaw Street, located behind the right flag field and in front of the Depot.

When asked about Rochman’s influence over the past year, Elias pointed to the Orioles’ 90-68 record since the backstop debuted on May 21, 2022. He has positively impacted every aspect of the club with his solid hitting, reliable defense and impressive management of the show team. Like Rodriguez, Roachman only gets better with experience.

“We’ve been playing good baseball the last few days,” Rochman said. “I like the way we played, the way we keep playing, we’ll just keep trying and improving and doing our job.”

Over the winter and in spring training, Elias repeatedly mentioned Baltimore’s postseason aspirations for 2023. He did the same on Tuesday, maintaining a “very good chance of making the playoffs.” How could they not, considering all the emerging young talent?

It may still be early days, but as Rodriguez and Ruchman helped establish, the Orioles now hold their own in the formidable Mideast. They’re out to show it against the Rays, and they’ll aim to do so again by taking the series in Wednesday’s rubber game.

“These games count a little more than the games that don’t have a division, and whether those games take place in May or September, the games count the same,” Elias said. “These guys played like the best team in baseball right now, so I definitely think our team is looking at this with a certain mindset.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *