[Baltimore Sun] Orioles bats explode to back Grayson Rodriguez in 11-3 win over Twins

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During the Orioles’ rebuild, the mere thought of nights like Tuesday kept fans hopeful.

Through 100-loss seasons, a 19-game losing streak and baseball so bad the franchise should’ve been paying fans and not the other way around, the dim light at the end of the tunnel only existed because of exciting young prospects and the savvy front office that drafted them.

But those dog days are over, and the Orioles’ 11-3 win Tuesday over the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards was the latest example of how far the organization has come in five years.

A lineup with six homegrown players, four first-round draft picks and three No. 1 prospects produced 11 runs on 15 hits as all nine batters reached base. Gunnar Henderson went 3-for-5, hit a home run onto Oriole Park’s flag court and singled home Jackson Holliday. Jordan Westburg blasted a two-run homer over the nearly indomitable left field wall. Colton Cowser tallied two hits and drove in a pair of runs. And Grayson Rodriguez pitched six innings of two-run ball for the win.

The modest crowd at Camden Yards — an announced attendance of 18,108 — gazed in amazement after each Henderson hit, screamed when Westburg conquered the wall, mooed anytime Cowser did anything and gave Rodriguez a standing ovation as he walked off the mound. After a wild-card chase in 2022 and 101 wins in 2023, games like Tuesday’s are just another reminder of the path it took to get here and that more nights like these are ahead.

With the win, the Orioles moved to 11-6 and 8-0 in games in which Rodriguez or ace Corbin Burnes start. The defending American League East champions have won three straight games and are one game back of the New York Yankees, who started the season red-hot, for first in the division.

In a game chock-full of impressive performances from former or current prospects, the Orioles’ oldest position player drove in the game’s first run. Catcher James McCann doubled to right field to bring home Cowser, who raced from first base to score after Twins right fielder Manuel Margot bobbled the ball. But Henderson, the Orioles’ second-youngest player behind Holliday at 22 years old, narrowly cleared the railing atop the out-of-town scoreboard for a two-run homer that gave Baltimore a 3-0 lead off Twins right-hander Chris Paddack.

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The Orioles plated four more runs in the third on an RBI groundout from Cowser, Westburg’s 404-foot big fly and Henderson’s third hit, an RBI single to score Holliday, who walked amid another hitless day. The Orioles drafted Henderson in the second round of the 2019 draft after picking Adley Rutschman first overall. Westburg was taken with the 30th pick the following year, and Cowser was drafted by Baltimore with the fifth pick in 2021.

In the fourth, Cowser, who was named the AL Player of the Week on Monday after a monstrous breakout, singled to score Anthony Santander, who later put Baltimore up 9-2 in the sixth with an RBI single.

Like how McCann drove in the Orioles’ first run, another veteran capped off Baltimore’s scoring. Ryan O’Hearn, who is off to a hot start after a breakout 2023 campaign, clobbered a two-run homer to center field — just past center fielder Byron Buxton’s outstretched glove — to put a bow on a stellar night at the yard.

This story will be updated.

Twins at Orioles

Wednesday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: MASN

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Baltimore Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson watches his home run against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

Baltimore Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson (2) and James McCann (27) drink from the team’s Homer Hydration Station after scoring on Henderson’s home run against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – APRIL 16: Gunnar Henderson #2 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 16, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Orioles starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez allowed two runs in six innings Tuesday night against the Twins. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

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