The Baltimore Orioles aren’t prone to big rallies, but sometimes their home runs come in bunches.
That’s not a bad alternative, and a repeat of some of the power production could come in handy against the visiting Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
Five of Baltimore’s nine hits on Tuesday night were home runs in a 9-3 victory to begin the two-game set. Jorge Mateo belted the Orioles’ 11th three-run homer of the season. The team managed just 10 three-run shots in the entire 2021 season.
Homers aside, one of the most encouraging parts of the game for Baltimore might have been rookie catcher Adley Rutschman breaking an 0-for-20 skid with an eighth-inning single.
There’s no reason to panic regarding Rutschman’s bat, according to manager Brandon Hyde.
“You can’t worry about the results,” Hyde said. “It’s a tough level to break into. He’s going to be just fine. We need to be patient and stay positive.”
The current series has particular meaning for Hyde, who was a bench coach with the Chicago Cubs when the team won the 2016 World Series. Current Cubs manager David Ross played for that team.
“A lot of friends over there,” Hyde said. “Definitely a little strange to see the Cubs uniform (in the other dugout). … I have such great memories about my time there.”
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-5, 5.32 ERA) will head to the mound for the Cubs on Wednesday. He endured his worst start of the season in his latest appearance, when he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in four innings during a 14-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. It took him 90 pitches to record 12 outs.
Stroman has made 14 previous career appearances (13 starts) vs. Baltimore, going 5-5 with a 3.21 ERA.
The big transaction for Chicago this week was getting Alec Mills back in the bullpen. He came off the injured list and logged five innings of two-run ball on Tuesday, so he won’t be available until later in the week. However, his long outing saved arms for Wednesday night.
“He can do a lot for us,” Ross said of Mills, who was sidelined due to back and quadriceps ailments. “We’ll have to watch him and see (how long he can go). He’ll be a valuable piece.”
The Cubs were off Monday and have another day off Thursday, so with more roster moves on the horizon, there’s no need to rush back some players.
“We’ve got some off days here that we should take advantage of just to make sure they’re 100 percent,” Ross said.
The Orioles will go with right-hander Jordan Lyles (3-4, 4.50 ERA) on Wednesday. He is 3-4 with a 5.68 ERA 15 career appearances (nine starts) against the Cubs.
Baltimore infielder Chris Owings returned from the bereavement list on Tuesday, though he didn’t play.
The series opener included home runs from the first batter for each team. That hadn’t happened in an Orioles game since an August 2016 matchup with the Houston Astros.
Christopher Morel opened Tuesday’s game with a long ball for Chicago, and Willson Contreras added a solo shot in the fifth inning. Cedric Mullins started the bottom of the first with a homer, and Baltimore also got round-trippers from Trey Mancini, Mateo, Austin Hays and Ramon Urias.
The Orioles are set to play the finale of an eight-game homestand before an eight-game road trip. The Cubs’ five-game road trip concludes with three games against the New York Yankees this weekend.
–Field Level Media