Before the Orioles began their final homestand on Friday, manager Brandon Hyde said he expected a rebound from right-hander Dean Kremer.
It took a little longer than expected, but he got it.
After a nearly two-hour rain delay, the Orioles beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0, for their fourth straight win, with Kremer allowing no runs in his 6 1/3 innings. Kremer had a 6.94 ERA in five starts in July but pitched well to keep Baltimore undefeated in August, striking out 14 Pirates in a row before a one-out brace in the seventh ended his night. Kremer joined veteran Jordan Lyles as the only Baltimore starters to record a seventh-inning out multiple times this year. Kremer’s outing finally gave the Orioles a breakthrough on a night they squandered scoring opportunities in four of the first five innings.
“Usually when you waste that much early, you expect something bad to happen,” Hyde said. “But luckily for us, Dean Kremer, for me, it was his best outing of the year. I think he did a good job of mixing his curveball and his change with a good fastball and the cutter. Launched with a ton of confidence tonight. That’s what I take away from this game. It’s huge for us and for him.
With the victory, the Orioles (55-51) kept pace with the Tampa Bay Rays in the race for American League wildcards, remaining two games away from a playoff spot. The 55 wins are the most in a season during Hyde’s four-season tenure.
With closer Jorge López traded to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Hyde asked what was his main pair of setup men for the last eight outs behind Kremer. Southpaw Cionel Pérez got the first five, finishing with a strikeout and a knockout, before Félix Bautista recorded his first save since inheriting the role of López’s closest.
“I did it a little differently than we did in the past,” Hyde said. “These guys are going to be put in a little different positions right now just because Lopey isn’t there and they’re going to have to get the guys on both sides of the plate out a little more now, all the way. road. [Joey] Krehbiel, [Bryan Baker]all of these types of guys are going to have to step up a bit and take on a bit bigger roles than they’ve been playing.
The only point of the game came in the bottom of the sixth. Anthony Santander doubled to open the frame before Ryan Mountcastle was knocked out, the Orioles’ 10th consecutive unsuccessful game with a runner in scoring position to open the game. Rookie infielder Terrin Vavra continued his brigade on base with a field single against Pirates starter Mitch Keller, with Ramón Urías then clipping a left single to score Santander.
Amid his three-hit night, Vavra at one point reached seven consecutive board appearances since Monday, the first Orioles rookie with such a streak since Jerry Hairston Jr. in 1999.
The Orioles finished 2 for 15 with second or third runners, but Kremer, Pérez and Bautista held Pittsburgh without a hit in those situations for Baltimore’s 10th shutout, tied for the club’s fourth most in the last 30 years with 56 games to play. Their four 1-0 wins are the franchise’s most since 1983, the last time they won the World Series.
Second base umpire Carlos Torres missed the game after being ill, leaving the clubs with a team of three umpires. This circumstance led to a strange situation in the seventh inning.
After Kremer came out and made way for Pérez, the Orioles southpaw took a 1-2 lead over Pittsburgh’s Oneil Cruz, then forced a check-swing on a slider into the dirt. Catcher Adley Rutschman pointed to third base to decide if Cruz swung, but no umpire was there. Plate umpire Edwin Moscoso then ruled that Cruz had swung in and thus out, prompting an objection from the Pirates bench.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton was ejected in the bottom of the eighth after Moscoso ruled Orioles outfielder Brett Phillips did not play on a similar play.
Cruz’s strikeout was the first of Pérez’s five strikeouts, with Hyde noting before the game that he would be asking more of his remaining relievers after López was traded this week.
“The mentality remains the same,” Pérez said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “Nothing changes. We have to go out there and play and help the team win and do our best.
Bautista failed twice in the ninth with a pair of strikeouts for his first stop since inheriting the role of closest. Bautista’s 17 fastballs in the outing were 100 mph or more, per Baseball Savant, as he joined St. Louis’ Jordan Hicks as the only reliever this season with that many 100 mph pitches in a single outing. .
Baltimore entered Friday with the fourth-lowest ERA in the majors after earning the league’s worst rating in 2021.
“They have a bit of everything,” Kremer said. “Everything you can think of, they got it, except we don’t have submariners. But that’s about all.
Honor of Hays Heart and Bustle
Longtime Orioles minor league coach Alan Mills used to joke with Austin Hays that he would “find a way to get dirty in the tub,” Hays joked Friday, referring to his style of play which often sees him sliding into the inside dirt or diving through the outside turf.
Hays couldn’t do either on Friday, out of the lineup for the third time in four games with what he called “oblique tightness.” But that didn’t dampen his excitement at being named the Orioles’ representative for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s Heart and Hustle Award. The honors recognize players who “demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game,” according to the MLBPAA. Hays also recently partnered with the Orioles to create a $20,000 scholarship for a student from Maryland to pursue higher education.
“I give everything for my teammates, the organization and the city, I give them everything I have every day,” Hays said. “Just try to uphold the values and character of the game, day in and day out, for 162 every year, so it makes me really proud to accept this award for the Orioles.”
Hays said he was out of Friday’s training because he and the Orioles don’t want to aggravate his injury by pushing him away. In his absence, Phillips made his first start with Baltimore.
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