Three home runs and another stellar start for Kyle Bradish led the Orioles to a 3-0 win on Thursday night in Cleveland, clinching the series and gaining ground in the AL Wild Card race.
Bradish is the headliner here. The rookie right-hander has had a roller coaster season, from the dizzying heights of that start in St. Louis to a dreadful stretch thereafter that ended with him on the IL. He has looked like a different pitcher since getting back onto the active roster, and these last two starts have been otherworldly.
The 25-year-old followed up eight shutout innings in Houston last week with seven more zeroes in Cleveland. It is a remarkable turnaround for a young pitcher, hitting his stride right when the Orioles need it most.
Bradish needed some help from his defense, particularly Gunnar Henderson, who turned a double play and made a nice diving stop to keep his pitcher out of a jam. But this was not an especially stressful outing for Bradish. He only threw 94 pitches. He only allowed two hits. Most of the contact he allowed was weak, and his three walks were easy enough to work around as a result.
And the bullpen was lights out behind. Cionel Pérez needed just 12 pitches to toss a clean eighth inning, striking out two in the process. Felix Bautista came in a little wild and issued a walk, but a pep talk from Rougned Odor and the rest of the infield seemed to settle him, and he closed things outs from there.
There wasn’t much to note on the offensive side of things for the O’s. All three runs came on home runs. Cedric Mullins hit the very first pitch of the game out for a home run to right field. Anthony Santander followed with a first-pitch homer of his own later on in the same inning. And then it was Ryan Mountcastle with the final blow, a long drive to left-center field in the fourth inning.
Ceddy starting the entertainment early tonight! pic.twitter.com/y5CKf5QdOs— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 1, 2022
The lineup combined for four other hits, all singles. Odor had two of them, Henderson added one, and Ramon Urías had the last one. Odor and Henderson also swiped a bag each, the first of Henderson’s big league career.
There were plenty of strikeouts from the Orioles offense, 13 to be exact. Debutant Jesús Aguilar and rookie Terrin Vavra went down on strikes three times each. But that’s life against Shane Bieber, one of the best pitchers in baseball. There is no shame there. Of course, it might mean Kyle Stowers gets some at-bats sometime soon, but that might not be such a bad thing either.
It was one of those games where the team was not exactly firing on all cylinders. Three runs is not usually enough to win a game, especially when your defense also makes two errors. But the O’s pitching staff picked everybody else up and paved a path to victory. The Orioles will need that to happen a few more times to make a serious push into the playoffs.
Speaking of which, it was a light night of work for scoreboard watchers. The only relevant team in action was the Mariners. They beat the Tigers 7-0, drawing even with the Rays for the top wild card spot. The win for the O’s puts them 1.5 games back of the idle Blue Jays for the final playoff spot in the AL.
The Orioles welcome in the Oakland Athletics for a three-game set at Camden Yards starting tomorrow night. Every game is crucial this time of year, but anything less than a sweep is going to feel disappointing. The A’s stink, and they just got knocked around by the Nationals this week. Game 1 begins at 7:05 with Dean Kremer on the mound.
Who was the Most Birdland Player on September 2?
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Adley Rutschman (RBI walk)
GUNNAR HENDERSON (two 2Bs, run scored)
Dean Kremer (six solid innings of work)
Jorge Mateo (2-RBI single in 8th)