Adley Rutschman comes up clutch in 9th inning before Orioles walk-off Rangers, 7-6

Andy Kostka, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

BALTIMORE — Moments earlier, as Jorge López made his way slowly off the mound, Adley Rutschman did what he always does. He waited for the Orioles right-hander, put his arm around him and helped him to the dugout after López allowed his third homer in the last four days.

Rutschman takes it upon himself to pick up his pitchers — to celebrate their highs and reduce their lows. López needed it in that moment, having allowed the Texas Rangers to take a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning Monday.

But Rutschman went further than a pat on the back. With two outs in the bottom half of the frame, the catcher’s drive off the right field wall scored Ryan McKenna from first base. He not only picked up López, who desperately needed a break, he picked up the Orioles, forcing extra innings to make a walk-off hit by pitch possible to end the 7-6 victory.

In the bottom of the 10th, Rougned Odor’s bunt single led to an intentional walk of Ramón Urías. Then, left-hander Matt Moore plunked Jorge Mateo to drive home Austin Hays from third. All that madness was possible because of Rutschman’s swing an inning earlier, turning a third straight rough outing for López into a win.

The slump of López’s shoulders was the first sign that he knew. The ball off Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien’s bat — turning on an inside sinker — left the park in a hurry. Before López took the mound Friday against the Minnesota Twins, the right-handed closer had pitched 37 innings without allowing a home run. He had given up just three earned runs in that stretch.

And yet, the unraveling of López’s campaign began there, with a walk-off homer from Byron Buxton. The next day featured more of the same: two runs on four hits for another blown save.


López had Sunday off, but in a big spot Monday against Texas, entering with the game tied at 5, López served up another long ball as part of a befuddling stretch for the potential All-Star. Few relievers have been as dominant as López this season. That’s how he’s earned the closer role. But López’s form is concerning.

It wasn’t all down to him, of course. The Orioles were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position Monday and are 7-for-54 in those situations over the last eight games. Right-hander Dean Kremer stumbled for the first time in four starts, building a hole Baltimore still found a way out of with the help of an error in the sixth inning.

Then came the 10th, when Mateo had help from Hays and Cedric Mullins to walk down the line after his walk-off plunking to the thigh.

All things must pass


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