Kyle Bradish’s three homers and another stellar start led the Orioles to a 3-0 victory in Cleveland on Thursday night, winning the series and progressing in the AL wild-card contest.
Bradish is the headliner here. The rookie right-hander has had a roller coaster season, starting with dazzling heights in St. Louis and ending with a horrific period in Illinois. He’s looked like a different pitcher since returning to the active roster, and his last two starts have been otherworldly.
The 25-year-old had eight innings last week in Houston and another seven zeros in Cleveland. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a young pitcher, striding forward when the Orioles need it most.
Bradish needs some defensive help, especially Gunnar Henderson, he turned into doubles And made a nice dive stop to keep his pitchers from getting bogged down. But it wasn’t a particularly stressful outing for Bradish. He only threw 94 pitches. He only allowed two hits. Most of the touches he allows are weak, so his threes are easy to resolve.
The bullpen was out in the back. Cionel Pérez needed just 12 pitches for a clean eighth, hitting two innings in the process. Felix Bautista went a bit wild for a lap, but the boost from Rougned Odor and the rest of the infield seemed to calm him down, He closed everything from there.
For the O’s, there wasn’t much to notice on offense. All three games were home runs. Cedric Mullins hit a home run to right field on the first ball of the game. Anthony Santander then hit a home run of his own in the same inning. Then came Ryan Mountcastle’s final blow, driving wide to left midfield in the fourth.
The lineup combines four other hits, all as singles. The scent had two, Henderson added one, and Ramon Urias had the last. Smell and Henderson also got a pack each, a first for Henderson’s major league career.
The Orioles’ offense had plenty of strikeouts, 13 to be exact. Rookie Jesús Aguilar and rookie Terrin Vavra each had three strikes. But that’s life against one of baseball’s best pitchers, Sean Bieber. There is no shame there. Of course, that could mean Kyle Storrs is getting some hits soon, but that’s probably not a bad thing either.
It was one of those games where the team didn’t fully fire. Threes are usually not enough to win a game, especially when your defense also makes two mistakes. But the O’s pitching cheered everyone else up and paved the way for the win. The Orioles need this to happen a few more times to actually make the playoffs.
Speaking of which, it was an easy night of work for scoreboard watchers. The only relevant team is the Mariners. They beat the Tigers 7-0 and even competed with the Rays for a top wild card spot. The O’s win puts them 1.5 games behind the idle Blue Jays in the AL’s final playoff spot.
The Orioles welcome the Oakland Athletics to Camden Field for three games starting tomorrow night. Every game matters at this time of year, but any game that doesn’t get swept will be a disappointment. The A stinks, they just got knocked down by the Nationals this week. The first game started at 7:05 with Dean Kremer on the mound.
Who is the Birdland player to watch on September 1st?
Kyle Bradish (win, seven-inning homer)
Gunnar Henderson (defense, hair)
Cedric Mullins (opening home run)
Rough Smell (two hits to calm Bautista)
824 votes in total