Wow, folks. What were we all worried about going into this series? Fans were predicting a sweep at the hands of the Braves, it was all doom and gloom now that the so-called soft part of the schedule was over.
What the Orioles will look like at the end of their long stretch against winning teams remains to be seen, but they sure got things going on the right foot tonight with their 9-4 win over the first-place Braves.
A seven-run seventh inning gave the Orioles the oomph they needed to ride out the win after a six-inning pitchers’ duel between Dean Kremer and Atlanta’s ace, Max Fried.
Kremer was just incredible tonight. The Orioles really needed their starting pitcher to step up, and he did just that. It wasn’t easy for him, for sure, but the Braves are a very good team. He dealt with a fair amount of traffic on the bases, but when all was said and done, he turned in six great innings and gave the Orioles the chance to win.
The only run Kremer surrendered came in the very first inning, which of course gave me a feeling of “oh no, not again.” With Matt Olson on second and two outs, star catcher Sean Murphy hit a line drive single back up the middle to knock in the run and give the Braves a 1-0 lead.
I never would have guessed it at the time, but that was the only run Kremer allowed. He had just one 1-2-3 inning, the second, but was masterful at working out of jams. Murphy came up again in the third with two runners on, but this time his long fly ball landed safely in Cedric Mullins’s glove.
Kremer allowed another single and walk in the fourth, but again worked out of it. After an infield single in the fifth, Kremer induced a double play ball to end the inning. And he finished the sixth inning in a very exciting fashion. With a runner on first and one out, Dean got the old strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play to end the inning and his night.
His final pitching line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K. He wasn’t dominant but he was just what they needed. He left the game with the score 2-1 in favor of the Orioles, having outdueled ace Max Fried. Huzzah, Dean!
Fried looked as advertised to start the game, but he caused his own trouble in the third inning. After Ryan McKenna reached via infield single (originally called out, overturned on a challenge), Fried threw a pickoff throw over to first but first baseman Matt Olson had already turned toward home like the pitch was going there. The ball sailed past him and McKenna made it to third, where he came in to score the tying run on a groundout from Gunnar Henderson.
In the next inning, Anthony Santander untied the game in a hurry with his fourth home run of the season and the first of two he hit tonight (spoiler!). The dinger handed the Orioles the slimmest of leads, and Kremer was able to keep it right there.
Kremer was done after six innings but Fried went back out to start the seventh. This was a mistake on the part of the Braves. The first batter he faced, Cedric Mullins, clobbered a baseball that landed in the right field stands. The 390-foot shot got off the bat at 102 mph and was out of the ballpark like a bullet.
McKenna followed up with a bunt single, and Fried then walked Gunnar Henderson. You have to think that part of the reason Fried was still in was because two of the first three batters in the inning were the only two lefties in the lineup. He botched that, and he wasn’t done. Jorge Mateo dropped down a bunt. Fried pounced on the ball and threw it right past Olson! McKenna scored with Henderson and Mateo moving up to second and third.
Fried got one more shot...and he blew it. He walked Adley Rutschman and his day was done. His run total, however, was not. Relief pitcher Joe Jiménez retired Ryan Mountcastle, but then Santander stepped to the plate. I said to my husband in our living room, “Santander should hit a grand slam here.” The words were no sooner out of my mouth than he jumped on the very first pitch and launched it out of the ballpark. Incredible! What else can I do?
That closed the book on Max Fried. He had given up just one run this season before today, and his final pitching line was 6 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. His ERA went from 0.45 to 2.08. It would have been more if not for the two unearned runs that scored because of his own two errors.
Anyway, things seemed pretty magical in this moment but maybe the most enjoyable part of the game happened in the dugout during a challenge. James McCann doubled on a close play and the pitchers in the dugout loaded up their mouths with water in anticipation of the sprinkler celebration.
But wait, the Braves challenged the play! During the entire challenge, the cameras stayed on the dugout as they waited and waited and waited. They finally were able to celebrate when McCann came off the field for a pinch runner and did the sprinkler from the dugout. The team chemistry is just off the charts with these adorable boys. Check out the full video and description in Mark’s post.
Back to the action on the field! The Orioles tacked on one more run in the inning when Mullins singled in Austin Hays, the pinch runner who had replaced McCann. Two RBI hits in one inning! Love it.
Because things are never easy, the bullpen did give up a few runs after Kremer’s exit. Big Mike Baumann pitched an impressive seventh inning but fell apart in the eighth. That pain in the you-know-what Sean Murphy launched a three-run homer and chased Big Mike from the game. Keegan Akin came in and got into trouble himself but induced a double play ball to get out of it.
The ninth inning went to Austin Voth. Voth worked around a cheap leadoff double and finished the game with minimal drama.
O’s win! They are now 22-10 and have the second-best record in baseball behind the Tampa Bay Rays. They have now won the first game of 11 straight series to start the season, last done by the San Francisco Giants in 1973.
They’re back in action tomorrow at 7 pm for the Fox game of the week. They should go ahead and win and take the series. Hey, why not?
Who is the Most Birdland Player for May 5th?
This poll is closed
Anthony Santander (2 HR including a granny)
Cedric Mullins (HR, two RBI hits in the same inning)
Dean Kremer (6 IP, 1 R)