Adley Rutschman has arrived.
Of course, baseball’s hottest prospect and the Orioles’ farming system made it to the majors just over a month ago. But the player who inspired all that hype has been bubbling over the past few days, surging to the surface in Thursday night’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox. Rutschman homered and added an RBI double to provide Baltimore’s first three runs and grabbed the Orioles’ third shutout in six games in a 4-0 win at guaranteed rate field.
The performance was the biggest proof yet that Rutschman’s bat is approaching the high expectations placed on him when baseball’s top prospect first joined the Orioles (32-39). Over the past two weeks, Rutschman has hit .326/.370/.651, with 10 of his 14 hits for extra bases. Baltimore is 16-15 years since promotion to the majors.
He broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. With one out, Ryan Mountcastle — who entered the game tied for the American League lead in extra hits for the month — doubled up, taking third place on an outfield error. That extra base proved meaningless, with Rutschman driving a Johnny Cueto cutter thrown 402 feet from right field at 107 mph for his second major league home run.
Another shot from Mountcastle in the sixth chased Cueto and set two for Rutschman, who whipped Reynaldo Lopez’s third pitch to the first base line. He marked Austin Hays, who offensively couldn’t match the cycle he posted on Wednesday but who once again dazzled defensively.
Rutschman, too, was snappy with his glove, catching Dean Kremer’s second consecutive shutout start and the scoreless innings of Félix Bautista, Dillon Tate and Jorge López behind him. After throwing six clear frames in his previous outing and 5 2/3 more on Thursday, Kremer became just the third Oriole since 2019 with consecutive scoreless starts of at least five innings.
Hays again… and again
If word of not running on Hays’ arm in the outfield is spreading around the league, he apparently hasn’t made his way to Chicago yet.
After kicking out a runner at third base while playing center field on Wednesday, Hays kept a run off the Kremer line with a perfect home run half an inning past Rutschman’s homer. He hadn’t finished defensively, diving through the chalk from the right field line to catch Jake Burger’s volley in the eighth.
Hays’ six assists to the outfield are the second-most in the majors, behind only Cleveland outfielder Myles Straw’s eight. Baltimore’s 16 assists are tied with the Texas Rangers for most of any team.
Hays’ night was part of a collective Orioles outfield defensive showcase, with center fielder Cedric Mullins and left fielder Anthony Santander also going for several tough catches to support Baltimore’s pitching staff. Mullins provided Baltimore’s final run with an RBI single in ninth.
around the horn
>> Right-hander Spenser Watkins only pitched one inning in Wednesday’s start for Triple-A Norfolk because the Orioles consider him an option for Saturday’s opener in their rotation, manager Brandon Hyde said .
>> Orioles prospect Terrin Vavra homered to open Norfolk’s game, but left after being hit in the head with a pitch in his next plate appearance.
>> Right-hander Matt Harvey pitched six scoreless innings for High-A Aberdeen on his 2022 debut. Harvey, under minor league contract, is serving a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy until July 7 , but is capable of throwing at lower levels than Triple-A before that.
>>The Orioles traded minor league infielder Patrick Dorrian to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash.
This story will be updated.
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