What they're saying about Craig Kimbrel and Orioles' 3-2 loss to Athletics - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Craig Kimbrel and Orioles’ 3-2 loss to Athletics

Photo Credit: Reggis Hildred USA TODAY Sports


BALTIMORE—What happened? Craig Kimbrel came into the ninth looking for his 425th save. That would have passed John Franco and tied him with Boston’s Kanley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time saves list. ‘

Instead, Kimbrel allowed the tying run to score and was fortunate enough to scramble to home plate to tag JJ Bleday on a wide pitch that got away from catcher Adley Rutschman. Rutschman quickly retrieved the ball and threw home to Kimbrel, who tagged Bleday, a call that was reversed after Bleday was originally called safe.

Kimbrel walked the bases loaded, and Keegan Akin retired two batters he faced to keep the game tied at 2 heading to the bottom of the ninth.

“It was just an off night. He didn’t have his best command,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Those are going to happen.”

Jacob Webb allowed a run to score in the top of the 10th, and the Orioles were shut down by Oakland’s Mason Miller, who recorded his seventh save in the bottom of the 10th in a 3-2 Orioles loss.

What was happening with Kimbrel? Kimbrel entered the game with an 0.82 earned-run average. He allowed a run to Kansas City in the top of the ninth in a game the Orioles won in the  bottom of the ninth on April 1st. On Wednesday, he allowed an unearned run against Los Angeles. He had three wins and seven saves.

“Three walks in an inning. That means your command is off,” Kimbrel said. “After such a well-pitched game from the whole team, it’s not a very pretty inning. I expect better out of myself. Tonight wasn’t my night.”

Kimbrel allowed two doubles and three walks, and his only out was on the pitch that got away.

“There are nights when you don’t have your best stuff and you can work through it,” Kimbrel said. “It doesn’t matter if I have my best stuff out there or if I don’t have it. I’ve got to figure out a way to make it through. Tonight, I just wasn’t able to make the pitches when I needed to. I had opportunities. I just didn’t make the pitches. They put good swings on them and put them in play. When I needed to make a pitch, I didn’t do it.”

Kimbrel didn’t get a loss, but he felt responsible for his team’s loss.

“This game is really on me. Everybody did everything they needed to for us to get a win except for me, locking it down. We’ll just have to put it behind us and come out tomorrow and try to get another ‘w.’”

Did Burnes pitch well enough to win? Corbin Burnes allowed one run on three hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three. He has a 2.55 ERA in six starts.

Shea Langeliers who scored the winning run in the 10th on Brent Rocker’s double, homered in the first. Burnes has allowed five home runs, four in the first.

“A non-executed pitch there,” Burnes said. “It was the kind of night where we had to grind through and battle through not having our best stuff. You have to first be able to miss enough bats to get enough weak contact and get through six there and give us a chance to win.”

Burnes has three wins and three no-decisions in his six starts.

“I’m happy with how I’ve grinded through it and got through a good month now to try to figure things out,” Burnes said. “I’ve had one game where stuff has been where I’ve wanted it to be. That’s obviously a little frustrating. Six starts in, only having your best stuff one time, but the good part is we’ve grinded through it and we’ve given ourselves a chance to win every time out there.

“Just have to keep after it and know that it’s going to turn and good things are going to happen and we’re going to throw the baseball the way we want. In the meantime, you just have to grind through it.”

What was wrong with the offense? The Orioles scored two runs on six hits against Oakland starter Ross Stripling in 5 2/3 innings and were hitless in the final 4 1/3.

Mitch Spence pitched three hitless innings for the win, and hot Athletics rookie Mason Miller got the save. He struck out Colton Cowser for the first out and Gunnar Henderson for the third. Miller has 25 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.

“You’ve got to give credit to their pitchers,” Hyde said. “Spence comes in, and we did nothing off him and then Mason Miller is throwing 103 with a slider. We just had a tough night at the plate.”

