Bradish outduels Verlander as Orioles take opener against Astros, 2-0
Kyle Bradish needed to be almost perfect for the Orioles to win on Thursday. That’s exactly what he was.
On Wednesday night, Jordan Lyles pitched a complete game for the Orioles. On Thursday, Kyle Bradish came one batter short of notching a CG of his own. The O’s rookie was nothing short of dominant, taking a perfect game against the Astros into the sixth inning and making it almost all the way to the end with only two hits allowed. As exciting as the two hits: No walks! Bradish’s brilliance helped the Orioles to a 2-0 victory in the series opener, their 78th win of the season.
The fact that Bradish was able to do this while dueling against Astros ace Justin Verlander makes it even more impressive. He had to know that there would be little room for error. Sure enough, there wasn’t. The O’s were fortunate to scratch two runs across against Verlander. Bradish was great enough that he was able to make those two runs hold up the rest of the way. He was so good that despite only a two-run cushion, it never even felt tense. Bradish sent ten Astros down on strikes, a solid feat against one of the hardest teams in all of MLB to strike out.
For the season, this makes 16.2 scoreless innings pitched by Bradish against the 99-win Astros. That’s mighty impressive too. He did it with a little help from his friends, especially Jorge Mateo, who was playing “protect the perfect game” level defense even after it was over. The shortstop simply sparkled, as he often does. It is fun to watch him do his thing.
The Orioles grabbed their two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Ryan Mountcastle grounded the first pitch he saw from Verlander into center field for a one-out base hit. Following him, rookie Terrin Vavra hit a liner that was over the second baseman’s head and in front of the right fielder. On the TV broadcast, Jim Palmer was upset that Mountcastle didn’t get to third base on this play. Thankfully, this did not end up mattering that much.
Fellow rookie Kyle Stowers was in an 0-2 hole against Verlander before working his way back to a 3-2 count and fouling off a couple of tough pitches. When Stowers finally put a ball in play, it was a weak grounder that allowed both runners to advance. With two out, it would take a Rougned Odor base hit to score the runs.
Odor came through. He went up to the top of the zone to drive a liner into center field, allowing both runners to score. The Orioles never had another chance with men in scoring position after this Odor hit.
That’s partly because the only O’s extra-base hit in the game was a fifth inning double hit by Cedric Mullins, and before that play was over, Mullins was thrown out on the bases. This was about as dumb as it sounds. Mullins doubled into the right field corner, and a high throw in to second from Astros right fielder Tucker rolled all the way to the wall on the third base side of the field. Mullins took third on the throw, then on what appeared to be his own initiative after stutter-stepping just long enough to peek, headed home. He was thrown out easily. This was dumb.
Again, thanks to Bradish, it didn’t matter. The Astros did not have an at-bat with a man in scoring position for the entire game. As MASN’s Kevin Brown observed, “Tonight, Kyle is spelled with a C-Y.” Yordan Alvarez, whose OPS is over 1.000 for the season, took an 0-for. So did the 20+ homer duo of Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman, and former Oriole Trey Mancini. Mauricio Dubón’s two-out single in the sixth and Jeremy Peña’s two-out single in the ninth was it.
With Bradish at 100 pitches after Peña got on base and with the tying run coming to the plate, manager Brandon Hyde called upon Félix “The Mountain” Bautista for the final out. It was not a popular decision with the 16,417 fans who were in attendance, many of whom booed when Hyde emerged from the dugout.
Bradish got a well-deserved standing ovation on his way off the field and Bautista struck out Aledmys Díaz to put the O’s in the win column. This was the second standing ovation of the night. Fans gave a nice recognition to Mancini when he stepped to the plate in the first inning.
Bradish improved to 4-7 on the season. Bautista’s save was his 15th. This is a serious run that Bradish has been on since returning from the injured list on July 29. He’s now got a 2.67 ERA in 11 starts. It says a lot about how he pitched before the injury that his season ERA is only down to 4.65 after tonight. If that improvement sticks, that’s going to be fun.
Had Bradish completed the game, this would have marked the first back-to-back nine-inning complete games by Orioles pitchers since June 11 and 12, 1999. The two guys in those games: Sidney Ponson and Juan Guzmán. It’s been a while. Instead, as noted by The Sun’s Nathan Ruiz, Lyles and Bradish become the first Orioles to make consecutive 8+ inning starts since Chris Tillman and Scott Feldman did so on July 21 and 22, 2013. It’s been a while for that too.
The Astros had as many hits as Bradish had Gatorade coolers dumped on him after the game:
Bath time for Bradish pic.twitter.com/XEyQ2Thtnj
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 23, 2022
The faint Orioles wild card hopes received no assistance elsewhere on Thursday, as the Mariners beat the Athletics and the Rays beat the Blue Jays. This leaves the Orioles trailing Seattle by four games with 13 to play, and it’s really five games since the Mariners hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The two teams will be back in action on Friday night, with Houston again seeking its 100th win of the season and the O’s trying to creep closer to securing a winning season. They only need to find four more wins to do this. It doesn’t sound that hard, but these guys are only scoring 3.65 runs per game for the month. That will make it hard unless Dean Kremer pitches like Lyles and Bradish did. Jose Urquidy is set to start the 7:05 contest for the Astros.
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