The first time they chanted his name, the hyped-up crowd of nearly 28,000 filling Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time since April, the letdown had been felt with a groan and the slam of a bat.
But with two outs in the ninth, as the fans rose to their feet and the pressure rose with them, catcher Adley Rutschman came to the plate and wasn’t rattled. He didn’t look like a 24-year-old rookie in front of the largest crowd he’s ever played for. The elevated fastball, the sixth pitch of the at-bat, leapt off his bat and split the right-center gap for a run-scoring double, giving the Orioles — and their fans — a breath of life.
Cedric Mullins took that breath and turned it into the game-tying single, sending Rutschman home from second. And that breath turned into a triumphant one when Trey Mancini sent a drive over the left fielder’s head to secure a come-from-behind 5-4 victory.
He rounded first, spiked his helmet and was met by hugs and the kind of noise that hasn’t been heard at Camden Yards all season — or in years, for that matter. Down to their last out, the Orioles tied together four straight hits, beginning with Rougned Odor and continuing with Rutschman, Mullins and Mancini.
The madness of it all gave Baltimore a season-high six-game winning streak, creeping them closer to a wild-card spot no one in or out of the organization had targeted this season.
There were missed opportunities earlier, as three Orioles struck out in the seventh with a runner on third base. Then Baltimore got within one run in the eighth inning, when Mullins led off with a double, moved to third on a flyout from Mancini and scored on a single from first baseman Ryan Mountcastle.
That deficit grew again once Shohei Ohtani hit a solo homer in the ninth. But it wound up not mattering, with another comeback victory in the books that kept the crowd cheering long after the final out.
It was the Orioles’ eighth walk-off win of the season — and the third in five days — second only to the New York Yankees’ 10.
The stars go yard
A day earlier, Mike Trout was left as the latest victim of the new left field dimensions inside Camden Yards. He had lashed a liner toward that mammoth fence, yet Austin Hays tracked the ball down for an out when it might’ve been a home run in years past.
But Trout’s reputation against the Orioles precedes him. That new wall wasn’t going to stop him for long.
And in the third inning Friday, the Angels outfielder throttled a hanging slider from right-hander Tyler Wells up and over the foul pole in left — although the three-run blast would’ve cleared most parts of Walltimore.
Trout has made a habit of this. In his 63 career games against Baltimore, Trout has launched 23 homers — a homer in 36.5% of his games, the highest rate against any foe he’s faced nine times or more.
Beyond that blast, however, Wells wasn’t in danger much. It wasn’t his crispest outing, as he lasted four innings — his shortest start in over a month — having allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
The Angels’ offense didn’t manage much against the bullpen until Ohtani clobbered a solo homer with two outs in the ninth off right-hander Dillon Tate to extend the Angels’ lead to two runs once more. But two runs wasn’t enough, not with a two-out rally in the ninth.
A big draw
Perhaps it was the floppy hat giveaway. Maybe it was the Orioles’ five-game winning streak, their longest since 2020. In all likelihood, it was a combination of the two.
Fans came out in droves to Camden Yards on Friday, with an announced attendance of 27,814 — the most since April 16 against the Yankees and the fourth largest this season. After drawing crowds of fewer than 8,000 fans for the final two wins against the Texas Rangers, a prized giveaway, a star-studded opponent and a more competitive ballclub brought Camden Yards to life.
In the fifth inning, when fans around the stadium did the wave, there weren’t gaping holes between sections. In the lower bowl, the sea of orange floppy hats helped breathe life into the Orioles in the seventh inning and beyond.
Around the horn
>> Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez underwent a routine MRI on his straight right lat muscle and the results came back clean, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told The Baltimore Sun. The result from the standard check-up MRI is encouraging for Rodriguez, who suffered the lat strain in June. A timeline to return is still unclear, however, as the Orioles aren’t likely to rush the top pitching prospect in baseball back to the mound. Rodriguez remains in Florida to rehab the injury. At the time of the injury, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Rodriguez might not appear again this season in the minors or the majors.
>> Right-hander Kyle Bradish will throw the first of two or three rehab starts with Double-A Bowie on Saturday, manager Brandon Hyde said. Bradish has been on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. Hyde said Bradish will throw three or four innings for the Baysox, part of a buildup that will likely keep him out until after the All-Star break.
This story will be updated.
Saturday, 4:05 p.m.