Orioles carry winning streak over to second half with 5-2 win over Marlins for sixth victory in a row

15 July 2023

The Orioles’ second half began much like the first half ended. Baltimore’s starting pitcher tossed a quality start, the offense blasted three home runs and the bullpen held the lead.

The Orioles extended the five-game winning streak they ended the first half with to six Friday with a 5-2 win over the Miami Marlins at Camden Yards. Dean Kremer tossed six stellar innings, Cedric Mullins and Adam Frazier accounted for all the offense and All-Star closer Félix Bautista slammed the door in the ninth.

Kremer allowed just two hits and struck out eight to extend the rotation’s streak of pitching at least six innings to eight consecutive starts. Seven of the eight, including Kremer’s on Friday, have been quality starts.

In the second, Mullins singled, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by Miami’s catcher and scored on Frazier’s opposite-field single. In the fourth, Mullins and Frazier both smashed home runs off Marlins starter and 2022 National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Frazier then blasted a two-run shot in the eighth for the first multi-homer game of his eight-year career.

“We know we’re good,” Frazier said. “We’ve got a really dangerous lineup one through nine, and every guy on the bench is dangerous. The pitching has showed up all year long. … We know we’re a complete team.”

The Marlins (53-40) loaded the bases in the third off Kremer, who allowed an RBI single to Bryan De La Cruz, but the Orioles righty escaped the jam by striking out Jesús Sánchez and then tossed three straight scoreless innings. All-Star Yennier Cano allowed a solo home run to Jorge Soler — the second long ball Cano allowed in the past three games after not surrendering one in his first 35. But Bautista didn’t let his Midsummer Classic hiccup affect him Friday, striking out two and retiring the side in order for his 24th save.

The win over the NL’s second-best team puts the Orioles (55-35), the AL’s second-best club, 1 1/2 games back of the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. The last time Baltimore was 20 games over .500 was in 2014.

The Orioles didn’t win their 55th game in 2022 until Aug. 5. In the previous four seasons, they didn’t win 55 games at all.

“The break was great, but everyone was itching to kind of get back,” Kremer said. “We’ve got another half. We’re hoping to produce the same thing we did the first half.”

The Orioles’ .607 winning percentage in the first half was the franchise’s best since 1997. The model that got them there is the same one they used Friday.

Kremer ended his uneven first half with perhaps the best start of his season — a seven-inning, 10-strikeout gem against the New York Yankees. After a 1-hour, 6-minute rain delay, he began the second half with another great start to lower his ERA to 4.59. The win was his 10th of the season, making Kremer one of nine pitchers in the majors with double-digit victories.

The last time Baltimore received at least six innings from its starters in eight straight games was in May 2015.

“We’re trying to give the bullpen a breather as best as we can,” Kremer said. “We have a long half, and they’re gonna be critical here down the stretch. If we can give them as much of a break as we can, we’re going to be in good shape.”

The 27-year-old got 16 swings and misses, with at least one on all five of his pitches. The total is the second most in his career, behind only his win over the Yankees last week.

After allowing four of the first six batters to reach in the third, he retired 10 of his final 11 before manager Brandon Hyde pulled him for right-hander Bryan Baker, who pitched a scoreless seventh.

“For me, that was a guy learning at the big league level,” Hyde said. “Sometimes you’re gonna have tough spots, but deal with adversity, come back, kind of regroup and those innings would’ve spiraled on him in the past and it didn’t.”

Mullins sparked Baltimore’s first scoring chance with his first of three hits. The center fielder struggled after he returned from the injured list in late June, failing to homer or steal a base in his first 14 games back. He did both Friday.

“I think everybody knows how good Cedric Mullins can be,” said Frazier, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. “If we got him going along with everybody else, it’s not fun for the opposition. Yeah, he’s dangerous.”

Frazier’s power in his first season as an Oriole has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. The 5-foot-10 second baseman has hit 12 home runs in 84 games to set a new career high, surpassing his previous best of 10 in 2018 and 2019. After totaling just eight home runs in 2021 and 2022 combined, he’s on pace to hit 21 homers this year. The 413-blast in the fourth was tied for the fifth-longest homer in his career, according to Statcast tracking data.

