I laughed when I heard the announcement that Kyle Bradish was getting his big-league call-up. For two weeks since John Means went down, Orioles fans had been told that prospect promotion would not be determined by what’s happening with the Major League roster. Even, like, a day ago all Elias would say about Bradish was, “Certainly, he and other people have put themselves on the radar for helping the staff this year.” Alrighty, then! But anyway, who cares about the nuances of GM-ese—it was thrilling to see Bradish getting the call.
This was my first good, long look at Kyle Bradish. Conclusion: his fastball command wasn’t perfect, and he made a couple of mistakes against a dangerous lineup. But you know what: O’s fans should be glad. This is real big-league starter stuff.
The very first inning of Bradish’s MLB career proved that pretty clearly. He hit 97 with his fastball and got some foolish-looking swings on a slider with so much life to it that Robinson Chirinos let a swinging third strike squirt to the backstop, giving Trevor Story first base. It didn’t matter: a big 12-6 curveball erased Story on a double play. Bradish looked particularly sharp when he spotted a fastball on the corner against Rafael Devers, then dotted a biting changeup to the exact same location, drawing a whiff.
Bradish’s second inning was something of a mess, however. The Red Sox led off with what MASN’s Kevin Brown called a “38-degree fister” that just trickled out of a sliding Mullins’ glove. It would have been a really nice out to have, because with one out and one on, Christian Arroyo guessed correctly on a fastball and drove it out of the park. The next man up, speedster Jackie Bradley Jr., reached on an infield hit before catcher Christian Vazquez hit a ball to right that a lumbering Mancini couldn’t keep from rolling past him to the wall. It was scored an unearned run on an error, but they still count on the scoreboard. 3-0, Red Sox.
Other than that, you couldn’t ask for much more from Bradish. He skated through the third, allowing just a two-out double to right. (Were the Red Sox trying to hit everything to Mancini in right? There were like seven straight balls hit in his direction. You guys couldn’t just let Ryan McKenna catch one, out of kindness?)
Bradish breezed through a one-two-three fourth and a perfect fifth, getting better as he faced the Sox lineup the second time. Arroyo, author of the home run, fanned on a malicious slider. The Bradish curve was coming in for strikes and eliciting lots of weak contact, too.
To my surprise, he came back out for the sixth inning, having thrown 74 pitches. Xander Boegarts sent one to left that McKenna reeled in on the warning track: officially the first hit robbed by The Wall. Good job, Wall. Just give it an outfield glove and call it the Orioles’ Tenth Man. Other than that, nobody threatened Bradish’s solid six-inning debut. A hard-throwing righty with four highly differentiated pitches that he has command of? Sign us up for more.
After Bradish, the bullpen also looked fantastic tonight. Strike-throwing machine Keegan Akin was absolutely dominant for 2.2 innings of relief, throwing a ridiculous 31 of 37 pitches for strikes and flashing 95. (He would have been perfect but for a ninth-inning single and one ridiculous bobble by Rougned Odor, coming in at 2B, on the routinest of ground balls. A .196 average and bad hands? I get that he’s a clubhouse guy, but you’ve gotta wonder about the value-add here.) Jorge López was a little wild, but shut the door on the Sox with no issue.
Oh, the offense? Put it this way: you could have tuned out of the home half of the game for eight innings, made yourself a lovely home-cooked dinner, and checked back in in the ninth.
Against Old Man Rich Hill, the Orioles made garbage contact for four straight hitless innings. Hill commanded what is now an 88-mph fastball and then would dot in a 72-mph curveball right on the corner to make righties’ lives miserable. Seeing Ryan McKenna almost lose his helmet swinging through a curveball gave me a feeling of profound sadness.
The Orioles wasted scoring chances in the fifth, after Action Austin Hays squared up a pitch coming in at 71 mph from Hill and Ramón Urías singled against nasty sinker-baller Tanner Houck. But Tyler Nevin, who had a crappy day at the plate, grounded into a double play and Jorge Mateo whiffed to end the threat.
The O’s also squandered a bases-loaded situation in the seventh. The team’s two hottest hitters, Mountcastle and Hays, singled and walked before Ramón Urías hit one of the weirdest groundouts I’ve ever seen. Believing the ball bounced off of him, he never moved from the batter’s box. It moved the runners up to second and third for Tyler Nevin. Sadly, Houck whiffed him with a Pitching Ninja-worthy sinker. A pinch-hitting Anthony Santander walked to load the bases with two outs. More heroics from Rougned Odor? No. He was rung up.
A version of this happened in the ninth—except that before that failed rally, the locked-in-looking Ryan Mountcastle creamed a ball 423 feet away over The Wall for the O’s first and only run. (What a game for Mountcastle: 2-for-4 with a dinger and two great defensive plays at first, including a big-time stretch to get the O’s out of the ninth. And what a game for The Wall!) After that, Hays stung another single to right, and advanced to second on a balk. Against the tricky Hansel Robles, Urías and Nevin battled, but both ended up flying out. Anthony Santander had a chance to win it. He worked a walk. Chris Owings, the Orioles’ hero? Yeah, I didn’t buy it, either.
Anyway, this one was all about the 25-year-old Kyle Bradish. Good work, rookie! Hope there’s a lot more where that came from.