What they're saying about Cole Irvin, Gunnar Henderson and Orioles' 7-0 win over Athletics - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Cole Irvin, Gunnar Henderson and Orioles’ 7-0 win over Athletics

Photo Credit; Gregory Fisher USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? Cole Irvin pitched seven scoreless innings, Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle homered as the Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics, 7-0, for their second shutout of the season.

Both shutouts came in the last two games that Irvin started. He pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Kansas City on April 21st. It’s the first time in his major league career that he’s won two straight starts and his 14 1/3 inning scoreless streak is the longest of his career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“There’s confidence in this clubhouse,” Irvin said. “It’s easy to feed off each other. We’re in a great spot as a club. We’re throwing the ball well. We’re hitting the ball and just doing the little things right.”

The Orioles are 17-9.

“We did a lot of really good things,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “A huge bonus that [Danny] Coulombe, [Yennier] Cano and [Craig] Kimbrel didn’t have to pitch. I will like in every one of our wins, they’re part of it. It’s nice for them to be able to sit down there and watch.”

The Orioles have gone 100 regular-season series without being swept, the fourth longest in baseball history.

“I feel like we’re playing pretty well,” Henderson said. “I feel like there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but at the moment, we’re playing really well.”

Why is Irvin suddenly so effective? After a difficult 2023 season when he started 12 times, relieved 12 times and spent some of the season with Triple-A Norfolk, Irvin has suddenly blossomed.

“The focus on execution, pitch-to-pitch and not getting caught up in results or pitches or shapes or anything, just go out and execute pitches and hopefully results will take care of themselves.”

Irvin’s fourth and final hit allowed was to Brent Rocker, who lined a pitch off Irvin’s left middle finger. He stayed in the game and completed the seventh inning. His recent starts have impressed Hyde.

“I just think pitching to both sides of the plate, a little bit better pitch mix, a little bit more unpredictable with what’s coming,” Hyde said. “The cutter in has been more effective. A better changeup the last two times. Working ahead of hitters and attacking the strike zone.”

Henderson enjoyed Irvin’s tempo.

“That was unreal. How about that?” Henderson said. “That was what you go out there and look forward to. He went out there and excelled. That was awesome.”

What happens next with the starting rotation? Kyle Bradish is expected to make his next start with the Orioles. Since he threw his third rehab assignment for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday night, it’s possible he could start on Wednesday against New York.

John Means will make his final rehab start for Norfolk on Sunday, and it’s possible his first start of the season could come next weekend in Cincinnati.

With Irvin and Albert Suárez pitching well, the Orioles might have a surplus of starters, which is a pleasant problem to have.

“My job has just been to go out and take the ball and get outs, execute pitches and get outs,” Irvin said. “Excited to have them back. Whenever that is, again this is all about trying to execute pitches and keep our team in the game and do the right things by our teammates. Obviously, it’s going to be a huge lift for us when they come back.”

How is Henderson hitting? Henderson has nine home runs, 22 RBIs, a .302 and a 1.003 OPS.

After Oakland starter JP Sears retired the first nine Orioles in order, Henderson singled, stole his sixth base and scored. He hit a two-run home run in the seventh.

“I got settled in a little bit more. I was a little bit jumpy,” Henderson said about his first at-bat, a strikeout. “Trying to go get everything. I felt like as a team, we kind of settled in, took our approaches. Put our bat on the ball.”

Last year, Henderson didn’t hit his ninth home run until June 11th.

“Letting my instincts take over,” Henderson said. “I feel like I’m not trying to do too much. I’m just trying to get out there and put a good swing on the ball and swing at pitches I know I can do damage with.”

Henderson has impressed Irvin.

“We all knew he could hit,” Irvin said. “Gunnar is an unbelievable player. [Rutschman and] Mounty going back-to-back today was awesome. We’ve still got some guys in the lineup that maybe haven’t hit as many as we’re hoping for. They’re going to get [them] soon. This lineup is just ruthless, night-in and night-out and gives teams a tough battle every night.”

What about the Hyde bobblehead: It was Brandon Hyde bobblehead day, and even though it didn’t resemble Hyde, he laughed about the giveaway and said is family was enjoying the attention.

“Getting a lot of requests. I think they’re excited about it,” Hyde said. “My kids are at the teenage-cool age right now … I’m flattered. I know they’re excited to get one today. They’ve seen pictures. My parents are enjoying that I have a bobblehead.”

When it was suggested that Hyde’s bobblehead was better looking, he joked: ‘I don’t think it took much. How do I answer that?”

How about honoring Henneman? The Orioles dedicated the Press Box to longtime Baltimore sportswriter Jim Henneman, who’s 88 and still writes about baseball for Press Box.  Henneman threw out the first pitch to head athletic trainer Brian Ebel.

What’s the word? “X-Ray machine was fun today. Being able to use the [middle] finger. That was fun. That was different.”-Irvin on getting his middle finger examined after getting hit by a batted ball.

What does it mean? Having an effective Irvin and Suárez, the return of Bradish and Means and season-long starters Corbin Burnes, Dean Kremer and Grayson Rodriguez gives the Orioles potential depth and interesting decisions this week. Only Kremer, Rodriguez, Keegan Akin, Yennier Cano and Dillon Tate have options left.

What’s the stat of the day? At two hours, 10 minutes, it was the shortest game of the season.

What’s next? Albert Suárez (1-0, 0.00) will face Paul Blackburn (2-1, 2.03) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m.

Transaction: Catcher David Bañuelos cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk.

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

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