KANSAS CITY — The Orioles proved to be a challenge in Thursday’s thriller. Now, it’s time for them to face some tougher tests in the rest of May.
With an improbable 13-10 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Baltimore picked up its seventh straight series win. The O’s won 17 of 22 games during that span, which featured matchups against the A’s, White Sox, Nationals, Tigers, Red Sox and Royals — all opponents with sub-.500 records , except for Boston.
The last win in that stretch didn’t come easy. Baltimore had an 8-1 lead against Kansas City in the third inning, then blew it, when the Royals pulled away and went ahead, 9-8, with a two-run seventh. But the Orioles responded immediately, rallying for a pair of runs in the eighth, with Ramón Urías’ pinch-hit two-run single pushing them ahead. He then helped lead off with a two-run double in the three-run ninth.
According to Baseball Savant, Baltimore had a 96% probability of winning after Gunnar Henderson’s two-run homer pushed its lead to 8-1 in the third. Later that turned around dramatically in Kansas City, which had an 85% chance of victory heading into the eighth. Urías’ go-ahead knock pushed it back to 79% for the O’s, which became 100% when Félix Bautista struck out Hunter Dozier and stranded two Royals baserunners in scoring position to end it.
“It’s like going to the dentist, a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Unfortunately, we allowed them to get back into the game. But give our guys a ton of credit for not getting down, sticking with it and really grinding out the last two innings to put some runs up on the board. .The character wins, for sure.”
Baltimore (21-10) may need more of those kinds of wins, as its next 22 games are against teams with winning records — the Braves (22-10), Rays (26-6 ), Pirates (20-12). ), Angels (18-14), Blue Jays (18-13 entering Thursday), Yankees (17-15) and Rangers (18-12).
The O’s believe they have proven they are capable of top-level competition.
“We showed we’re a good baseball team,” second baseman Adam Frazier said before Thursday’s game, in which he reached base four times and scored four runs. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing — if you’re winning every night, you’ve got a good team. Everybody knows we can hit the ball and we can pitch the ball. So I don’t think anyone is taking us lightly from a talent standpoint.
Neither should they. Not when Baltimore also has the kind of resilience it has shown.
The Orioles built their 8-1 lead against Royals starter Jordan Lyles (who pitched for Baltimore in 2022) with Anthony Santander’s two-run homer in the first, Cedric Mullins’ three-run double in the second , Jorge Mateo’s RBI single in the third and Henderson’s subsequent two-run blast. But Baltimore right-hander Grayson Rodriguez couldn’t stop Kansas City from rallying back.
Rodriguez (the O’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline) made his sixth big league start, allowing six runs in 3 2/3 innings. The Royals chipped away at their deficit, scoring at least one run in each frame from the second through the fifth. Kyle Isbel’s RBI bunt single tied the game at 8 in the seventh, with Bobby Witt Jr. leading off. KC, 9-8, with Yennier Cano’s RBI knock.
“We were a little upset, because we took the lead early, but it’s part of the game,” said Urías. “Sometimes we suffer like that, and we have to fight to the end.”
The O’s remained calm — which was never a problem for the mild-mannered Urías — and trusted that they had the offensive ability to respond. It’s easy for them to have that kind of confidence, considering they’ve come from behind in 11 of their first 21 wins.
Now, Baltimore’s season-long 10-game road trip ends this weekend in Atlanta, where the Orioles face the mighty Braves. But the O’s aren’t backing down from a tough challenge. They don’t these days.
That confidence stems from the success of Baltimore’s 83-win 2022 season, which is often cited in the clubhouse as the reason for the fast start in ’23. The Orioles have learned how to win — even if it’s not always in the best way — so they’re not afraid of a tough schedule ahead.
“We look forward to that. I think we’re going to find out what we’re made of,” Frazier said. “You want to play the best teams — more fun, usually more people in the stands. That’s what you play for, is to be the best. So to do that, you have to beat the best.”