Getting through the first game was all part of the process for catcher Adley Rutschman and the Baltimore Orioles.
Now settling in as a major leaguer can commence for one of baseball’s top prospects.
Rutschman, the overall No. 1 draft pick in 2019, made his Orioles debut Saturday night in a 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The teams complete a three-game series Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. Rutschman is expected to be the designated hitter.
Rutschman said he’s interested in becoming comfortable in his new surroundings. He was greeted with incredible fanfare in his first game. Orioles fans showered him with adoration at nearly every move, particularly after a seventh-inning triple. It was overwhelming for the 24-year-old.
“An emotional overload,” he said. “I was definitely amped up a little bit stepping into the box.”
He said he tried to soak it all in.
“Make sure to appreciate every moment,” Rutschman said. “Extremely blessed to be able to play this game. Looking forward to just getting with the team and trying to win the games. I can’t wait to get to that normal, every-day (feeling).”
Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said he liked how Rutschman handled himself just a night after the player learned he was being promoted from Triple-A Norfolk.
“It was a cool moment, something I’m sure he’ll never forget,” Hyde said. “(Fans) were excited to see him. There was so much build-up and anticipation. … Now he can exhale a little bit and just start playing the game.”
The Rays will wait to see the status of third baseman Yandy Diaz, who had an awkward head-first slide at the plate in the sixth inning and missed the rest of Saturday’s game with a shoulder strain.
Tampa Bay played without shortstop Wander Franco, who developed quad tightness a night earlier in the 13-inning loss to the Orioles.
“He has been dealing with it for a while,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “(He was) available off the bench.”
Keeping outfielder Randy Arozarena in the lineup would be ideal. He continued to bash Baltimore with two home runs Saturday night. It marked his fifth career multi-homer game, with three coming against the Orioles.
“Thankfully, I’ve been able to connect well with them,” Arozarena said. “I don’t know exactly what it is. I wish I could play against them all the time.”
This will be the rubber game of the series. The Rays have won seven of their last nine series.
Right-hander Corey Kluber (1-2, 4.29 ERA) will start for the Rays in the series finale. Tampa Bay has scored just five total runs in support of Kluber’s last three starts. Against the Orioles, Kluber holds a 5-1 record and 2.94 ERA in 11 career starts.
Spenser Watkins (0-1, 5.10 ERA) goes to the mound for the Orioles. The right-hander went 1-3 in four starts last season vs. the Rays, though he hasn’t won a game since beating Tampa Bay on July 19.
The Orioles sent left-hander Nick Vespi to Norfolk on Saturday — a day after he picked up the victory in his first major league game.
Tampa Bay has won 28 of its last 31 meetings with the Orioles, including four of five this season.
–Field Level Media