BALTIMORE—Kyle Bradish had a rocky second inning but finished strong in his first major league start. Bradish, recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before Friday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox, allowed three runs, two earned, in the second inning and concluded his six-inning outing by retiring 13 of his last 14 batters, including the final 10.
Unfortunately for Bradish, he didn’t get strong defensive support in the second, and he didn’t get any offensive support as the Orioles’ offense was shut down by the Red Sox until Ryan Mountcastle’s 423-foot home run in the ninth in a 3-1 loss before an announced crowd of 15,685 at Camden Yards. It was the Orioles’ fifth straight loss, but there was a bigger picture on Friday.
Bradish was impressing with a four-pitch mix at Camden Yards and, 35 miles away, left-hander DL Hall was dominant in a four-inning outing for High-A Aberdeen. Hall allowed two hits, struck out six and didn’t allow a walk. It was a night filled with promise.
“It was everything I imagined, and then some,” Bradish said. It was his first time in the ballpark.
“I always get nervous when I start, but today was a little extra,” he said. “Walking in through the bullpen is when it really hit me. I was wandering the halls all day and then went out during [batting practice] to get acclimated to the field.”
Orioles pitching coach Chris Holt called Bradish and asked whether he was ready to start on Friday. “Absolutely,” he said.
Bradish (0-1), struck out his first batter, Trevor Story, but the third strike was a wild pitch, and Story reached first. Alex Verdugo hit into a double play. After Xander Bogaerts walked, Rafael Devers grounded to second to end the first.
To start the second, Kiké Hernández blooped a ball to center on which Orioles centerfielder Cedric Mullins got a late jump and the ball dropped in for a single. With one out, Christian Arroyo homered to center for a 2-0 Boston lead.
Jackie Bradley Jr. singled, and Christian Vazquez hit a liner to right that rightfielder Trey Mancini misplayed, allowing the ball to get past him. The error allowed Bradley to score, giving the Red Sox (9-12) a 3-0 lead.
“It really came down to one or two pitches,” Bradish said. “Other than that, I felt I was controlling the zone. When that happens, you’ve just got to breathe it out. It got away from me a little bit.”
In spring training, Bradish threw four scoreless innings, two against the New York Yankees and two against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“Bigger field, a lot more fans,” Bradish said. “At the end of the game, it’s the same game I’ve been playing.”
In his final 4 1/3 innings, Bradish allowed only a double to Devers. Before the game, Hyde said that if things worked out well, Bradish could finish six innings and throw between 86-90 pitches. He threw 81, allowing five hits on two earned runs, walking one and striking out two.
“It was a lot of fun to watch him pitch,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s obviously got great stuff. Four good pitches. Going six innings in your first start against the Boston Red Sox, giving up two [earned] runs, that’s really impressive.”
Hyde was asked if he sensed Bradish was nervous.
“I don’t know him real well, just from spring training, a couple of conversations,” Hyde said. “He’s got quiet confidence. It just seemed like the moment wasn’t too big for him today … It seemed like it was another start. I’m sure it wasn’t for him on the inside, but he didn’t seem rattled by anything.”
Rich Hill, who pitched for the Orioles 15 years ago, retired the first 12 Orioles. The 42-year-old was removed after Austin Hays singled to start the fifth. Ramón Urías singled against Tanner Houck (2-1), and Tyler Nevin, who, like Bradish, was recalled just before the game, hit into a double play. Robinson Chirinos walked, and Jorge Mateo was called out on strikes.
In the seventh, Mountcastle started the inning with a single. Hays walked, and Urías grounded to third, with the runners moving up. Nevin struck out, and after pinch-hitter Anthony Santander walked, Rougned Odor, who was hitting for Mateo, was called out on strikes.
Mountcastle homered to lead off the ninth against Hansel Robles. If was the first home run over the new left-field wall, which is nearly 30 feet deeper.
Hays, who has six hits in the last two games, singled and moved to second on a balk by Robles. With two out, Matt Strahm walked Santander, and struck out Chris Owings for the save.
Oriole fans are hoping that Bradish is part of the next wave of young players. Catcher Adley Rutschman, who’s also at Aberdeen this week, and top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez could be next, and Hall might not be far behind. Bradish knows what they’re thinking.
“For the fans, definitely,” he said. “For me, personally, it was my debut. I was just thinking about going out there and throwing the ball.”
Minor league update: In his first outing of the season after an elbow injury last year, Hall threw 54 pitches in his four scoreless innings in High-A Aberdeen’s 6-1 win over Jersey Shore.
Rutschman, who caught Hall, was 1-for-2. Designated hitter César Prieto hit his seventh home run, and rightfielder Johnny Rhodes drove in three runs and hit his second home run. Connor Gillispie (2-1) allowed a run on two hits in five innings, striking out seven.
Zac Lowther (0-3) allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Gwinnett, 8-0. Designated hitter Robert Neustrom had two of the Tides’ four hits.
Antonio Velez (1-2) was the loser for Double-A Bowie in its 2-1 loss to Richmond. The Baysox got only four hits. Velez allowed two runs on one hit, a two-run home run to Sean Roby. He walked one and struck out seven in five innings.
Shortstop Darell Hernaiz hit his fifth home run of the year in Low-A Delmarva’s 6-4 loss to Augusta.
Remembering Doc Shorebird: Richard Passwater, or as he was known in Delmarva, Doc Shorebird, died in North Carolina on Thursday at 84. Passwater, who was an expert on nutrition and the author of 45 books on the subject, was a passionate fan of the Shorebirds
For years, Passwater took photos of the Shorebirds and he posted pictures of current players — Austin Hays, Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle and Cedric Mullins in their Delmarva days on his Facebook page.
He went to spring training in Sarasota, where he owned a condominium just a few blocks from Ed Smith Stadium, and took photos next to the dugout and often asked questions of former manager Buck Showalter.
One day, Passwater was admiring the play of a young first baseman, Joe Mahoney. “Great day for the Big Irish?” Passwater asked him. Showalter had no idea who he was talking about, but the “Big Irish” quickly caught on among the Orioles’ beat reporters.
Passwater was once the nutritionist for the NFL team then known as the Washington Redskins, and famously worked for a time with heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali.
He loved to tell stories about the champ. Ali would need money because of a personal issue and he’d keep boxing. “Just one more fight, Doc. I just need another million,” Ali would tell him.
Passwater wasn’t a journalist, but a fan, and a delightful one.