BOSTON — The Orioles have the rising stars who, more than likely, will very soon rule this league. But what’s made them so successful this year has been their ability to get contributions from everyone in their lineup.
On Saturday, it was that hodgepodge of characters who led them to yet another win, bailing out a poor all-around pitching performance. The Red Sox had 23 hits and scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the Orioles held off the late rally to win 13-12.
It was their seventh straight as their magic number to make the playoffs dropped to six (at the time of publication).
“We didn’t pitch well,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Tonight wasn’t our best night on the mound or defensively. I give our guys a ton of credit — that was a great, grind-it-out gut-check win. I loved how our offense kept producing.”
There was James McCann, a veteran brought in with the sole intention of backing up Adley Rutschman. On this night, McCann did more than just provide solid catching work. He hit two home runs, his first multihomer game since this date three years ago, when he was a member of the White Sox.
“Honestly, in a game like today, just trying to put good swings on it,” McCann said. “It was a fun game.”
Aaron Hicks did his part too. A few months ago, he was a Yankees castaway, released after seven seasons in pinstripes due to his poor performance earlier this year. He’s experienced a turnaround with the Orioles, now hitting .274 with seven home runs, the latest of which came in the third inning Saturday. It was one of three hits for Hicks, who also had a single and a double.
“It’s always fun when you go deep,” Hicks said. “When guys are clicking in the lineup, it’s definitely a lot of fun when you are winning baseball games.”
And can’t forget about Jordan Westburg, the rookie with the serious demeanor who has split time at second and third since coming up in June. He also homered against the Red Sox, his sixth-inning blast coming right before McCann’s second homer to put the Orioles up 9-6. He’s batting .279 and quickly becoming one of the team’s most consistent hitters.
Gunnar Henderson added a home run too, the fifth of the night for the team.
All of their efforts covered up anther lackluster performance from Jack Flaherty. He was brought in at the trade deadline to add pitching depth, acquired in exchange for three prospects, including two who were ranked in the Orioles’ top 20, according to MLB Pipeline. But Flaherty, although he allowed them to move to a six-man rotation to add extra rest for other starters for a bit, has otherwise been a liability.
He has a 7.26 ERA in six starts, including the four earned runs he gave up Saturday. He made it just 3 1/3 innings. Right now, his spot in a playoff rotation is in jeopardy. Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer figure to have the first three starts locked up. If the team needs to go to a fourth arm, Flaherty, with his track record so far in Baltimore, might not be the direction it goes.
“Just going to continue to work,” Flaherty said. “I need to do a better job at making pitches and executing. I can’t do any worse than things have gone.”
The bullpen didn’t have a banner night after Flaherty exited in the fourth. Jacob Webb made it just two-thirds of an inning, allowing three runs. Danny Coulombe had to rescue the team out of the seventh —with the bases loaded, he got Triston Casas to fly out to right field to end the threat. Yennier Cano loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and let in three runs. But the Orioles held on to win, Austin Hays throwing his arms up after recording the last out.
“It was like a heavyweight boxing match,” McCann said. “Every time we threw up some runs, they found a way. We had the advantage of the homers, and they found a way to shoot to ball the other way, to find broken bat base hits, find holes, you name it. They did a good job of battling. Every time we threw a punch, they threw a punch. Thankfully, we were able to pull out on top.”