“Yeah, that’s surprising,” Hyde said. “The ability to take a great at-bat is not.”

Hyde provides injury updates

Before Friday’s game, manager Brandon Hyde provided an update on the six Orioles pitchers on the IL: reliever Dillon Tate (elbow flexor strain, 60-day), sidearm reliever Mychal Givens (right shoulder inflammation, 60-day), left-hander Keegan Akin (lower back discomfort, 15-day), long reliever Austin Voth (right elbow discomfort, 15-day), lefty Cionel Pérez (forearm soreness) and starting pitcher John Means (Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery recovery, 60-day).

For Tate and Givens, two right-handers expected to be key members of Baltimore’s bullpen, the updates were much the same as they’ve been for weeks. Tate, who has yet to pitch for the Orioles and has struggled mightily during two separate minor league rehabilitation assignments, has been shut down after the second opinion on his elbow.

“They’re just shutting him down a little bit,” Hyde said. “He hasn’t played catch yet, so we’re kind of waiting for things to calm down and then we’ll start playing catch at some point.”

Givens, who is with Tate at the team’s facility in Sarasota, Florida, has begun throwing bullpens again, but Hyde noted he’s “still a ways away,” at least a few weeks. The Orioles signed Givens for $5 million in the offseason, but he’s pitched just four ineffective innings in between IL stints for knee and shoulder injuries. He can’t come off the 60-day IL until July 31.

Akin and Voth, two relievers who can serve as one-inning, two-inning or long relievers, are “progressing,” Hyde said. Akin is playing catch on flat ground, while Voth is throwing bullpens in Sarasota with the hope to begin pitching in games next week.

The best news Hyde provided was on Pérez and Means. Pérez, one of Baltimore’s top relievers last year who has mostly struggled in 2023, is beginning his minor league rehab assignment Saturday with Double-A Bowie. Before he landed in the IL on July 4, it looked as if Pérez was beginning to find his stride without allowing a run in his previous six innings. “He feels really good,” Hyde said.

Means, whose recovery from elbow surgery was stunted in May by a strained muscle in the shoulder blade area, pitched off the mound Friday. “He’s progressing extremely well,” Hyde said.

Around the horn

The Orioles begin the second half with Kremer, Kyle Gibson and Kyle Bradish as their first three starters — a different order than during the first half. Hyde said Tyler Wells wasn’t in the initial grouping to give the MLB-leader in WHIP extra rest. With 104 2/3 innings, Wells has already surpassed his 2022 total. “I think we factor in everything,” Hyde said about his rotation order. “We’re moving Tyler Wells back just because he’s thrown so many innings. We feel comfortable with Dean and Kyle [Gibson], obviously, so they’re gonna get the first couple starts.”
Baltimore entered the second half with 14 position players versus 12 pitchers as opposed to the standard of 13 apiece. The Orioles went to 14 position players in Minnesota last weekend when they activated first baseman Ryan Mountcastle from the IL. How long their bullpen can sustain only having seven members remains to be seen. “Our bullpen’s fresh,” Hyde said. “Right now, we’re just carrying an extra hitter. Hopefully, we can do that for a while, but things change quickly. We’re just taking it day-to-day roster-wise.”
Baseball America updated its top 100 prospect list Friday. Jackson Holliday, who debuted in Double-A on Friday, wasn’t atop the list as he is on MLB Pipeline’s, as Cincinnati Reds star Elly De La Cruz has yet to graduate to hold onto the No. 1 spot. Holliday remained at No. 2 and seven other Orioles prospects made the list: outfielder Colton Cowser (No. 14), right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (No. 15), third baseman Coby Mayo (No. 34), infielder Jordan Westburg (No. 48), catcher Samuel Basallo (No. 61), outfielder-first baseman Heston Kjerstad (No. 68) and infielder Joey Ortiz (No. 79).

This story will be updated.


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