Orioles’ Grayson Rodriguez retires first 15 Rays, Adley Rutschman clobbers grand slam in 9-2 win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An infield single in the first inning Saturday perhaps prevented Kyle Bradish and the Orioles bullpen from throwing the first perfect game in team history.

Sunday, Grayson Rodriguez actually flirted with one in Baltimore’s 9-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The sophomore fireballer retired the first 15 batters in order, overpowering Rays hitters with his mix of high-90s mph fastballs, sharp breaking balls and devastating changeups.

However, Rodriguez lost both his perfect game and no-hit bids in the sixth inning as Tampa Bay’s bats finally woke up from their weekend slumber, but Baltimore’s lumber provided enough offense for the club’s third straight win over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Anthony Santander clobbered a solo home run, Colton Cowser was one of three Orioles players to triple to tie the club’s single-game record and Adley Rutschman hit the second grand slam of his career and drove in a career-high six runs.

Rodriguez’s final line wasn’t nearly as resplendent as his performance actually was. He allowed only one hard-hit ball, struck out six batters and generated a career-high-tying 18 swings and misses.

The 24-year-old wasn’t quite as stellar as Bradish, who retired the final 18 batters he faced after allowing an infield single to the first hitter he faced, but Rodriguez’s performance was one of the best from an Orioles starter this season.

Rodriguez (7-2) lost his perfect game bid with a leadoff walk to Taylor Walls to begin the sixth. With two outs, Yandy Díaz, who bookended the 26 straight outs Orioles pitchers recorded Saturday with a pair of singles, broke up the no-hitter with a knock to center field. Brandon Lowe then knocked Rodriguez out of the game with an RBI single on the right-hander’s career-high 107th pitch, and reliever Dillon Tate allowed one of Rodriguez’s runners to score.

Those runs brought Tampa Bay (31-34) within one run of tying the game, but the Orioles’ powerful offense responded with two runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to give the bullpen breathing room. Rutschman’s RBI single — his second after his first gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead — drove in Cedric Mullins after the slumping center fielder led off the frame with a triple.

The star catcher then stamped an exclamation mark on the victory with his second slam and 13th homer of the season. He is hitting a team-best .306 and is on pace for a career-high 33 homers. Before his blast, Jordan Westburg led off the inning with a triple, which could later be changed to a double with an error on Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena, to mark the 10th time in Orioles history (and first since Sept. 27, 2022) they’ve tallied three triples in a game. They’ve never hit more than three.

Baltimore is 42-22 and one win away from a four-game sweep over Tampa Bay. The Orioles are 16-6 against the American League East this season and 5-1 versus the Rays. They are two games back of the American League East-leading New York Yankees.