ANAHEIM, Calif. — This was not the Grayson Rodriguez of the past 11 months on Tuesday night. This looked more like the Rodriguez who arrived as a rookie and quickly learned that a missed pitch location would be punished — severely.

It took only four pitches for Rodriguez to fall into a hole in Los Angeles’ 7-4 win against the Orioles at Angel Stadium. With his third offering, Rodriguez threw a heater down the middle that Mike Trout fouled away. Rodriguez went right back to it, challenging Trout again with a 97.6 mph four-seamer in the heart of the zone.

Trout didn’t miss that next one. He lifted it to center field for a leadoff homer.

“Really, just missing with the heater down the middle,” Rodriguez said. “Trout there in first inning, tried to go up with it. Just missed right down the middle. Got hurt with it pretty bad.”

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Rodriguez’s night spiraled from then on. For the first time in the regular season since May 26, 2023 — the day before he was sent back to the minors for a reset in his rookie year — Rodriguez allowed more than five runs. Against an Angels lineup that scorched six baseballs at 100 mph or harder, Rodriguez allowed a career-high 11 hits.

For as faulty as Rodriguez’s fastball command was, his off-speed offerings caused him the most damage. Four of the six extra-base hits against him came via his cutter, slider or curveball. Rodriguez struck out Miguel Sanó three times — and twice with his slider — but “had a tough time throwing sliders to really anybody else,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

“Slider command, a little bad,” Rodriguez said. “Missed in with it to righties. Just kind of staying up, spinning a little bit in the zone. Threw some good ones to Sanó, but obviously, got hurt with a few as well.”

The hit barrage against Rodriguez — which resulted in the Angels scoring two runs in the second, third and fourth innings — was a sharp departure from what Rodriguez has done for large parts of his young career.

“Maybe just an off night for him,” Hyde said. “Just didn’t command his pitches for me tonight.”

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Baltimore hadn’t yet lost a game Rodriguez started this year. He hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his four outings thus far, and even though his fastball command was iffy last week against the Minnesota Twins (he walked a season-high three batters), his off-speed pitches allowed him to work through six innings.

Rodriguez lasted 4⅓ innings Tuesday, and even that seemed to be a feat. He carried on despite the runs against him to ensure this wouldn’t become a complete bullpen game. The Angels hit four doubles and a homer with six singles mixed in, and Los Angeles finished 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“Just caught too much plate,” Rodriguez said. “Throwing the ball down the middle. A lot of mistakes that were thigh-high. Those guys were ready for it.”

It marked the third time on Baltimore’s two-city road trip in which its pitching staff allowed seven or more runs, but it was the first time a starting pitcher accounted for the majority of those. In Kansas City, the Royals tagged the Orioles’ bullpen twice, just to have the Orioles’ high-powered offense outslug them in one of the two.

There were hints of a comeback from the Orioles, especially in the fifth, when Baltimore finally broke through against right-hander Griffin Canning. Jordan Westburg began the frame with a single, and Jackson Holliday notched the second hit of his career, lashing a 104.4 mph single through the right side. A sacrifice fly brought one home. And after Adley Rutschman recorded one of his three hits, Ryan O’Hearn plated a pair with a hard-hit double.

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Gunnar Henderson then blasted off in the seventh inning with a long solo homer to right field, bringing his tally to seven this season.

“I don’t think we’re ever out of it,” O’Hearn said. “Down by seven kind of early, the mentality is just to find a way to pass the bat and creep back in. It’s a long game, so you never know.”

But that was as close as Baltimore would get. For as reliable as Rodriguez has proven to be over the last half season, the 24-year-old faltered in a major way against the Angels.

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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