Aaron Hicks set the tone with a first-inning homer and drove in four runs as the Orioles defeated the Rays at Tropicana Field Tuesday night, 8-6, putting the Orioles within four games of the Rays in the American League East.
After a 2-for-4 performance, Hicks has slashed . 340/. 444/. 604 in 17 games since his signing on May 30, the day Mullins went on the right groin strain list. Zengarh, a three-run effect who came off his bat with an exit speed of 104.4 mph, was his third in 53 at-bats with his new club. Hicks had one home run in 69 at bats and posted a 0.524 OPS with the Yankees that season before being released on May 26.
“Opportunities weren’t really in my way [in New York]But that was the situation I was in, Hicks said. “I had a difficult year last year and now I have an opportunity here and I’m trying to make the most of it.
“It was great [with Baltimore]. The team has really welcomed me since I got here, and I’ve been able to play a lot… every day, and it’s been fun.”
Hicks’ home run was part of a four-run first inning, the most productive opening frame of the season in Oriole. Anthony Santander added a two-run homer in the second off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, who went just 4 1/3 innings and allowed six runs in first runs for the first time since 2018.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said of the Orioles’ barrage against his rookie: “Every time they get a pitch they can handle, it looks like they’ve dealt with it.”
Right fielder Kyle Braddish made this early backup stand with an impressive five innings pitched. Facing a club that entered the game with a . 505 percentage of fastballs against fastballs, Braddish threw only nine home runs—the fewest of any career start—and instead leaned on his slider.
Pradesh lamented on his earlier start that his slider did not have its typical sharpness. On Tuesday, Ginsu’s knife was cutting through Tampa Bay’s high-scoring lineup. He had seven hits after three innings, and seven of his eight K’s came on the slider. Pradesh caught 12 errors on 23 swings on the field, with a breeze-high average of 52 percent.
If you want a sense of how the batsman was baffled by Pradesh, just watch his fourth hit from Randy Arzarena, who scurried helplessly as the bat flew out of his hands and landed close to Jorge Mateo.
“It was really good,” Pradesh said of his best show. “I used to mix it up early and late. …my last ride, [the slider] He was very much off the plate. I think I was in the area with it early on and then expanded it.”
“I think we were very aware of what he was trying to do with his sliding curve ball combination,” Cash said, “but we didn’t have an answer for that.”
Tampa Bay finally got Pradesh on two runs in the fifth inning, then closed the gap to 7–6 after a four-run sixth against three Orioles relievers. Second baseman Adam Frazier maintained the lead with a good run catch to end the inning.
Hicks then delivered his biggest hit of the night: a home run single in the eighth to score Austin Hayes and give the Orioles valuable insurance.
Yinier Cano and Felix Bautista, as they have so often this year, have taken care of things from there, scoring their last seven games. The 28-year-old Bautista, who started the day with his teammates singing “Happy Birthday” to him at the Orioles club, ended the night with his 20th save.
Although Mullins was scheduled to start rehab with Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, the Tides game in Nashville was rained out. The Orioles can’t wait to welcome back their All-Star quarterback. But Hicks’ resurgence allowed them to give Mullins the time he needed to prepare for the second half of the season.
“We were lucky because Hicks was available, and he played great for us,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
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