BALTIMORE—It took until the Orioles’ 64th game for Cole Irvin to record his first win with his new team. Irvin, who was sent to Triple-A Norfolk on April 13th after three starts in which he allowed 15 runs and walked eight in 12 2/3 innings, returned from the minor leagues and got that elusive win with lots of help from his defense.
Irvin allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings as the Orioles won their third straight, 6-1 over the Kansas City Royals before an announced crowd of 34,136 at Camden Yards on Saturday.
Two stellar defensive plays in the first two innings saved a possible three runs, and instead of being in a tie game, Irvin had a 3-0 lead after two.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the first, rightfielder Anthony Santander made a leaping catch at the right-field fence of Maikel Garcia’s long drive.
In the second, with a runner on first and two outs, centerfielder Aaron Hicks made a diving catch on Freddy Fermin’s liner, ending the inning.
“That’s how I pitch. I rely on the defense,” Irvin said. “I’ve already talked to Tony. I know there’s a party favor for what he did out there today, put him through a conditioning test. Not my initial plan, but man the defense was great.”
Irvin struck out five without walking a batter, throwing 72 pitches before he was lifted.
“There was a little bit of nerves coming into today,” Irvin said. “I wanted to perform well and pitch and felt like I did that … Small wins, small increments of success. I’ve got to keep building.”
The Orioles (40-24) scored two runs in the first against Kansas City starter Brady Singer (4-5) on Santander’s RBI double and Ryan O’Hearn’s run-scoring single.
Gunnar Henderson, batting in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, had his second straight multi-hit game for the first time this season. Henderson homered with one out in the second. It was his eighth of the season.
“Great swing on the home run, and he’s got a lot of confidence right now,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Irvin (1-3) retired eight straight until Edward Olivares led off the fifth with a double and scored on Fermin’s single for Kansas City (18-46).
In the bottom of the fifth, Austin Hays drove in Santander, who had his second double for a 4-1 lead.
Hyde removed Irvin (1-2) with one out in the sixth after Bobby Witt Jr.’s single.
“Hopefully next time, I get a little further into the ballgame,” Irvin said. “I felt good, but I knew the situation called for a move there, so nothing to complain about. I’m just happy to be in the win column in this uniform, too.”
With Bryan Baker in the game, Witt was thrown out trying to steal and Garcia walked. Michael Massey popped to third to end the sixth.
Austin Voth started the seventh and walked Olivares on 14 pitches and Drew Waters on seven. After getting Fermin looking, Cionel Perez recorded two outs in the seventh and allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth.
Adam Frazier, who made a stellar stop on Nick Pratto to begin the third, hit a two-run home run, his seventh, in the eighth for a 6-1 lead.
“Tony made the big catch in the first. Hicks made a couple of plays that were big,” Frazier said. “We play good defense. That’s the name of the game. It’s going to allow you to win more games if you play good defense. That’s one of our strengths, and we try to stick to that.”
Notes: First baseman Ryan Mountcastle remained out of the lineup for the second straight game because of illness. … Centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who’s on the 10-injured list because of a strained right groin, has begun baseball activities in Sarasota. “It sounds like he’s progressing very well,” Hyde said. … Kyle Gibson (7-3, 3.87) will start for the Orioles against Carlos Hernández (0-3, 4.31) on Sunday. … Santander equaled his season high with three hits. … Shortstop Jordan Westburg hit a two-run home run as Norfolk defeated Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 4-2, in the first game of a doubleheader. Drew Rom (5-4) allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings, striking out eight and walking four. … The Orioles are 16 games over .500 for the second time this season.
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