After two games against the Mets that felt like comfortable wins, the Orioles today won a nailbiter with a score of 2-0. This game was won by the defense and the bullpen, which was unusual but a welcome sight. With an early exit from Kyle Bradish and offense that scraped together only two runs, the Orioles needed it.
Gunnar Henderson was dominant in the field, making play after play from shortstop, though he was hitless at the plate. Ryan Mountcastle was great at first base and Ryan McKenna made a great catch in left field. It was a stark contrast to the sloppy play by the Mets. And four relief pitchers combined to throw 4.2 innings with just two baserunners.
Kyle Bradish did not surrender a run today, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He put runners on in every single inning he pitched and had to be removed after just 4.2 innings. He only gave up three hits, but boy was it an ugly outing.
Bradish started his day by hitting Jeff McNeil but got out of the inning on a double play ball from Pete Alonso. Two batters reached in both the second and third innings (single and walk in both), but again Bradish escaped. In the third, Alonso hit into another double play.
The fourth inning was Bradish’s most successful as he walked the first batter, DJ Stewart, but retired the next three. He wasn’t as lucky in the fifth. He got the first two outs but then couldn’t retire another batter. After a walk and a single, Alonso again came up with runners on. This time Bradish walked him to load the bases and that was all she wrote. Brandon Hyde called for Cionel Pérez, who retired the lefty Stewart and end the inning.
While Bradish was scuffling but keeping the Mets off the board, the Orioles batters were doing similar against José Quintana, but with fewer walks. Quintana got through the first two innings with just a single by Ramón Urías. But in the third, he faltered.
With two outs, Adley Rutschman walked, Ryan Mountcastle singled, and Anthony Santander walked to load the bases. That brought up Gunnar Henderson, just the player you want up in this situation. Unfortunately, Gunnar hit the first pitch he saw to left field for the third out.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Orioles finally broke through against Quintana. A lot of it had to do with the Mets’ defense, but that’s baseball. Jorge Mateo hit a sinking fly ball to center field. Rafael Ortega dove and completely botched the play. The ball rolled past him toward the fence and Mateo was off to the races. He ended up with a stand-up triple but I think he could have gotten the inside-the-park homer.
I know the game was scoreless at the time, but if there was a player you’d predict would hit the inside-the-parker, it has to be Mateo. He’s blazing fast. It would have been close with a good throw and, as the Mets have demonstrated all weekend, they don’t generally make good throws. It would have been as exciting as hell and I like excitement! Plus, with the way the hitters were going in this game who knew if he’d even get brought in from third?
Well, he did get brought in, thanks again to the Mets defense. Rutschman hit a grounder to third with Mateo running on the play. A good play would have nailed Mateo at the plate, but third baseman Mark Vientos couldn’t make a clean play, however, and was forced to take the out at first. Mateo scored to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Thanks Mets!
In the seventh inning, a double by James McCann and a single by Ryan McKenna drove Quintana from the game. With runners on the corners, Buck Showalter turned to Trever Gott. With the lefty out of the game, Ryan O’Hearn pinch-hit. It didn’t really work out as he immediately hit a double play ball. Except that Mets just...didn’t turn it? The run would have scored either way, though, and McCann came in to make it 2-0 on the fielder’s choice at second base. The Orioles were unable to take advantage of the extra out.
With Bradish making an early exit and the offense not providing many runs, it was important for the bullpen to continue its run of great pitching. And good news, they did! After Pérez finished the fifth inning he breezed through the sixth. Cole Irvin weirdly came on to pitch the seventh inning but had an incredibly quick 1-2-3 inning.
With Yennier Cano having pitched last night, Brandon Hyde turned to Shintaro Fujinami for the eighth inning and HE. WAS. INCREDIBLE. He struck Pete Alonso out looking on three pitches and DJ Stewart swinging on three high-outside fastballs ranging between 100.8 and 102.6 mph. Fuji then went 0-2 on Omar Narváez and the immaculate inning was in sight! But on the third pitch, Narváez popped out to shortstop to end the inning.
After that, it was all down to The Mountain. Félix Bautista hadn’t pitched since July 31st and when he gave up a double to Vientos and then went 3-0 on Brett Baty, it was troubling. But he bounced back to remind us that he is the best reliever in baseball. He recovered against Baty to get a fly ball out, then closed it out with another flyout and a strikeout of Dan Vogelbach. Great job by Bautista and great job by the bullpen all around.
Orioles sweep, 2-0! They are now 70-42 and maintain their three-game lead over the Rays, who won today. They have an at-home off day tomorrow before welcoming the Astros to town on Tuesday.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 6th?
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Cionel Pérez (bases loaded out to end the 5th, 1.2 IP with 0 H, 1 BB)
Cole Irvin (Perfect inning in relief in rare high-leverage spot)
Shintaro Fujinami (Perfect inning, 2 K, 9 pitches, dominant stuff)
Félix Bautista (30th save, general awesomeness)