The lack of Adley Rutschman and a struggling Dean Kremer caused some major 2021 vibes this afternoon. Kremer allowed a career-high 11 hits and five runs in five innings, and the Tigers defeated Baltimore 7-4 in the first game of a doubleheader in Detroit.
Jorge Mateo blasted a three-run home run to trim the deficit in the eighth, and Baltimore brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Ryan Mountcastle failed to check his swing at a pitch in the dirt. Detroit added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings to clinch Game 1.
The Tigers scored in each of the first three innings to place Baltimore behind the eight ball. Zach McKinstry led off the first with a single, advanced to second on a deep fly ball, and scored on a single to center by Javy Báez. Kremer walked Spencer Torkelson before striking out Nick Maton, but the righty squandered an opportunity to end the inning with just one run allowed.
Kremer failed to field a squibbler down the first base line by Akil Baddoo. The ball popped out of Kremer’s glove and Baddoo reached safely to load the bases. The Tigers took advantage of the extra out with Matt Vierling lining a two-run single up the middle to place Detroit up three.
McKinstry doubled in the second and scored on a single by Riley Greene. Vierling drove in the fifth run with a double in the third.
Kremer allowed multiple base runners in the fourth and fifth innings but managed to escape without allowing additional runs. Still, Detroit spent plenty of time on the bases today.
The loss marked another difficult appearance for Kremer. He shutout the Nationals through 6.2 innings last week, but has now allowed four runs or more in his other five starts. The 27-year-old flourished last season but has joined Cole Irvin as a disappointment on the mound this year. Will he join Irvin in Norfolk’s rotation? The righty does have an option remaining.
Speaking of Norfolk’s rotation, Baltimore recalled DL Hall as their 27th man today. Hall replaced Kremer and turned in a mixed bag through the final three innings.
Hall demonstrated his swing-and-miss stuff with seven strikeouts but allowed plenty of traffic. He struck out the side after a leadoff single in the sixth, but Vierling plated the sixth run with another RBI double in the seventh. Vierling finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs on the day.
Mateo’s three run shot brought the Orioles within two, but Zack Short sent a first pitch fastball into the seats to start the eighth. Hall saved the bullpen for the second game but would like to have a few pitches back.
James McCann got the Birds on the board with a solo homer in the second. Rutschman pinch hit in the eighth inning to ensure an appearance in every game so far this season.
Mateo nearly launched a three-run shot in the fifth but the ball hooked foul. The shortstop eventually walked to load the bases, but McCann popped a ball up behind home plate to end the inning empty handed.
Baltimore wasted a leadoff double by Austin Hays in the first and failed to plate a run after a pair of singles in the ninth.
Detroit’s plethora of base runners made the margin feel even greater during the middle innings. Baltimore’s offense did what it could, but the Orioles were never able to overcome Kremer’s struggles. The fielding miscue in the first, and a similar play in the fourth, epitomized the day for the starter.
Grayson Rodriguez and a fresh bullpen will look to salvage a split for the Orioles in Game 2.