Rain couldn’t dampen the Orioles’ current run of form. They extended their winning streak to a league-best seven games on Saturday afternoon, beating the Angels 1-0 in front of a Hawaiian shirt-clad crowd at Camden Yards.
The win moves the Orioles to 42-44 on the season with a chance to end the day only three games back of a wild card spot in the American League. Each win during this streak has seemed more improbable than the last, but the conclusion is the same. These Orioles are, in fact, pretty darn good.
Pitching owned the day for both sides in this one. O’s starter Dean Kremer got back on track after a rough outing earlier in the week, and Angels hurler Patrick Sandoval was equally impressive, striking out 10 over his 6.1 innings.
Kremer would last only five innings as the Angels lineup inflated his pitch count and made him work to get outs. It took him 25 pitches to get out of the first inning even though he allowed just one base runner, a walk to Shohei Ohtani. He tossed another 26 pitches in the third inning. This was a theme for his day.
But it was an impressive start nonetheless. He faced Mike Trout three times and avoided significant damage with a flyout, a walk, and a ground out. That ground out was particularly important because it represented the end of the Angels’ only real threat to score on Kremer.
With one out in the fifth inning and a runner (Brandon Marsh) on second base, Trout hit a grounder to third base, where Tyler Nevin collected and fired to Trey Mancini at first base for the out. Marsh took off for third on the throw, but Mancini came up firing after recording the out. His throw was late, but Marsh’s slide brought him off the bag while Nevin held down the tag to finish off the double play and end the inning. It was a bit of good luck, but also some poor base-running with defending MVP Ohtani due up next.
The Orioles had already scored their only run of the day by that point. In came in the fourth inning. Ryan Mountcastle singled with out out and moved to second base on a wild pitch from Sandoval. And that set up Anthony Santander to smack a single into left field to score Mountcastle and put the good guys up 1-0.
There weren’t any other real chances for the Orioles to score. Sandoval was terrific, and the two Los Angeles relievers (Aaron Loup and Andrew Wantz) after him didn’t allow any hits over their 1.2 innings of work. Fortunately, the Baltimore bullpen was just as good.
Bruce Zimmermann returned to the big leagues in a relief role, and he was summoned immediately to follow Kremer. It was not the most impressive of innings as he allowed a pair of singles and needed a double play to get out of trouble. But he did escape unscathed.
Joey Krehbiel took the seventh, and immediately served up a double off the out-of-town scoreboard to Luis Rengifo. A fly out to deep left field from Kurt Suzuki moved Rengifo to third base. But Krehbiel fought back, coming through with a huge strikeout of Marsh for the second out. Brandon Hyde called on Félix Bautista for the final out, and he delivered, inducing a weak ground ball from Jonathan Villar to end the frame.
The big righty stayed on for the eighth in which he faced the heart of the Angels lineup: Trout, Ohtani, and Taylor Ward. It didn’t cause much of a problem for Bautista. He struck out Trout and Ward with an Ohtani ground out in between. His sensational rookie season continues.
That left the ninth inning for Jorge López, and of course there were some hairy moments, like when he hit Michael Stefanic with one out, or when pinch runner Andrew Velazquez stole second base, or even the final out of the game, which Suzuki seemed to hit pretty well, but Austin Hays managed to track down anyway. López still closed things out, striking out two in the process, and securing his 16th save of the season.
It wasn’t the best showing for the offense, but man does the pitching continue to impress. Kremer seems to have turned a corner. Bautista is amazing. And it feels like López is over whatever it was that had him off last week.
And the vibes of the team, in general, continue to be immaculate. A team doesn’t win seven games by accident. These guys can play ball, and they are taking advantage of a weaker point in their schedule. That is what competitive teams do. They are stacking wins, forcing their way into the playoff picture, and putting the onus on the front office to make some tough decisions. That is what you want from your team nearing the end of an extensive rebuild.
The O’s get one more crack at the Angels on Sunday as they look to push their win streak to eight and finish off a second straight sweep. Austin Voth (0-1, 7.20 ERA) is slated to start. He will be opposed by José Suarez (1-2, 4.30 ERA). First pitch is 12:05 p.m. from Camden Yards, and beware that this game is on Peacock, so yes it will be a pain to find for many of us.
Who was the Most Birdland Play for July 9th?
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Dean Kremer (W, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 SO)
Félix Bautista (H, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO)
Anthony Santander (2-for-4, RBI)