Ranking the Orioles star receiver’s top 10 moments – The Denver Post
Adley Rutschman’s impact isn’t hard to quantify for Brandon Hyde.
“The record speaks for itself,” Hyde said.
From the start of the 2019 season – Hyde’s first as manager of a rebuilding team – until Rutschman’s debut on May 21, 2022, the Orioles have won 34.7% of their games (147-277) . Since the star receiver arrived in the major leagues, Baltimore has won 57.7% of its games (97-71), vying for a playoff spot last year and looking set to do so again this season.
“Our season definitely changed when he came here last year, and I think he played a big part in that,” added the fifth-year manager.
As long as Rutschman is on the Orioles and the club is competitive, May 21 could become something of a holiday. It won’t just be an annual reminder of when the star of the franchise — a No. 1 overall pick and consensus No. 1 prospect — finally arrived, but the moment the Orioles went from cellar dweller to reconstruction to a playoff contender.
It’s been a year since Rutschman first donned an Orioles uniform in a championship game. Here are 10 of his best moments, ranked, from 365 days.
10. First stop caught by Félix Bautista
Rutschman’s performance on August 5 was nothing spectacular, as he went 0-2 with two walks at home plate. But it was what he did at the end of the match that counted.
For the first time, Rutschman caught Bautista in a stoppage situation in the ninth inning.
Bautista, who broke out last season and moved closer to the Orioles after the trade deadline, made a few saves before August’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it was his first with Rutschman behind the plate.
It wasn’t the first time Rutschman had hugged a pitcher late in the game, but it was the first time he had done so after catching a save from Bautista.
Since then, the 6-foot-2 receiver and 6-foot-8 reliever have teamed up to slam the door more than a dozen times, and even added a punch celebration.
9. Little League Classic
As the consensus No. 1 prospect in the sport, Rutschman was well known before stepping onto a major league field. But it was in the birthplace of Little League Baseball that Rutschman first played on the national stage.
On August 21, the Orioles took on the Boston Red Sox at the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for Baltimore’s first televised game since 2018.
Baltimore won, 5-3, and Rutschman went 1 for 4 with a walk. Before the game, Rutschman and other Orioles players spent time with the kids in attendance, even sliding down the iconic hill at Lamade Stadium.
8. Pinch Kick
Until Saturday, Rutschman has played all 46 games. On the few times he didn’t start, Hyde called him a pinch hit.
Fittingly, the young backstop nailed one of his first opportunities off the bench.
On July 16, Baltimore trailed Tampa Bay by one run in the eighth inning. Rutschman’s solo home run tied the game, which the Orioles eventually won, 6-4, in 11 innings. He also hit a sacrifice fly on the 10th.
7. Catch the debut of Grayson Rodriguez
During the scorching days of Reconstruction, many Orioles fans dreamed of the day Rutschman would catch Rodriguez.
They just got this April 5th.
Rodriguez made his major league debut in Texas against the Rangers, and Rutschman, his friend and highly touted prospect, was there to catch him. Rodriguez threw five two-run innings and the Orioles lost, 5-2, but it was the first of what should be many games for the teammates.
About a month later, the two would team up again as they had for most right-handed starts, but this time they led the Orioles to victory. Rodriguez threw a career-high 5 2/3 innings to beat MLB’s best Rays, and Rutschman hit a two-run homer to give the Orioles a lead they wouldn’t give up.
6. First winning move
The home run was just the start.
Two days later, on June 17, Rutschman hit an RBI single in the seventh inning to power the Orioles to a 1-0 win over the Rays.
The RBI was his first at Camden Yards, and the winning shot was the first of his career. Oh, and he also caught all nine innings of Baltimore’s shutout victory through Dean Kremer and three relievers.
5. First Victory
In his second major league game, Rutschman scored the game-winning run on Rougned Odor’s outfielder’s pick in the 11th inning against the Rays.
It was Baltimore’s first win with Rutschman on the roster and the club’s third win in the space of four days.
An inning earlier, Rutschman did something reliever Cionel Pérez had “never experienced before.” After Pérez came out of a jam in the 10th inning of a tie game on May 22, Rutschman, who is known to encounter pitchers near the foul line after innings, chest-butted the southpaw and celebrated with exuberant cries.
4. First Home Run
Rutschman’s start to the rookie season wasn’t perfect. That’s what made him even more impressive as he finished the year as the American League’s Most Valuable Oriole and second Rookie of the Year.
The switch hitter was down a paltry .176/.256/.257 in his first 20 games without an RBI. Then he hit his first home run, and since then he’s not just the Orioles’ best hitter, but one of the best players in the major leagues.
In Toronto, the same place where he celebrates the first anniversary of his debut, Rutschman hit his first home run – smashing a José Berrios fastball from 411 feet to center field on June 15. From that point Rutschman cut .272/. 384/.488.
The long ball was the first of 13 this season and 20 so far in his career.
3. First Home Run
For much of April and early May, the Orioles didn’t lose a streak, winning seven in a row to become the second-best team in the major leagues — a position they still hold.
The first of those series wins came with Rutschman and a majestic home run.
Heading into the ninth inning on April 13, Rutschman hit a fastball 405 feet from right-center field to give the Orioles an 8-7 win over the Oakland Athletics. Rutschman said he “sort of passed out” when he made contact with the ball and rounded the bases – a trip that ended with a bath from two Gatorade coolers.
It was his first home run as a major leaguer and just the second in his life. The explosion brought Baltimore back above 0.500 – a place they have been since.
2. 2023 opening day
He started slowly as a rookie. It would not be the same for his second year.
Rutschman made history in more ways than one on March 30 against the Red Sox in Baltimore’s 10-9 win.
He went 5 for 5 with a home run to become the first batter to do so on Opening Day since 1937. In the live ball era, only Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Billy Herman had recorded five hits without making an out while driving in several runs in their team’s opener. Rutschman had four RBIs.
The 25-year-old also walked, making him the only Oriole to record five hits or reach base six times on Opening Day since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.
On May 20, 2022, Triple-A Norfolk manager Buck Britton called Rutschman into his office to tell the young receiver he was heading to Baltimore to make his debut. Some of his Tides teammates – a few of whom have since debuted – rushed in, grabbing Rutschman and celebrating at the office.
A day later, Rutschman entered the Camden Yards field as a major leaguer for the first time. Before entering his receiver’s squat, he inspected his new office – later saying he wanted to ‘soak it all in’.
The Oriole Park crowd cheered Rutschman at every opportunity — none more so than when he recorded his first career hit, a triple down the right field line.
The Orioles lost the game, 6-1, to the Tampa Bay Rays, but a new era in Baltimore baseball was born.
“I’ve said so many good things about him, and rightly so, but he handled it so well,” Hyde said on Saturday when asked about Rutschman’s debut. “For a guy that young, being able to handle the spotlight like that and the anticipation of what he’s going to look like in the major leagues, what he’s going to bring to our team. He’s just a pro. He’s been everything as advertised and so much more – the kind of person he is as well as the player he is.