BALTIMORE—Three weeks ago, Asher Wojciechowski was pitching for the Columbus Clippers, and heard that his parent team, the Cleveland Indians, had traded him to the Orioles.
On Sunday, in his fourth start for the Orioles, Wojciechowski pitched magnificently, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowing just one hit and striking out a career-high 10 batters. He was hotter than the weather in the Orioles’ 5-0 win over former teammate Andrew Cashner and the Boston Red Sox.
Wojciechowski struck out six of his first seven batters until he hit Brock Holt with a pitch. He walked Holt to start the sixth, but Marco Hernandez hit into a double play.
Not until Rafael Devers doubled to right-center, leading off the seventh, did the Red Sox have a hit.
Wojciechowski was well aware that he was pitching a no-hitter.
“It was pretty much the same, the same routine,” he said “Guys would give me high-fives, pat me on the back. I’m sitting in the tunnel underneath, in front of the fan to cool off. So I’m kind of away from the team the entire game anyways.”
Wojciechowski pitched a career-high 7 1/3 innings, equaling the longest start by an Oriole this season.
“It’s opportunity,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s coming here with the right mindset of ‘give me the ball and I want to prove to people what I can do,’ and he’s doing that.”
In 2018, Wojciechowski signed a minor league contract with the Orioles but opted out of his contract with Triple-A Norfolk last July.
“To be honest, I wrote the Orioles off last year when they didn’t give me a chance,” Wojciechowski said. “The last thing I would think is to be back with the Orioles this year. I’m happy for the opportunity. I’m happy to be here, and it was a great team win today.”
Wojciechowski’s performance overshadowed Cashner’s return to Baltimore.
Cashner gave up two home runs to Trey Mancini, a solo shot in the first and a two-run homer in the third. Mancini has 21 home runs this season. He’s exceeded 20 home runs in his first three full seasons in the majors.
Chris Davis’ opposite-field double in the second accounted for the other run against Cashner, who’s 0-2 with the Red Sox.
Jonathan Villar hit his 11th home run against Heath Hembree in the eighth.
The win gave the Orioles their sixth series win this season. Their record is 31-66. They’re playing their best ball of the season, splitting their last 18 games. Last year, they didn’t win their 31st game until their 105th game, so they’re seven games ahead of 2018, when they lost 115 games.
Hyde was impressed the Orioles bounced back after allowing a season-high 17 runs on Saturday night.
“I like the way we play,” Hyde said. “We’re definitely going to make mistakes and we’re short in some areas, but I like the energy we play with. I think we come to play every game.
“I think we have a really good clubhouse. I think guys turn the page over nights like last night. It’s 147 degrees outside and they’re able to suck it up and really play well. That’s not easy to play in that, by the way. That is hot. …We have our moments that aren’t real great, but … I think we play hard, so we give ourselves a chance.”
It was the Orioles’ fourth shutout of the season and their first one-hitter since September 30, 2018, the final game of last season.
Cashner on pitching against the Orioles: Eight days ago, Cashner was traded from the Orioles to Boston, and he didn’t pitch badly in his return.
“I thought I made two mistakes,” he said. “Mancini is a pretty big hitter. He put good swings on those balls.”
Despite losing, he did enjoy pitching against the Orioles.
“It was very hot,” Cashner said. “It’s fun when you battle with those guys all year, so it’s fun facing them.”
Cashner saw Wojciechowski make just one start with the Orioles.
“He had it going on,” Cashner said. “I though he got more calls than I did, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Cashner and Mancini exchanged some trash talk. Mancini wagged a finger at him after the second home run, which he declined to elaborate on.
“We texted after the game a little, so, yeah, we’re good friends,” Mancini said. “It was weird facing him, especially after being his teammate for the last two years. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. Before he left I was in the midst of my slump. He gave me some advice that really helped me out, too.”
Kline here, Broxton gone: The Orioles needed another reliever, and recalled right-hander Branden Kline from Triple-A Norfolk. They designated outfielder Keon Broxton for assignment.
Broxton batted .204 in 37 games with the Orioles. He had four home runs and nine RBIs, but struck out 49 times in 103 at-bats.
“I hate to see Keon go,” Hyde said. “He’s such a weapon defensively and on the bases. I’m sure he’ll get picked up by somebody who needs outfield defense and baserunning for the postseason … It wasn’t happening offensively. I just hope he gets another opportunity and takes advantage of it.”
The Orioles had been going with 12 pitchers and four bench players for most of the last several weeks.
“We needed a reliever here today,” Hyde said. “And we didn’t want to send any of [the other relievers] out right now.”
The Orioles will play five of their next nine games in National League parks, eliminating the designated hitter. Hyde isn’t comfortable with four bench players in Arizona and San Diego.
“You want as many bench guys as you possibly can,” Hyde said. “We’re not there. We can’t do that on the mound. We’re not in a position to be able to be counting our starters going seven innings every time out.”
Anthony Santander and Stevie Wilkerson are likely to play center field.
Kline is 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 appearances. This is his fourth stint with the Orioles this season.
“It’s just opportunity,” Kline said. “As a young player, that’s all you can really ask for. We’re in a good situation where we’re getting the opportunity to showcase what we can do, and obviously if we’re doing well, we’re going to stay up here, but if not we know we need to go down there and work on some things.
“I definitely want to stay here, so I have to make sure I play as best as I can.”
Wilkerson showing his stuff: After throwing one scoreless inning against Tampa Bay on July 12, Wilkerson threw two innings against Boston in Saturday’s night’s 17-6 loss to the Red Sox. He was confident he could give the Orioles the two innings they needed to get through the game when he entered in the eighth.
“It wasn’t like I was out there blowing it out,” Wilkerson said. “I was just floating them. I thought I could have thrown for a while if they needed me to.”
Wilkerson, who has a glove for every position, borrowed a glove to pitch and said he may have to add to his collection if he continues to pitch in relief.