ST. LOUIS — Last year, starting pitcher Kyle Gibson helped ensure his Orioles teammates stayed hydrated, often holding up the Homer Hose so the batter who hit the round-tripper could cool off with a drink of water.

This year, Gibson, now with the Cardinals, has different plans.

When Gibson’s former teammates walked out into the visitors’ dugout at Busch Stadium on Monday for the start of their three-game series against St. Louis, they were presented with a new rule: “No Water Hoses Allowed in the Dugout” the laminated sign read in all caps.

The Orioles intend to ignore it.

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“I hope we break that rule like six times tonight,” Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde said.

Although Gibson played with the Orioles for just one year, his impact on the team will last far longer. On the field, he was an innings eater for the Orioles, pitching 192 innings while holding down a 4.73 ERA, oftentimes saving an over-worked bullpen, especially in the wake of Félix Bautista’s injury.

The rest of the week, he was an invaluable resource to a young rotation. Grayson Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer were seeking to establish themselves while balancing the demands and pressure that came with a playoff push. With John Means sidelined for most of the year, Gibson was the lone veteran of the group.

Kyle Gibson returns to the dugout during an open practice at Camden Yards before Game 1 of the American League Division Series in 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“It was special,” Gibson said. “We had a great, young team and I really got to watch a lot of young guys grow up, a lot of guys take big steps in their careers, and obviously this year they are taking bigger ones. ... I think watching young players be comfortable and really come into who they are on and off the field is something that I will remember from that team.”

There was no place for Gibson in Baltimore beyond the one season. Gibson wanted to play close to home and the Orioles upgraded their rotation with the addition of Corbin Burnes. During batting practice on Monday, a herd of Orioles players and coaches gathered around Gibson, hugging and reminiscing on their time together. Many still stay in touch with him.

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“Top-five best teammate I’ve ever been around,” Hyde said. “What he was like in the dugout, in the clubhouse, as a leader to speak up and make sure people are acting appropriately, acting professional, all of that stuff mattered to him. Guys are very fond of him, myself included.”

For Gibson, who has been attempting to come to St. Louis since 2017, playing for the Cardinals gives him a chance to be near his four children. They live 35 minutes from the stadium, and although he still misses some dance recitals and baseball games, he can be there more often now.

He’s made nine starts for St. Louis so far — and will make his 10th Wednesday opposite Kremer in the series finale — and has a 4.09 ERA. And while he’s no longer in orange and black, he’s still keeping an eye on his former team, and he’s not surprised at all at the success they’ve had so far this season.

“These players are obviously really good,” Gibson said. “They believe in the guys they have. They believe in those young players that they are going to be the ones to keep taking steps and keep getting better and this year they have.”