I am known in my family as a person who hates pitchers’ duels. I like action, I like home runs. Does this make me an unsophisticated baseball fan? Perhaps, but I am what I am. But after watching tonight’s 1-0 win by the Orioles, maybe I could be convinced that these games aren’t so bad. At least, not when the Orioles end up on the right side of the duel.
Because what we had at Camden Yards tonight was, in fact, a pitchers’ duel. Two young pitchers who are recently back from injury faced off and it was a heck of a show. For the Rays it was Shane Baz, the highly rated prospect. For the Orioles, Dean Kremer, one of the few hopes for the Orioles that the Manny Machado trade return will have any positive impact for the team.
The Orioles offense couldn’t figure out Baz and never came close to scoring on him. In the first inning, Trey Mancini blasted a double with one out, but was stranded. And in the fifth inning, Adley Rutschman singled back up the middle. Between those two batters, Baz retired 11 out of 12 batters, a third-inning HBP of Tyler Nevin the only blemish.
Rutschman got to second base on a wild pitch, but Baz retired the final three of the inning and struck out the side in the sixth inning to punctuate his excellent outing. Thankfully for the Orioles, Baz only pitched the six innings.
Over on the Orioles side of things, Kremer wasn’t quite as good but that isn’t a ding on him. He had a very good night, I’m thrilled to report. Kremer worked around singles in the first, third, and fourth innings. In the fourth, the runner was erased by the trademark play of the Orioles’ infield, the double play. And it’s good because Kremer walked the next batter, but got the third out without any damage done.
After a 1-2-3 fifth inning, Kremer got a little help from his friends in the sixth. Vidal Brujan singled to start the inning, then with out out Brujan took off for second. Rutschman unleashed a throw that hopped just in front of second, and Jorge Mateo made a very nice catch to tag the runner for the second out.
That all happened with Ji-Man Choi at the plate, and just after he hit a ball down the right field line. Anthony Santander made a nice pick up and gunned the throw in to second base as Choi tried for the hustle double. Choi was called safe on the play but a review quickly overturned the call and the inning was over.
After six innings, both starters came out of the game and, I assume, both teams’ offenses breathed a sigh of relief.
For the Orioles, seeing a relief pitcher was all they needed to score the first run of the game. For the Rays, it just meant more pain.
Félix Bautista came on in relief for the Orioles in the seventh inning and holy cow is he fun to watch pitch. When his splitter is working in tandem with his 100+ mph fastball, I don’t know how anyone can get a hit off of him. Using the combination he struck out the side, two swinging and the final batter, Brett Phillips, looking.
For the Rays in the seventh, Calvin Faucher (pronounced foe-shay, oh la la) replaced Baz. After getting a lineout from Austin Hays, he could not contain Ryan Mountcastle, who launched a ball into Elrod’s Corner. It was an easy double and possibly could have been a triple but Mountcastle held up at second.
That set the table for Rutschman, who hit a nice easy single back up the middle. Mountcastle busted his tail to third, rounded the base, and headed for home. Chances looked pretty good that he’d be gunned down at the plate, but the throw from Brett Phillips in centerfield was terrible and Mountcastle slid in headfirst to give the Orioles the 1-0 lead.
That called for a pitching change for the Rays, and during the downtime the cameras caught Ryan McKenna fanning Mountcastle in the dugout after his race home, while Mountcastle mimed holding an oxygen mask to his face.
After Bautista got the first out of the eighth inning, he was replaced by Cionel Pérez. The normally steady Pérez was a bit shaky tonight. He started by giving up back-to-back singles to Taylor Walls and Manuel Margot, although the hit by Walls went past the diving Mancini and first and might have been pulled in by another first baseman. But Pérez came back to get a huge strikeout of Brujan.
With two on and two out, Brandon Hyde went to his closer. Jorge López made quick work of Yandy Diaz, striking him out swinging on 98 mph.
The Orioles offense made some noise in the bottom of the eighth, including a nifty double steal from Mullins and pinch runner McKenna, but failed to score. That meant the 1-0 lead had to hold up for just one more inning.
Spoiler: it did. You might have noticed that Jorge López is really good. He struck out the first two batters and then Harold Ramirez got to him for a single. But Phillips was no match for López’s fastball and struck out on 98 mph down the middle.
O’s win! They’ve now won three out of their last four games against the Rays after winning just one game against them in the entire 2021 season. The two teams are back in action tomorrow for a 4:05 start, with Kyle Bradish vs Jeffrey Springs.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, June 17th?
This poll is closed
Adley Rutschman - 2-for-3, game winning (and only) RBI
Dean Kremer - 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Félix Bautista - 1.1 perfect innings, 3 K, 7 pitches 100+ mph
Jorge López - 1.1 innings, 4 K, ERA down to 0.82