The first look at the probable pitchers for this series painted quite the mismatch. Lance McCullers, Jose Urquidy and Justin Verlander appeared to have the upper hand against Baltimore, but the Orioles have shown all year that they are full of surprises.
Baltimore flipped the script with a dominant pitching performance by Kyle Bradish. Ramón Urías made the difference with a two-run home run, and the Orioles blanked the Astros 2-0 in the first of a three-game set in Houston.
Kyle Bradish flashed potential early this year before right-shoulder inflammation derailed his rookie season. Bradish delivered four acceptable starts after returning from the IL in early August, but the rookie took things to another level tonight.
Bradish turned in eight scoreless innings in what should easily be considered the best start of his young career. The rookie limited Houston to just two hits and a pair of walks. Bradish struck out six and threw 67 of 96 pitches for strikes.
Bradish located well, kept his pitch count down, and used both the changeup and slider to keep Houston off balance. The righty did not press after Baltimore failed to provide any run support early on, and he saved the bullpen after an 11-inning game last night.
Brandon Hyde displayed plenty of confidence in Bradish when he sent him back out for the eighth inning. Bradish made quick work of Mauricio Dubon, a pinch-hitting Christian Vazquez and Jose Altuve to become the first Orioles starter to complete eight innings this season.
Tonight marked the first game that a Baltimore pitcher threw eight full innings since John Means tossed a no-hitter last May.
Orioles’ closer Félix Bautista was not available after completing a career-high two innings last night. Hyde turned to Cionel Pérez to close out the ninth, and Houston doubled its hit total with a pair of one-out singles by Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman.
Pérez generated a fly ball from Kyle Tucker to record the second out before Trey Mancini stepped into the box representing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
Mancini needs no introduction around here. He’s an all time fan favorite and a future Orioles’ Hall of Famer. It’s great to see him experiencing immediate success with Houston, but the Birds needed a break tonight.
Hyde summoned Dillon Tate for the matchup, and Tate rose to the occasion. Tate needed only three pitches to strike out his former teammate and clinch the win for the Orioles.
The Orioles finally secured the lead after several missed opportunities early in the contest. Baltimore went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position over the first three innings, but they used some two-out lightning in the sixth.
Kyle Stowers poked a single to right field to extend the inning, and Urías followed with a 389-foot shot onto the train tracks at Minute Maid Park. The blast gave Baltimore a two-run lead, and it proved to be all the Birds would need with Bradish on the mound.
Baltimore failed to solve Lance McCullers Jr. through the first five frames. The Astros turned to Cristian Javier in the sixth, and Urías provided him the proper greeting. Houston slotted Javier to provide long relief with McCullers still getting his feet wet after a delayed start to this season.
Tampa Bay and Toronto lost tonight, which brought the Orioles within three games of the top Wild Card spot. The Orioles could finish the night just 1.5 games back of the third spot if Seattle falls to Cleveland later this evening.
Dean Kremer will get the ball tomorrow as the Orioles look to take the series in Houston.
Who was the most Birdland player on August 26?
This poll is closed
Kyle Bradish (Eight scoreless innings)
Ramón Urías (2-4, Two-run HR)