What a game. What a game! Dean Kremer pitched perhaps the best game of his short major league career, getting stronger as the night went on. The Orioles fought hard against Blue Jays’ ace Alek Manoah, breaking through to beat the pitcher for the first time this season. The Orioles wrapped up a series win against the team ahead of them in the standings on the road, and have a chance at a sweep tomorrow. How about that?
Let’s start with Kremer, whose first inning did not inspire confidence that this game would end in the win column. Just two batters into the game, the Blue Jays took the lead on a two-run homer from Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. It’s hardly an embarrassment to give up a home run to Vlad Jr., but it felt pretty demoralizing (to me on my couch) to see the Orioles fall behind so early.
Of course, we didn’t know it then, but those were the only two runs Kremer would give up the entire night. He wasn’t out of the woods though, first he had to squeak out of danger in the third inning.
A single from Vlad Jr and double from Lourdes Gurriel put runners on second and third with one out, then Kremer walked Alejandro Kirk to load the bases. It was not great! But the Orioles did what they Orioles do: they turned a double play. Matt Chapman hit a grounder to Jorge Mateo at shortstop and that was all she wrote for the Blue Jays.
After that, Kremer started to look locked in. This especially was the case starting in the bottom of the fifth inning after his teammates had tied the game in the top half. Those teammates were Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman, who picked an excellent time to hit back-to-back home runs.
Up until that inning, Manoah had been in control. It was nothing as extreme as what we saw last Sunday when Drew Rasmussen attempted a perfect game, but the Orioles still didn’t get many chances. They picked up a few walks (Anthony Santander and Rutschman), but went hitless until Rougned Odor singled with two outs in the fourth. That went nowhere as Ramón Urías struck out to end the inning.
But in the fifth, things got fun. Manoah got the first two outs quickly, but then Mullins struck for his 11th home run of the year, a 408-foot shot to center field. Not to be outdone, Rutschman then homered to right field, 411 feet. Just like that, tie game.
As I said, after that Kremer was in full control. George Springer grounded out to start he bottom of the fifth then Kremer struck out Guerrero and Gurriel for a quick inning. There wasn’t even time to worry if he was going to have a shutdown inning after his team got him some runs. He was just too dominant.
He was rewarded in the sixth inning with two more runs of support. Ryan Mountcastle, who was uncharacteristically quiet against the Jays tonight, grounded out. But on-base machine Terrin Vavra worked a walk off of Manoah, then moved up to second on a ground out from Odor.
Manoah had two outs and the bottom of the lineup coming up, but he couldn’t hold the tie. First, Urías singled to knock in Vavra to give the Orioles the lead. Incredible! Manoah responded by walking Jorge Mateo, who worked a great at-bat. That was it for Manoah, who was pulled from the game.
It wasn’t the end of the day for his pitching line, however, as relief pitcher Anthony Bass gave up an RBI single to Ryan McKenna to put the score at 4-2.
Kremer resumed dominance with the lead and never looked back. He threw a six-pitch sixth inning with a strikeout sandwiched between two groundouts. In the seventh inning he gave up a single on a perfect infield bunt by Santiago Espinal, but Espinal did us the Orioles a favor by trying to steal second. He did not succeed as Rustchman gunned him down.
After seven incredible innings, Kremer handed the ball over to Dillon Tate, who looked fantastic. Three quick groundouts and his day was done. All that was left to do was for Félix Bautista to come in the close the door. He did so and his pitches looked filthy in the process. It didn’t take long for him to retire the Jays 1-2-3 on a ground out and two strikeouts. Excellent!
Tomorrow the Orioles can go for a sweep and, once again, possession of a wild card spot. Game time is 3:07 with Alex Voth facing Ross Stripling.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 16th?
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Dean Kremer (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K)
Adley Rutschman (2-for-4, dinger, walk)
Ramón Urías (2-for-4, go ahead RBI)