Giving up hard contact and throwing a lot of balls doesn’t always mean giving up a lot of runs but pretty often, it means exactly that. Unfortunately for Dean Kremer and for Orioles fans, Wednesday’s start involved a lot of hard contact, many bad pitches, and six runs allowed in 4.1 innings. The Yankees hit Kremer hard all night, and before three innings were up, the game was out of reach. Broadcaster Kevin Brown tastefully called it a “learning experience” for Dean Kremer. Let’s hope.
On Monday night, Matt Harvey got squeezed by a strike zone as minuscule as home plate umpire Will Little’s name implied. On Wednesday, umpire Junior Valentine called a strike zone that was also at times appropriate for Little Leaguers. The difference: Harvey rose to the occasion and made his pitches, while a flustered Kremer missed outside the zone or right over the plate all night.
The real damage was done in the third inning, but the first had every right to go even worse than it did. With DJ LeMahieu aboard, Giancarlo Stanton smoked a ball 119 mph at Maikel Franco that somehow, magically, yielded a double play. Defensive liability, this guy?
119.4 MPH into the leather.— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 28, 2021
The corner was HOT but Maik stayed cool. pic.twitter.com/0YybBHKxQD
It was good to see Franco and the D lift up their pitcher. But that pitcher kept getting tagged: Gleyber Torres hit a two-out double down the right-field line before Kremer reared back for a crucial strikeout.
Kremer escaped the second with just a solo home run allowed, when the lamely mustachioed Mike Ford timed up a 93-mph fastball just well enough to sneak it over the left field fence, all of 344 feet. But Kremer wasn’t locating well, and announcer Jim Palmer chided, “He’s been behind everybody.” It was true.
Things really went off the rails in the third. LeMahieu singled again. Again, Kremer fell behind Giancarlo Stanton, and again, Stanton crushed a ball, this time right at poor Pat Valaika, who at least managed to block the thing. That put two men on for Gleyber Torres. This may not be the Gleyber Torres that gave Gary Thorne hissy fits all through 2019, but even he could time up the horrifically hung curveball Kremer sent his way, singling home the Yankees’ second run.
At this point, Jim Palmer started complaining that catcher Pedro Severino was setting up right in the middle of the plate, instead of giving Kremer a target. It was an interesting point. Tonight did seem a somewhat sulky, listless outing by Severino, who let a few balls go by him that he ordinarily doesn’t. (He’d make up for it in the eighth, though, see below.) Then again, if you were setting up low-and-inside and your pitcher kept missing down the middle, maybe it’d grate on you, too. Right then, Kremer served up a middle-middle cutter to Gio Urshela, and like that, the ball was in the stands and it was 5-0 Yankees.
Kremer gritted through a scoreless fourth and a couple more batters in the fifth, but his night was over after 4.1 innings with six runs to his name and an ERA now at 8.40. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Kremer struck out four and didn’t walk anyone.
Kremer’s poor start would have stung less if there’d been something to report on the offensive side, but the Orioles bats were dead quiet tonight against the Yankees’ starter, the troubled Domingo Germán. Germán, who’s struggled with fastball command, not to mention poor judgment, was somewhat wild early, but these Orioles hitters never really challenged him or made him pay for his mistakes. He improved steadily through the game, gaining command of all three offspeed pitches—a sinker, a curveball, and a mean changeup. With Germán changing speeds all game, the contact the Orioles did make was miserably weak. They didn’t even notch their first hit until the fifth, and that was a ground ball Ryan Mountcastle legged out.
Germán stuck it out through the seventh, and though the Orioles made some noise that inning—a ringing Trey Mancini single plus a 115-mph Pedro Severino rocket—the rally died there. (Trey Mancini was one nice exception to the offensive futility, with two hits and three hard-hit balls on the night. Maybe the frost is thawing.)
If you’re into looking on the bright side of life and such things, there is still the bullpen. Shawn Armstrong came in looking somewhat wild, but he gave up zero runs in 1 2/3 innings. Tyler Wells did not get eaten up by the Yankees’ 2-3-4 hitters in the seventh inning, though he did throw one consecutive fastball too many to Clyde Frazier in the eighth. It wouldn’t have been a home run in too many parks, but it counts in Camden Yards. That made it 7-0 Yankees. On the plus side, the fresh-faced Wells made some good pitches and showed composure. And he does have “great staredown game,” according to Kevin Brown. Jim Palmer doesn’t love the nickname, but I, for one, wouldn’t mind calling Wells “Big Baby.”
Wells was also aided by this Pedro Severino webgem in the eighth. Whatever was bothering the Orioles catcher before, he seemed to have gotten over it.
Routine play for Pedro Severino in left field pic.twitter.com/eEBWgb4VR5— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) April 29, 2021
Finally, Tanner Scott made quick work of the Yankees in the ninth, seemingly having left his command problems, along with his pervy cop ‘stache, behind him.
So that’s the good news, I guess. The bullpen is still solid, the defense had its moments, Trey Mancini is making contact, and Dean Kremer may figure stuff out eventually. Now, the question is, who is going to wake up the Orioles’ ice-cold offense?