OAKLAND — The Orioles started their nine-game road trip by facing six playoff-caliber starting pitchers in Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Bryce Miller, Yu Darvish, Michael Wacha and Blake Snell.
It was a tough, and new, test for Baltimore. It plays the Mariners only six times a year and the Padres only three. The Orioles had to adjust on the fly as they saw pitchers that most of them rarely face.
They did just OK, going 3-3 on the first two legs of the three-city trip, an accomplishment for some teams but not for these Orioles, who hold the best record in the American League.
On Friday, the Orioles offense finally got some refuge.
The Athletics, the worst team in the American League, didn’t even have a starter to throw at the Orioles, instead opting for a bullpen game. It was as good a time as any for the Orioles to get some mojo back on offense and they took full advantage, beating the A’s 9-4 to open the last three games of the road trip.
Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit — including Ramon Urías, who did not start the game. They got a boost early, with Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle recording knocks in the first to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead before starter Kyle Gibson even took the mound.
“It’s always a good time when we come out and get that many hits in a game and give our pitchers a lead to work with,” Henderson said. “It’s always good to be able to do that.”
Henderson gave them two more runs in the second, when he hit a home run into the second deck. It was his 20th of the season, making him just the ninth Orioles rookie to hit that mark. He has 40 games left to hit 13 more if he wants to beat the record set by Mountcastle in 2021.
“It’s pretty cool to reach that point,” Henderson said. “I’m hoping a lot more come along.”
Henderson finished his night 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
“Nothing is surprising at this point,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He has so much ability to be a really, really good player in this league for a long time.”
Adley Rutschman joined Henderson with three hits, with Ryan O’Hearn and Austin Hays compiling two. The team had 16 total.
And, while the offense did more than enough to cover for the pitchers, Gibson’s outing was less than to be desired for. Sure, it was better than his last start — when he gave up nine runs in 5 1/3 innings — but it still wasn’t his sharpest. He gave up four runs on nine hits in five innings.
Pitch execution overall was better, though, and he didn’t issue any walks.
“I still think there were a couple chances that I had to make a pitch and I didn’t make a pitch to avoid a couple runs,” Gibson said. “I think overall I’d like to be pitching better. I’m going to keep working, keep working on things in the bullpen and try to clean up some of those innings.”
He’s eaten some innings for the Orioles — which is a value in itself — but he has a 5.98 ERA since June 6, the team going 7-7 during those 14 starts.