What did Elias say about Jackson Holliday’s demotion? Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said he grappled with the decision to option 20-year-old Jackson Holliday to Triple-A Norfolk

“None of this is ideal,” he said. “I’m ultimately responsible for how these things go but once the evaluation was made by my staff and me that it was better if he was back in Triple-A, resetting and making some small adjustments … we didn’t see any benefit in waiting any longer other than doing it for the sake of it. That didn’t seem like a good reason to me. We want him to go play at the level that would be most beneficial for his development right now, and that’s Triple-A, and we’ll see what the future brings.

“This jump is big. It’s unpredictable. It’s different for every guy. The bottom line is that Jackson is way ahead of the curve. He’s doing everything we asked him to. We’re the ones that have put him in different spots this year, and we try and make the best positions we possibly can on that front and it’s not always easy, and this was a very unique case.”

What does Hyde think about Holliday? Hyde believes Holliday will benefit from time back in Norfolk.

“We felt like it was important for him to just go play,” Hyde said. “It’s not easy here, and what he’s done up to this point in his short, short career, the start of his career, has been unbelievable. It’s not easy, just not easy here. We want to take some weight off his shoulders and just go play. Keep doing what he’s been doing.

“As you can see from the couple of times we’ve sent some guys down since I’ve been here, some prospects down, they’ve really benefited from it, just the experience up here, the speed of the game, how tough it is, the adjustments that need to be made. That’s the same thing in Jackson’s case. Jackson’s going to be up here soon. He has a really, really long career ahead of him, a great career ahead of him.”

What happens when John Means returns? Starting pitch John Means will make his final rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday. Means is on the 15-day injured list a left forearm strain. Reliever Cionel Pérez will remain with the Tides this weekend as his rehab assignment continues. He’s on the injured list with a strained right oblique.

“A decision on having too much pitching? I’ll take that,” Elias said. “We’re planning for it. We’ve got a trajectory of what things will look like when these guys get back. The reality is other players are apt to get hurt and so we’ll deal with it on a day-to-day basis. No decisions have been made about roles or things like that on the pitching staff.

“Obviously, we’re having planning discussions around different scenarios. We’re excited to get John back. Hopefully, Kyle Bradish and Cionel Pérez. All three of them will be welcomed with open arms and we can figure out ways to have more good pitchers to help out on this pitching staff, that’s for sure.”

What does Ryan McKenna think about being back? Outfielder Ryan McKenna is taking the place of Holliday on the roster. Elias said he’s there to help out with outfielder with Austin Hays on the injured list with a left calf strain.

McKenna’s contract was selected from Norfolk because he was outrighted after he passed through waivers.

“The business side of this game is hard,” McKenna said. “Obviously, if there was an opportunity in the big leagues, I would have been excited with it. You’ve got to roll with the punches and see where they fall. “I’m excited to be here. The Orioles have been very good to me in a lot of ways. Definitely excited to be in this organization.”

McKenna has begun working out at second base in case there’s a need.

What’s the word? “This game up here, people attack your weaknesses until you stop showing them to be weaknesses and he knows what that attack looks like right now, and hopefully he’ll be able to concentrate his work on those areas.”-Elias on Jackson Holliday’s first stint with the Orioles

What does it mean? Kimbrel had been outstanding, but he had his first bad outing of the season, and the Orioles didn’t support Burnes with nearly enough offense. Oakland looks like a much better team than the one that lost 112 games in 2023.

Stat of the day: 3. Kimbrel has walked batters in three straight games after not walking any in his first nine games. He walked three batters in the ninth.

Transaction: To make room for McKenna on the 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher David Bañuelos for assignment.

What’s next? Cole Irvin (1-1, 4.64) will facesJP Sears (1-1, 3.38) on Saturday at 4;05 p.m.

Call for questions: Each weekday, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles’ question. Please send yours to: [email protected]



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