Orioles stay hot with series win over Rockies

The Orioles beat Colorado in what proved to be a much tougher series than expected

Aug 26, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Yennier Cano (78)
Aug 26, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Yennier Cano (78) / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore came into the series against the flailing Colorado Rockies hoping to widen their lead over Tampa Bay in the American League East. Despite Colorado's poor season, they played three close games against the Orioles. An argument can be made that, even though the Birds won the series, they did not play better baseball.

The biggest loss the Orioles suffered on the diamond over the weekend was the departure of star closer Felix Bautista. There is no guarantee as to when the all-star will return from his injury, but for now, he remains on the 15-day IL. In his absence, the Birds will need to find a closer to step into the role of a ninth-inning pitcher.

Orioles take two of three from Rockies to win series

Game 1: Henderson's game-winning homerun

Each starting pitcher in this matchup went six innings, but it was the relievers who decided the outcome of the game. A Ryan Mountcastle home run gave the Orioles an early lead before Colorado fought back to take the lead themselves. Shintaro Fujinami came on in relief to pitch the 7th and 8th. He gave up only one hit and iced the Rockies offense. The Orioles still, however, entered the bottom of the 8th trailing 4-3. Colorado deployed Brent Suter to hold onto their slim lead, but he was unable to do so.

A walk to Austin Hays brought up Gunnar Henderson. The leading AL Rookie of the Year candidate smacked a 2-run home run. Bautista took the mound to finish the game in the top of the 9th as it looked like Fujinami would get the win.

However, after two outs and getting two strikes on the next batter, the Dominican flamethrower got injured and was subsequently removed from the game. Danny Coulombe retired the final batter with a strikeout as the Orioles achieved a bittersweet win.

Game 2: Another 5-4 victory

Saturday's game saw both starters handed another stat in their decision columns. Kyle Bradish, who has recently been showing why he is essential to the Birds starting rotation, pitched six innings of two-run baseball and got the win. The Rockies took the lead in the 3rd inning, but the Orioles scored five in three innings to take a firm grip on the scoreline heading into the 8th. Jacob Webb, who had taken the mound to get the final out in the top of the 7th, nearly cost Baltimore the game.

Colorado scored twice and the Orioles entered the final frame with only a slender one-run lead. As expected, Brandon Hyde called on Yennier Cano to close out the Orioles win. Cano retired all three batters he faced, and Camden Yards witnessed another 5-4 win to clinch the series heading into Sunday afternoon.

Game 3: Colorado finally eeks one out

A series sweep was not meant to be for the Birds. Jack Flaherty threw some excellent pitches through the first three frames, but over the next three he gave up three runs. Big home runs by Cedric Mullins and Ryan O'Hearn tied the game at three for the Orioles after eight innings.

O'Hearn's home run in the bottom of the 8th appeared to even briefly give the Orioles a winning momentum. However, it would falter in the 9th inning. Hyde again tabbed Yennier Cano to close out the game, but this time the Cuban star faltered and gave up the eventual winning run.

Baltimore was unable to score in the bottom of the ninth and Colorado won the game 4-3. It is a moment of relief for the Rockies, but with the Rays beating the Yankees it shrinks the lead Baltimore holds over Tampa Bay.

Aside from the two home run hitters, Austin Voth was the best Orioles player on Sunday afternoon. Two scoreless innings marked the best performance from the 31-year-old in a long time. Another series win for the Orioles, but Sunday's loss gave the Rays an opportunity to strike at the Birds for the division lead.