The Gatorade that had been dumped on Adam Frazier for the second time in three games was washed away, the sugary stickiness down the drain of the shower. The winning feeling, though, remained for the Orioles second baseman — the feeling that surrounds memorable games such as Sunday’s.

Baltimore looked as if it was headed for the wrong side of history, with Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez throwing 6 2/3 perfect innings before a base runner reached against him. Then the Orioles persisted, and when Frazier slid into home plate in the 10th inning at Camden Yards, he found himself part of a team that had secured a series sweep — and that has won 10 of its last 12 games.

When Frazier looks back at his career, these types of wins stick out — the wacky ones, where a wild pitch from right-hander Mason Englert provided the 2-1 victory in extra innings. These are the types of wins that could help push Baltimore over the top.

“Those kinds of wins, at the end of the season, they add up,” Frazier said. “That’s how you make the playoffs. A lot of good teams can win series, but sweeps are hard to do. You have to do a lot of things right, and you have to have a couple things fall your way.”

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Those couple things materialized Sunday in the form of a soft single in the seventh inning off Rodriguez, the captivating speed of Jorge Mateo, and the pitch that snuck past catcher Jake Rogers and allowed for Frazier to slide in head-first for a win.

The Orioles managed three hits. They looked utterly dominated against Rodriguez until Ryan Mountcastle’s base knock. And even then, it wasn’t as if the faucet opened wide and runs came flowing out — they sputtered out instead, but enough for Baltimore to finish its first three-game sweep of the season.

With 14 wins in 21 games, the only Orioles teams to perform better in their season-opening stretch were the 1966 and 1968 editions; both of those clubs won at least 91 games, and the 1966 team won the World Series. The 2023 Orioles have stacked wins with solid pitching this last week — three runs allowed in 54 innings after only two starters managed to record an out in the sixth inning through the first nine games — dating back to last Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

“We’ve got a lot of special pitchers in this clubhouse,” said right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, who pitched five scoreless innings. “I think some good things are just starting for us, so it’s going to be exciting to see how we do as pitchers from here on out.”

A gutsy decision from third base coach Tony Mansolino in the eighth inning set up the wackiness to end Sunday. For just a moment, as the helmet flew off Mateo’s head near third base, Mansolino paused his arm movement. He had been swinging that left arm from the moment Anthony Santander’s sharply hit grounder bounded out of the reach of the third baseman, and as Mateo neared, he froze for a split second.

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Then Mansolino whirled his arm once more. Mateo’s legs chugged. And despite missing the previous two games with hip discomfort, Mateo’s blazing speed led to a head-first dive safely into home plate to score the tying run Sunday at Camden Yards.

On a double down the left field line, Mansolino made a daring call. He bet on Mateo’s legs, and his bet paid off.

“It was a great send,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Mateo gets on you so fast as a third base coach, ’cause he’s moving. Such an exciting player. So fun to watch him run the bases.”

All of a sudden, in a game the Orioles looked destined to be no-hit in, Baltimore came out with a win. Eduardo Rodriguez had mowed through Baltimore’s lineup until Mountcastle stepped into the box in the seventh inning. The crowd’s roar as his swing lofted a single into shallow left field outweighed the caliber of the knock, but Mountcastle earned it for spurning Rodriguez’s chance at history.

Before Mountcastle, the Tigers starting pitcher faced 20 batters. He retired all 20. And then Mountcastle chipped away, stayed alive with four foul balls, before reaching his bat head down to dink a changeup into the outfield for the first — and only — breakthrough Baltimore managed against Rodriguez.

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Rodriguez was practically flawless but not literally so, allowing just one hit in seven innings. He flirted with perfection, and then the pent-up breath of some 36,975 fans — and the 26 Orioles players — was unleashed as Mountcastle’s base knock landed.

“Rodriguez seems to always give us trouble,” Hyde said. “He was so good today. Fortunately, Mounty got that hit, but just a really well-pitched game from both ends.”

This might’ve been Rodriguez’s ballpark. As he stood on the mound, left foot on the third-base side of the rubber, he made Camden Yards his home anyway.

Rodriguez signed for the Orioles in early 2010 for $175,000 out of Venezuela, developed in the farm system and then was flipped to the Boston Red Sox when he was 21 in exchange for left-hander Andrew Miller. And after establishing himself in Boston, Rodriguez signed ahead of last season with the Tigers.

There were moments when the magic that history necessitates seemed to begin to flow. Rodriguez watched as former Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop dove to his right to stop a sharply hit grounder from Gunnar Henderson. A batter later, Rodriguez threw out Ryan McKenna, who attempted to start a rally in a scoreless game through a bunt.

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But it was Mountcastle who eventually broke through, and Rodriguez left not in line for a win because Detroit couldn’t score off Grayson Rodriguez or the bullpen until the eighth inning, when a sacrifice fly brought in one.

In that sense, baseball is fickle. Grayson Rodriguez finally retired a side in order in his last attempt, as he struck out two batters in the fifth, while Eduardo Rodriguez finally allowed a base runner in his final inning.

“Really, I had no idea there was a perfect game or anything until I came out of the ballgame,” Grayson Rodriguez said. “Then obviously, you’re rooting for your guys to get a hit. But yeah, he was throwing the ball pretty well today.”

Grayson Rodriguez’s outing wasn’t as efficient as other Orioles starters have been of late, but he continued a strong run for their hurlers. When he exited, Baltimore’s starting pitchers had allowed one run in their last 34 2/3 innings, with each of them gaining confidence off the others.

That allowed the wackiness to take over, with Mateo’s first-to-home heroics followed by Frazier’s Gatorade-bath-inducing slide to win the game in extras.

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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