Dean Kremer has had his struggles the third time through the order this season, with the splits likely factoring into why Orioles manager Brandon Hyde aggressively went to his bullpen in the right-hander’s previous start Sunday at the Little League Classic. But on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, with Kremer cruising into the seventh inning against the best team in the American League, Hyde extended the young pitcher’s leash.
Although the Houston Astros struck for their first run of the series in the frame, Kremer finished it with a double play, then got two more outs in the eighth to guide the Orioles to a 3-1 victory and earn a series win in Houston that moved Baltimore within 1 1/2 games of an AL wild-card spot.
Kremer’s 7 2/3 innings gave Baltimore (67-59) its third straight outing of at least seven frames, the first time the club has had such a turn through its rotation since July 31 to Aug. 2, 2017, when Ubaldo Jiménez, Dylan Bundy and Jeremy Hellickson each went deep in a sweep of the Kansas City Royals.
“Dean just continues to improve, like a lot of our young starters are right now,” Hyde said. “Great to see these guys going deeper in the game, learning how to pitch, but he had really good stuff again tonight like he did his last start. Just every pitch going, really unpredictable.
“Just an outstanding performance.”
After veteran Jordan Lyles worked seven innings in Thursday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox, rookie Kyle Bradish gave the Orioles their deepest start of the year Friday by completing eight shutout innings. Kremer followed them by facing the minimum through six innings Saturday, with a single from Jose Altuve to open the fourth quickly erased on a double play. Altuve opened the seventh with a double and eventually scored on a single from Yordan Alvarez, but Kremer got another double play to end the inning.
Pitching in the eighth inning for the first time in the majors, Kremer recorded the inning’s first two outs before Trey Mancini singled into center field for his first hit against his former club, prompting Hyde to bring in closer Félix Bautista for a four-out save. He retired every batter he faced with three strikeouts, leaving a Houston offense that entered the series in the top three of the AL in runs, home runs and slugging percentage with one run through two games.
“I don’t know if it’s our offense or if it’s their pitching,” Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters. “They’re pitching the heck out of us. They’re throwing everything in the book at us — a lot of cutters, changeups, breaking balls. They’re pitching and the bullpen, we knew it was good coming in here, but they’re just pitching the heck out of us.”
Kremer and Bradish were each acquired as part of the trade return for a player Baltimore once drafted with a top-five pick — Kremer for Manny Machado, and Bradish for Bundy. In the past two days, they provided more starts of at least 7 2/3 innings than the Orioles had previously gotten in Hyde’s four-season tenure.
“I believe every day is a different day,” Kremer said. “But watching him set the table made me feel like, ‘Oh, I can do this too.’”
In the past 11 games, the Orioles’ rotation has a 2.25 ERA, averaging more than six innings per start. Sunday, they’ll go for their second straight series sweep at Minute Maid Park, with Austin Voth, who has a 2.85 ERA since being claimed from the Washington Nationals, opposing AL Cy Young Award favorite Justin Verlander.
“We go out there trying to win every night,” Kremer said. “Doesn’t matter who the opponent is. But to beat the Astros at their place, take two, potentially three tomorrow, is huge.”
For the second straight game, all of Baltimore’s offense came via home runs. The Orioles were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the series when Adley Rutschman, who caught both Bradish and Kremer, doubled with one out in the third before Anthony Santander took José Urquidy deep to the second deck in right field. Two batters later, Austin Hays sent a ball out to left, where Mancini watched it sail over his head.
Saturday marked the Orioles’ seventh straight game decided by two or fewer runs, with Baltimore going 5-2 in those matchups.
“I love how we’re playing the game right now,” Hyde said.
Sunday, 2:10 p.m.
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Source: Berkshire mont
Be First to Comment