Bullpen dominates as Orioles win 4th straight, 2-0 over Mets - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Bullpen dominates as Orioles win 4th straight, 2-0 over Mets

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE—It was the bullpen’s day to shine for the Orioles. Starting pitcher Kyle Bradish was pulled after a sloppy 4 2/3 innings, and Cionel Pérez, Cole Irvin, Shintaro Fujinami and Félix Bautista combined for 4 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings as the Orioles completed a sweep of the New York Mets, 2-0, before an announced crowd of 27,100 at Oriole Park on Sunday.

The Orioles (70-42) have won four straight and seven of eight. They recorded their sixth shutout and seventh three-game sweep and maintained a three-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.

Bradish allowed three singles, walked five and hit a batter. Pete Alonso ended both the first and third by grounding into double plays.

After Bradish got the first two outs to start the fifth, he loaded the bases on a walk to Jeff McNeil, a single by Francisco Lindor and a walk to Alonso.

“That was probably the worst command outing I’ve had this year,” Bradish said. “I was able to make pitches when I needed to, 4 2/3 scoreless gave the team a chance to win. I’ll take it.”

Pérez (4-1) replaced Bradish, and the left-hander retired the left-handed hitting DJ Stewart to end the inning. “Biggest out of the game,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

Pérez also recorded a scoreless sixth.

“The bullpen, they’ve been doing it last year. They’ve been doing it this year,” Bradish said. “Any time I hand the ball off with runners on, I feel confident.”

Pérez, who was on the injured list over the All-Star break with left forearm soreness, has thrown four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in his last three outings.

“It means a lot to me. It gives me a lot of confidence,” Pérez said through a translator. “It was a tight situation there, but we keep working.”

Jorge Mateo, starting his first game in center field since coming to the Orioles in August 2021, tripled with one out in the fifth against José Quintana (0-3). His sinking line drove eluded centerfielder Rafael Ortega, and after Adley Rutschman’s sharp grounder to third was initially mishandled by Mark Vientos, Mateo scored when Vientos threw to first.

Mateo didn’t have a ball hit to him in center but since he’s no longer regularly playing shortstop, his ability to play the outfield is a plus.

“It creates flexibility and versatility with our roster,” Hyde said before the game. “When he gets on base, he scores. He’s a major, major factor for the other team because of his speed. I hope he can get going … Every team that’s looking to make postseason pushes is looking for speed.”

Mateo feels comfortable in center. “I think the most important thing is to always be on the field,” he said through a translator. “Regardless of where that is. As long as you’re on the field, that’s what counts.”

Irvin got the Orioles’ first 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.

The Orioles scored a second run in the seventh when James McCann doubled, Ryan McKenna singled and, after Trevor Gott replaced Quintana, Ryan O’Hearn’s bouncer hit off Gott’s glove and found its way to second baseman Denny Mendick’s glove. Mendick hesitated and lost any chance for a double play or a throw to home when he belatedly tossed the ball to short, and McCann scored with the second run.

Fujinami retired the side in the eighth, throwing nine pitches, all strikes, with one recorded at 103 mph.

‘That was the best stuff we’ve seen from Fuji,” Hyde said. “Fantastic, dominating stuff.”

Bautista pitched in his first game since Monday’s 4-2 win at Toronto and allowed a leadoff double to Vientos before retiring three straight for his 30th save.

Hyde wasn’t going to pitch Yennier Cano or Danny Coulombe, who pitched on Saturday.

“I was going to give them two days off,” Hyde said. “When you do that, all of a sudden different people are pitching in different spots.”

The bullpen has changed from the beginning of the season.

“It’s going to take all those guys down there the rest of the way,” Hyde said. “I was hoping to be in the spot we were where other guys could step up in big spots, and that happened today. We’re going to need Cionel Pérez. We’ need Fuji and Cole Irvin was outstanding.”

“I think it’s a special group, as we’ve shown,” Pérez said. “It’s a really unique group, and we have tons of fun back there. It’s always a great environment, and we make sure we have fun when we’re together.”

Hyde has often talked about the good problem he has with position players and not enough playing time for them. He could be facing a similar problem with relievers.

Keegan Akin, Mychal Givens and Austin Voth, who have major league resumes, are on rehab assignments. Voth, who’s on the 15-day injured list with right elbow discomfort, was scheduled to follow Bruce Zimmermann’s planned short start at Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday.

“I’m not worried about that at all,” Hyde said. “You can never have enough really good relievers. Things can happen on a nightly basis. Depth is going to be big time important in the next 50 games.”

Notes: Outfielder Austin Hays didn’t play for the second straight game. “He’s made a lot of diving catches on turf, on dirt,” Hyde said. “He’s just a little sore.” … Hyde said he’d prefer to restrict Bautista’s use if possible. “I’d like to just use him in a save situation. I’d like to just use him in the ninth inning. However, sometimes there are circumstances which I have gone away from that,” he said. “I’d like to keep all those guys as rested as possible. There’s such a long way to go, still. We’re going to play a lot of close games the rest of the way, I know that.” … After Monday’s offday, Grayson Rodriguez (2-3, 6.09) will pitch against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night. Houston hasn’t named its starter. … Rightfielder John Rhodes and shortstop Jackson Holliday homered in Double-A Bowie’s 11-2 loss to Portland. … Hickory beat High-A Aberdeen, 7-1.

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