CINCINNATI — Orioles manager Brandon Hyde had seen this scenario before. His team’s throwing was pretty good from start to finish. His team’s offense mustered enough late quality batsmen to secure a victory.
This time, the Orioles, tied at 2-2, needed a four-run ninth inning to beat Cincinnati 6-2 in Game 1 of a three-game series and six-game road trip.
Now, a year after losing 110 games, the Orioles are 51-49 and .500 or better at the 100-game mark for the first time since their last playoff season in 2016. And now, as they try of becoming a surprise playoff entrant for 2022, they are just two games away from Tampa Bay for the AL’s final playoff spot.
The throw held long enough for the offense to show up and the Orioles posted their 23rd comeback win after leading 2-0 in five innings.
“Our bullpen, we’re down 2-0 and Kyle (Bradis) is going five and we put zeros the last four,” Hyde said. “They allowed our attack (to come back), even on nights when we struggled to stay in the game. We are dangerous offensively. I still think we can improve offensively. Our at-bats generally later in the game are very good and our bullpen, to me, is the reason for that. They were great at keeping the score right there.
As for rotation, the Orioles have now gone 12 straight games without a quality start with a 5.63 ERA in that span. But Bradish was just one round away from getting one last night. He made a strong comeback in the rotation from the disabled list.
Before the match, Hyde said he hoped Bradish would hit the strike zone. One night he didn’t walk and stoked seven, he mostly did that.
“He’s got such a live fastball and he’s got two good breaking balls,” Hyde said. “Good to see him land some break points tonight. He hadn’t pitched in the major leagues in a while, so you never know what a young IL pitcher will look like. For him to do five rounds on the road and giving up a two-run homer, I thought that was awesome.
After allowing Joey Votto’s 373-foot, two-point shot in the first, Bradish threw four scoreless goals until the fifth.
“That was awesome,” he said after his 81-shot night. “I was just waiting to be activated. I felt good and this one was pretty happy about it. Could have thrown more strikes but didn’t really give up hard contact. Even the home run, it wasn’t really a barrel roll. He executed a pitch and he put wood on it. But overall, good first outing back.
“I was hitting my spots. My misses, I had maybe two half-big misses on the fastballs going up. I was in the area and they were quite patient up there. But everything worked. »
Out due to an inflamed right shoulder, Bradish hadn’t pitched in the majors since June 18. He made three rehab starts between Double-A and Triple-A, allowing two of 12 2/3 runs. He used added time as a sort of mental reset, he said.
“Absolutely. I know guys, Dean (Kremer), Spenser (Watkins), talked to other guys about being on IL and they said go over there and clear your head and to come back strong.
He said he also spent time working on getting more distinct motion between his slider and curveball, as the motion and pitch shapes used to blend together.
So mental reset and a reset of his break locations produced better results this time around.
Anthony Santander had a big night at the plate for the Orioles, going 3-for-4. His two-run homer in the sixth tied the game 2-2. Santander said his team’s unity continues to be a key element in the win.
“We really support each other,” he said via team translator Brandon Quinones. “Every day when we walk into this clubhouse and take to the field, we are constantly motivating each other to be better. We work hard. That chemistry goes a long way and that’s one of the main reasons why we have done so well this year.
And Santander’s teammates backed him up in the ninth inning. Reds reliever Dauri Moreta hit him with a pitch shortly after he called time out. Santander felt the pitch was on purpose and took a step or two towards the mound. The canoes emptied but not much happened and order was quickly restored.
Said Santander of his actions in the ninth: “You know, it wasn’t really about taking a step forward. It’s just to let the pitcher know that I felt it was intentional. I know sometimes pitchers take offense to the fact that when you call time so close to the pitch being thrown, they can take offense to it and I understand. They might hurt themselves, or something like that. But at the same time, you can’t just throw a throw so inside like that. So I had to let him know and express how I felt.
The Orioles bullpen threw four scoreless runs in the game and allowed just one earned run in 22 2/3 innings the past five games. The pen’s ERA has dropped to 2.99, which ranks him third in the AL and MLB. The O team’s overall ERA is down to 3.89, sixth-best in the AL.
The O’s have won four of five, 16 of 21 and 27 of 41. They are 5-2 in their last seven road games and 16-7 in July.