The atmosphere in Baltimore during last night's tilt against the Oakland Athletics was electrifying. If Grayson Rodriguez's home debut at Camden Yards combined with a "Gas Em Up!" t-shirt giveaway wasn't enough to appease a crowd of approximately 12,305, why not add in an offensive performance for the ages by Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle?
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle has historic night against the Oakland Athletics
The 26 year-old slugger has struggled to start the season in terms of plate discipline. He has produced a strikeout rate of 30% while simultaneously ranking near the bottom of the league in both Whiff % and Chase Rate. I don't believe this is cause for much concern as Mountcastle has always demonstrated a rather aggressive plate approach as evidenced when comparing his career numbers against their respective MLB averages in the following table.
Total Swing Rate
In-Zone Swing Rate
Additionally, Ryan is making contact on pitches that are within the strike zone at nearly an 85% clip which is notably higher than his 2022 rate of 78%. Despite being a small sample size, this is very encouraging due to the fact that when he does make contact, the ball travels far. As you can see below, the first baseman ranks in the upper echelon of all qualified hitters in regards to various metrics that are often indicative of a high quality of contact.
If Mounty can also manifest a more patient approach and find a way to lay off those high four-seam fastballs as well as the low and away sliders, he can further climb to new heights. With that being said, let's break down each and every at-bat from a career night at the plate.
Baltimore found themselves trailing early after an RBI single by A's outfielder Brent Rooker in the bottom of the 1st. Mountcastle would bat in the latter half of the inning after an Austin Hays double as well as a fly-out by Adley Rutschman that would put a runner on 3rd with just one out.
Ryan fouled off a first pitch slider to go down 0-1 in the count. He would then take another low slider to deep CF that would ultimately tie the game via a sacrifice fly.
Mounty would arrive at the plate with the Orioles once again trailing by one run thanks to an RBI single from Jace Peterson. Jorge Mateo put on a baserunning masterclass that first saw him beat out a good ole' fashioned "Baltimore chop" for an infield single, advance to 2nd on a Cedric Mullins sac bunt, and subsequently steal 3rd base.
Rutschman would draw a walk on just four pitches to put runners at the corners. Mountcastle would then tie the game yet again; this time, on a 1-2 slider that was lined to center for an RBI single.
Grayson Rodriguez saw his night come to an end after walking the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. His final line was 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, and 99 pitches over 4 and 1/3 innings. Austin Voth would enter the game in relief and produce his unique version of a pitching masterclass. The right-handed pitcher would allow every inherited runner to score as well as surrender an additional two runs via multiple RBI singles and a Shea Langeliers three-run homer putting the Athletics up four runs by a score of 7-3.
Moving forward to the bottom half of the inning, Ryan would be playing savior once more. After singles by both Adley and Hays, Mounty would launch a 2-1, down-and-in, four-seam fastball approximately 417 feet into the Orioles bullpen for an Earl Weaver special to pull the team within one. This hit alone increased Baltimore's probability of winning the game by 20.8% and also granted Mountcastle a new career high with five RBI's in one game (for now).
Our man of the night would set foot in the batter's box the very next inning after an Austin Hays blast to left center field tied the game at seven runs apiece. Ryan's eyes lit up as he received a hanging slider middle-away and crushed it with a 105.5 mph exit velocity. Unfortunately, he topped the ball with just a 2 degree launch angle resulting in a ground out to shortstop Kevin Smith.
Mountcastle would bat in a third consecutive inning thanks in part to the rest of the Orioles lineup that continued to work a pitching staff that sports a 7.88 ERA which ranks as the worst in all of Major League Baseball so far this season. Following a Gunnar Henderson walk and Jorge Mateo HBP, Austin Hays would give Baltimore their first lead of the night with an RBI single.
Hays was further able to advance to second base on the throw thus leaving first base wide open. Oakland's manager Mark Kotsay would then decide to intentionally walk Adley in order to pitch to Mountcastle with two outs and the bases loaded. Come to find out, Kotsay would sorely regret this decision as Ryan sat on a 2-1 slider and hit an absolute nuke DEEP into the Baltimore night for a grand slam that increased the Orioles lead to 12-7.
This ball was projected to have gone 456 feet which would be the fourth furthest hit ball in the majors this season right behind 473, 479, and 485 foot tanks that were manufactured by Austin Riley, C.J. Cron, and Giancarlo Stanton. Ryan's homerun also exhibited an exit velocity of 111 mph; the seventh hardest-hit ball of his career thus far.
Mountcastle did not get another opportunity to bat and finished the game going 3-4 with two runs scored, three hits, a sacrifice fly, 2 HR's, and 9 RBI's. His RBI total would place him in a three-way tie with Eddie Murray and Jim Gentile for the Orioles single-game franchise record.
This performance would catapult Ryan into a four-way tie for the league lead in homeruns at five alongside the likes of Pete Alonso, Bryan Reynolds, and Luis Robert. He would also become the new league leader in RBI's with 18.
The Orioles ultimately won the game by a final score of 12-8 pushing their 2023 record to 6-5. Conversely, the rebuilding Oakland Athletics would fall to an MLB-worst record of 2-9. Baltimore seeks to win their third game in this four-game series tonight at 6:35 PM.