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Orioles hold on to beat Astros, 5-4, avoid sweep behind Adley Rutschman’s leadoff homer and stellar defense

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The opening batter in each half of the first inning featured impressive feats from Orioles players.

To lead off the game, third baseman Ramón Urías made a diving play at third base to steal an extra-base hit from Houston Astros leadoff hitter José Altuve — the first of several superb plays by starting pitcher Dean Kremer’s defense. To begin the bottom half, Adley Rutschman hit a leadoff home run that narrowly cleared Camden Yards’ rarely conquered left field wall to become just the second left-handed batter to do so since the strange dimensions were put in place last year.

Coming off back-to-back ugly losses, the good start on defense and offense put the Orioles on the right path to beat the defending World Series champion Astros, 5-4, and avoid a sweep for the 76th straight series. The bullpen continued to show cracks, allowing a run in both the eighth and ninth as the Astros cut a three-run lead to one, but closer Félix Bautista got Jon Singleton to pop out with the bases loaded to seal the victory.

Kremer continued his success against Houston with seven innings of two-run ball, and left fielder Ryan O’Hearn, second baseman Adam Frazier and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle aided the right-hander with web gems of their own. Mountcastle remained scorching hot with a two-run home run in the seventh, and so did James McCann with an RBI single in the third and a leadoff double in the sixth before scoring on a single by Rutschman.

In the series’ first two games, the Orioles’ relief corps combined to allow 10 runs, including Tuesday’s loss when Bautista surrendered a go-ahead grand slam to Kyle Tucker. But Yennier Cano worked out of Cionel Pérez’s jam to strand two in the eighth, and while Bautista looked shaky again, he slammed the door for his 31st save of the season.

Baltimore (71-44) hasn’t been swept since May 2022, the fourth-longest streak in MLB history.

Around the horn

  • Manager Brandon Hyde said left-hander Cole Irvin will likely start the Orioles’ game Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. Rather than starting on turn Saturday, Kyle Bradish will toe the rubber Sunday. Kyle Gibson starts Friday.
  • Hyde also said the Orioles will likely move to a six-man rotation with Irvin rejoining the group from the bullpen. Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer have all surpassed or are nearing their single-season highs in innings, and Hyde said the extra starting pitcher is a way to manage their workloads better.
  • Tyler Wells is starting Saturday for Double-A Bowie as he continues his progression back to Baltimore after the Orioles optioned him to the minors for a “reset,” Hyde said in late July.
  • Veterans Aaron Hicks and Gibson both achieved 10 years of MLB service time this week, a feat that fewer than 10% of big leaguers accomplish. The milestone is also important, as the 10-year mark is when players’ pensions become fully vested. “It’s such an incredible accomplishment,” Hyde said. “To be able to stay in this game in this league for 10 years takes an incredible amount of talent and determination and will. … It says a lot about their character, honestly, and those two guys are fantastic clubhouse guys, fantastic leaders, and they’ve had good careers.”
  • Luis Almeyda, a 17-year-old shortstop the Orioles gave a franchise-record $2.3 million signing bonus to in January, underwent surgery on his left shoulder Thursday and will miss the rest of the season, the club announced. Almeyda, the club’s No. 25 prospect according to Baseball America, went 11-for-58 (.190 average) with two home runs to begin his career in the Dominican Summer League. The team said he’s expected to be ready for the start of the 2024 season.
  • Baseball America updated the Orioles’ top 30 prospects list to include players selected in the 2023 draft. First-round outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. tops the newcomers at No. 9, sandwiched between left-hander DL Hall (No. 8) and outfielder Jud Fabian (No. 10). Right-handed pitcher Jackson Baumeister (Competitive Balance Round B), outfielder/third baseman Mac Horvath (second round) and right-hander Kiefer Lord also made the list at Nos. 16, 18 and 27, respectively.

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