When the Orioles called up DL Hall to serve as the 27th man for Saturday’s doubleheader in Detroit, there was the thought that Hall could serve as the piggyback starter to Grayson Rodriguez in the day’s second game.
Instead, Hall pitched in relief in the Orioles’ 7-4 loss to the Tigers, and Rodriguez was dominant in the second game of the split doubleheader.
In his fifth major league start, Rodriguez (1-0) was superb, allowing just two hits and a walk and striking out nine in five scoreless innings as the Orioles beat Detroit, 6-4.
Rodriguez allowed a leadoff double to Zach McKinstry, then retired 14 straight hitters before Miguel Cabrera singled with two outs in the fifth. Matt Vierling walked, and Andy Ibanez struck out.
Manager Brandon Hyde is being conservative with Rodriguez’s innings. He threw 91 pitches and could have gone into the sixth, but with the Orioles hoping their quick 18-9 start has them on a path to the postseason, another few batters from Rodriguez wasn’t in Hyde’s plans.
It was the type of performance that the Orioles have been waiting for. In four of his five starts, Rodriguez has worked precisely five innings. His pitch counts have ranged from 83 to 99. The nine strikeouts were a career high, and the lone walk equaled a career low.
Rodriguez is now firmly entrenched in the Orioles’ rotation, and fans can be excited about his promise.
Hall was a logical choice for the 27th man. Instead of calling up another competent short reliever with major league experience — Logan Gillaspie, Joey Krehbiel or Nick Vespi, who could add to bullpen depth for the day — Hall could give them multiple innings.
In relief of an ineffective Dean Kremer (2-1), Hall needed 75 pitches to get through three innings. He allowed two runs on five hits, struck out seven and walked one.
Hall still needs some time to prove that he can give the Orioles the type of performance that Rodriguez did.
In his four starts for Triple-A Norfolk, Hall has gone five innings only once. On April 21st, he allowed two runs on five hits in five innings, walking two and striking out five.
He heads back to Norfolk and fortunately for the Orioles, their pitching depth allows him the time to improve.
If the team decides it needs another starter, Cole Irvin, who allowed one run on seven hits for Norfolk on Saturday night, is the most obvious option.
Kremer has now had two starts after throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Washington on April 18th. He gave up five runs on 11 hits in five innings in Saturday’s first game and his ERA rose to 6.67. On Monday, he allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against Boston.
Akin’s rough inning: Keegan Akin didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced when he relieved Rodriguez in the sixth. Jorge Mateo’s error led to a run, and after Akin was relieved, Mike Baumann gave up a three-run home run to former Oriole Tyler Nevin to narrow the Orioles’ lead to 6-4.
Akin was charged with three runs, two earned, and his ERA rose to 8.10.
Bryan Baker, Danny Coulombe, Yennier Cano and Félix Bautista combined for three one-hit innings.
Cano has not allowed a hit while recording 28 outs. He has hit one batter, and Bautista rebounded from his shaky ninth inning on Thursday with a clean inning, retiring Detroit in the ninth on 10 pitches. Cano needed just six pitches to work the eighth.
Terrific April: After winning their opener on March 31st, the Orioles are 17-9. They were 17-10 last August, their winningest month since June 2016 when they were 19-9.
The Orioles are nine games over .500. Last season, they were 10 games over .500 on September 3rd.
Hot Orioles: Austin Hays returned from missing two games with a bruised right hand and had two hits in each game, raising his average to .319. He left Tuesday’s game after four innings.
Ryan McKenna hit a two-run home run and drove in three runs for the first time in his career. McKenna had three RBIs in his first 17 games.
Thwarted by Rodriguez: Eduardo Rodriguez, who retired the first 20 Orioles to face him last Sunday, recorded his 14th win against the Orioles. The 14 wins lead all active pitchers, and he won his 11th consecutive decision against them, tying him with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who has won 11 straight decisions against the New York Mets.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB