BALTIMORE—By the time Branden Kline sprinted in from the bullpen, many of the announced crowd of 28,409 who came for the Orioles’ Saturday doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins had departed.
Kline’s friends and family, who’d come from Frederick, cheered from the seats behind home plate.
Kline was officially added for the second game of the doubleheader as the 26th man.
After Friday’s game was rained out, Kline found out that he was coming to the major leagues for the first time, and that his years of struggles in the minor leagues had ended—at least for a night.
Kline, who had been drafted by the Orioles in the second round of the 2012 draft, had lost years to injuries, and at 27, was finally making his major league debut.
Before this season, Kline, who didn’t pitch at all in 2016 and 2017 because of Tommy John surgery, hadn’t even pitched at Triple-A. His manager at Norfolk, Gary Kendall, summoned him to his office and delivered the news.
“Right away I was really excited, and the emotions started to hit me, just thinking about the journey it’s taken to get me here to this point,” Kline said. “Then, remembering the team is in Baltimore, and I grew up 45 minutes away from here. It’s definitely special.
“I had to keep it a secret for about two or three hours. I wanted to tell my wife, who was in Norfolk with me, face-to-face instead of on the phone.”
The couple’s daughter was sleeping, so Kline’s wife couldn’t meet him at Harbor Park. Like the Orioles game, the Tides’ game was rained out, and Kline went home to share the news.
“Then I called my mom, called my dad, called her family,” Kline said. “For the most part, it was about keeping everything hush-hush, and getting here as quickly as possible.”
It took Kline seven years to reach the majors, and he got emotional.
“I cried for a solid thirty minutes after I got the news,” Kline said. “It was honestly excitement. But at the same time, it was about the journey to get here. One injury after another, after another. I let my emotions kind of go.
“As guys were congratulating me, other things would pop up. The fact that I grew up 45 minutes away. The fact that I went to these games as a little kid. And that I’d potentially have the chance to go out there on the same field I watched a lot of guys from the seats.
“A lot of emotions came out over the first 30 minutes. Then when I told my wife, I cried some more. She cried some, too. So, I’m a little bit of a softie. Everything is good now. I’m here to help this team in any way I possibly can, and we’ll go from there.”
Kline pitched a perfect seventh, but allowed home runs to Jonathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz in the eighth.
“These guys hit fastballs a long way,” Kline said.
“It was a great moment for myself, my family and my friends. A lot of hard work went into tonight, even though it was just two innings and maybe 30 pitches, that was about 25 years of work that went into that.”
Manager Brandon Hyde was impressed with Kline. Even though he was returned to Norfolk after the game, Hyde hopes that there will be more opportunities to see him later this year.
“We should see him again at some point,” Hyde said.
Davis to the mound: The last time Chris Davis pitched, it was in the 16th and 17th innings of a game the Orioles badly wanted to win in Boston on May 6, 2012, and he won the game with two scoreless innings.
To prevent more wear on his bullpen, Hyde pulled Davis out of the dugout to pitch the ninth inning of the Orioles’ 16-7 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Davis gave up a home run to Schoop — the Twins’ eighth and Schoop’s second– and got through the inning, recording one strikeout.
Hyde was reluctant about using Davis, who had missed time this week because of illness.
“He volunteered to go in the game, which I thought was incredibly professional,” Hyde said. “I didn’t want to do that, though, and then the pitching thing came up, so I re-approached him about that. So, yeah, he took the ball.”
Cobb’s bad night: Alex Cobb returned from the injured list and tied his career high by allowing nine runs in 2 2/3 innings. Cobb allowed three home runs, a two-run shot to Cruz, a solo home run by C.J. Cron, both in the first, and a two-run blast by Eddie Rosario.
Rosario had three home runs in the doubleheader and has five in the last three games and nine this season.
Mike Wright allowed a three-run home run by Schoop in the fourth to put Minnesota ahead, 13-0.
The Orioles allowed 11 home runs in the doubleheader and given up 57 homers in their first 22 games.
“I’ve never seen home runs given up like we do, and it’s something we just obviously have to improve on,” Hyde said.
Cobb said his back, which sent him to the injured list, didn’t bother him.
“It was a tough day,” Cobb said. “I really didn’t have much feel out there. It’s been a long time away from the mound, but at the end of the day, you’ve got find a way to get some outs there. Especially on a doubleheader day it’s tougher because you’re churning in the bullpen, and you’ve got the quick turnaround day game tomorrow, so I’ve would have liked to have gotten more outs for the guys tonight.”
Cobb thinks there could be more to the home runs than just bad pitching.
“We’ve been giving up too many home runs as a staff, and I don’t want to get too much into it, but the baseballs are just absolutely ridiculous,” Cobb said.
“The home run rate that’s happening this year in baseball, I think is ready to outdo easily what it did last year. We’ve had some questions about these baseballs for a long time. It’s seems like MLB is kind of doubling down on that. They’re flying, no doubt. It doesn’t matter. We’re going to have to figure out a way to get the ball on the ground and get outs.
“You see popups leaving the field right now. It’s tough to wrap your mind around it. The ball’s the same for every team out there. I’d like to go ahead and find a way to slow that rate down because it seems like every game is a home run derby right now for us.”
The eight home runs allowed by the Orioles were the most given up since September 4, 1987 when they gave up 10 in Toronto.