Perhaps all it took was the turn of a page, when the calendar flipped from April to May. During that first month of the season, Rougned Odor was a near-liability at the plate, batting .180. But when that page flipped, so did his season his, as he became a sparkplug and energizer for a team that ‘s suddenly competitive.
Take May 1, for instance, when Odor stepped in against the Boston Red Sox and launched his first home run of the season. There were his two walk-off hits, one a blast May 20 and another a dribbler two days later against the Tampa Bay Rays. And now on Saturday, at Fenway Park against the Red Sox once more, Odor continued what has been a resurgent month.
The veteran second baseman strode in with two runners on in the third inning and sent a ball sailing off his bat to deep right field, a three-run homer that was the main contribution in Baltimore’s 4-2 win to split the doubleheader.
“He’s up there to do some damage,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “These last couples weeks, he’s turned it up big time offensively.”
With right-hander Denyi Reyes on the mound — serving as the 27th man against his former team — Boston was held in check, scoring once across 3 2/3 innings. Odor provided enough firepower to back up Reyes in his spot start, and the bullpen continued an impressive run that includes five runs allowed in 17 innings this series.
The Orioles (20-28) started out much the same way they did in the first game, missing an opportunity in the first inning to post a crooked number on the Green Monster’s manual scoreboard. They loaded the bases and stranded all three, but the third inning proved to be enough run production to carry Baltimore.
Third baseman Ramón Urías drove in Austin Hays — who, with two hits, rose his batting average to a team-best .297 — before Odor stepped in and brought home three runs with one swing. This month, Odor has clobbered four homers with 17 RBIs. The 28-year-old’s slugging percentage has jumped from .260 in April to .506 in May.
After shortstop Jorge Mateo’s two-out double in the third, Baltimore didn’t manager another hit. But the Orioles didn’t need one, not after Odor’s blast and the work the bullpen did to shut the door.
“The bullpen guys … covered us there and put up zeros until that ninth inning,” Hyde said. “One walk on the day. I’m just really happy with how we threw the ball.”
For much of Reyes’ young career, he had envisioned nights such as these — pitching at Fenway Park. He might’ve imagined wearing white, returning to the home dugout on the first base line.
Instead, Reyes wore orange and stepped off the mound to his right, back to the visitor’s dugout between innings during his first appearance at Fenway Park as a member of the Orioles. Reyes received a spot start Saturday, covering for a club that has a shortened rotation because of an injury to right-hander Spenser Watkins and a stretch of five games in four days against the Red Sox.
As rain fell before the game, Reyes poked his head out of the dugout. He gave a look around the stadium, and it sunk in.
“Dang, I’m here,” Reyes recounted thinking. “Let’s do it.”
Reyes, who joined Boston’s organization as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, never rose above the Double-A level. But once he joined Baltimore this offseason, Reyes made a quick jump to Triple-A — and then to the majors earlier this month, striking out two batters in two scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers.
As the 27th man for the doubleheader, Reyes will return to the taxi squad Sunday. But to have Saturday, pitching in the ballpark he used to envision himself in, made one night worth it.
“I always dreamed of this time,” Reyes said. “It was wonderful.”
Missing the mark
In Ryan Mountcastle’s first full season in the majors, strikeouts were an issue. He was wrung up 161 times — a rate of 27.5% — compared with 41 walks. But he still held an on-base percentage of .309, leading to an OPS of .796.
Those issues haven’t been resolved in 2022. He’s striking out 27% of the time, including 15 punchouts in his past 11 games and 41 overall this season. It has led to his on-base percentage dropping to.283, a downturn that coincides with his overall production his. He clubbed 33 homers last year, with one in 5.6% of his plate appearances. That’s dropped to five thus far in 2022 — a long ball in just 3.3% of his trips to the dish.
It’s a worrisome trend for Mountcastle, who struck out four times combined between the two games Saturday.
Sunday, 1:35 pm
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM