In spring training, Rougned Odor subtly bemoaned his time with the New York Yankees. He described their usage of him at third base as “uncomfortable.” The club’s facial hair policy caused him to shave his signature beard, making him unrecognizable to even his daughter.
Sunday at Camden Yards, he got his revenge, drilling a pinch-hit, two-run single up the middle to spark the Orioles to a 5-0 victory over his former club, giving Baltimore a series win to close its first homestand of 2022.
The hit seemed to shed the Orioles’ seasonlong struggles with runners in scoring position. They had been 0-for-6 in those situations on the day, pushing them to 7-for-83 this season. Robinson Chirinos worked a 10-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs when manager Brandon Hyde called on Odor, a veteran second baseman who signed with the Orioles this offseason after scuffling with New York in 2021. A 1-1 sinker from Jonathan Loásiga stayed up in the zone, and Odor smacked it up the middle.
Kelvin Gutiérrez followed with a two-run double, scoring Chirinos and Odor, before Jorge Mateo blooped a single into right, giving the Orioles three straight hits with a runner on either second or third. Baltimore (3-6) hadn’t gotten more than two such hits in any game this season.
The outburst shook off a day in which the Orioles struck out 16 times. That included 12 in five innings from former Oriole Nestor Cortes, who pitched an immaculate inning — recording three strikeouts in nine pitches — in the fourth.
Bruce in Baltimore
Bruce Zimmermann opened Camden Yards’ 30th anniversary season with four scoreless innings in Monday’s home opener. He again hearkened to 1992 with Sunday’s performance.
With five shutout frames, Zimmermann, an Ellicott City native, joined Rick Sutcliffe in the ballpark’s inaugural year as the only Orioles in Camden Yards history to not allow a run in their first two home starts of a season.
Against an exclusively right-handed lineup, Zimmermann relied heavily on his changeup, throwing it more than any other offering. He got a career-high eight swing-and-misses with the pitch, three coming in one third-inning matchup with New York slugger Giancarlo Stanton. In at-bats ending with Zimmermann’s changeup, the Yankees went 2-for-10 with four strikeouts.
With the impacts of a shortened spring training lingering into the season, Zimmermann was pulled after 75 pitches, up from 66 in his first outing.
Around the horn
>> The Orioles transferred left-hander John Means (left elbow sprain) to the 60-day injured list, ensuring their ace will be out until at least June as they seek additional opinions and tests on the structural damage in his elbow. With the opened 40-man roster spot, they selected right-hander Marcos Diplán, optioning left-hander Alexander Wells to Triple-A Norfolk.
>> Asked whether he expects base coaches Anthony Sanders and Tony Mansolino (illness) to join the Orioles during their upcoming road trip to California, Hyde said, “I hope so.”
>> Baltimore has yet to announce who will replace Means in the rotation for Tuesday’s start in Oakland. Spenser Watkins will start Monday, with Jordan Lyles and Tyler Wells pitching in the latter half of the four-game series.
This story will be updated.
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