What they're saying about Craig Kimbrel's injury and blown save in Orioles' 7-6 loss to A's - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Craig Kimbrel’s injury and blown save in Orioles’ 7-6 loss to A’s

BALTIMORE—What happened? Craig Kimbrel left Sunday’s game with an upper back injury after surrendering a two-run home run to Kyle McCann in the ninth inning in the Orioles’ 7-6 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

Kimbrel had blown a save in Friday’s 3-2 Orioles’ loss to Oakland in 10 innings, allowing three walks and failing to retire any of the five batters he faced. He entered Sunday’s game with a 6-5 lead and walked Darrel Hernaiz before McCann homered, giving him two blown saves in three days, both resulting in Oriole losses.

Manager Brandon Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel went to the mound after Kimbrel threw a ball to Lawrence Butler, the second time they’d gone to check on the closer.

“He’s in the training room now,” Hyde said after the deflating loss. “He’s just got some upper back tightness. He’s being evaluated right now.”

After the first visit, Hyde watched Kimbrel throw a pitch and thought he was fine to continue.

“He threw a pitch, and it looked good, and it felt right,” Hyde said. “Kind of just trust the player at that point. He says he’s good to go.

“The way he was walking around, he just didn’t look right. We wanted to make sure he’s OK.”

Kimbrel, who will turn 36 next month, was signed in December to replace Félix Bautista, who won the 2023 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year award but will miss 2024 because of Tommy John surgery.

Kimbrel had been effective until his last two outings, when he couldn’t throw strikes. If he misses a significant amount of time, the Orioles will be faced with a difficult problem. The timing isn’t good with the Yankees coming to town for a four-game series.

“It’s part of the game,” Hyde said. “Other guys are going to have to step up. We need to pitch well out of the bullpen. Just ‘next guy up’ type of mentality. I don’t how long, what the timetable is with Craig, if any at all. We’ll see. I think we’ve been playing pretty good baseball. A couple of unfortunate endings this series. We had a chance to win all three games, and we move on to tomorrow.”

The Orioles expect Kyle Bradish and John Means, who pitched  well in his final rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk, to return this week. If Kimbrel goes on the injured list, perhaps one or two of the current starters shift to the bullpen.

What did Rutschman see? Kimbrel’s catcher, Adley Rutschman, said he didn’t see much different in the closer’s delivery on Sunday.

“He obviously has a lot of experience, and I trust him,” Rutschman said. “I know that he knows his body better than anyone else. Just trying to make adjustments on the fly as we go, wanted to make sure we’re on the same page with targeting.”

Rutschman was also catching Kimbrel on Friday.

“Craig’s a phenomenal pitcher, obviously,” Rutschman said. “ He’s going to bounce back. We’ve got no worries.

“We trust our pitching staff. There’s going to be ups and downs. I don’t think anyone’s worried.”

What’s happening with the Orioles’ offense? The six runs were the most runs the Orioles scored in a loss this season.

Rutschman hit a home run for the second time in two games. Both Rutschman and Mountcastle, who hit back-to-back homers on Saturday, homered in the third inning.

Third baseman Ramón Urías homered for the first time since July 9th, 2023.

The Orioles’ 44 home runs are the most in the majors and the most in 27 games in team history.

What happened to Albert Suárez? After two scoreless starts of 5 2/3 innings, Suárez gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings, equaling the Orioles’ shortest start of the season. He struck out six and walked one.

“I wasn’t executing the way I was supposed to,” Suárez said. “I threw a lot of pitches to hitters that cost me not going longer in the game.”

“He was a little bit off today,” Hyde said. “He was good in the first. The stuff was still good. He missed up a little bit more than normal. I didn’t think he had his best command today. I thought we did a pretty good job out of the ‘pen there until the end … and had a chance to win.”

What happened in the minor leagues? Means threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in Norfolk’s 2-0 win over Gwinnett. Third baseman Coby Mayo and catcher Maverick Handley homered. Jackson Holliday was 1-for-4 in his second game with Norfolk after being demoted by the Orioles on Friday.

First baseman Samuel Basallo homered twice and drove in three runs as Double-A Bowie beat Richmond, 4-2.

Seth Johnson started and allowed two runs on three hits in four innings, striking out six and walking one. Carlos Tavera allowed one hit in five scoreless inning, striking out six.

Centerfielder Scott Etzel homered and drove in three runs as High-A Aberdeen defeated Jersey Shore, 7-6.

Infielder Anderson De Los Santos had three hits in Single-A Delmarva’s 6-4 loss to Fredericksburg in 13 innings. The Shorebirds are 3-17.

The minor leagues are off on Monday.

What about Henderson’s defense? Gunnar Henderson’s shortstop play has impressed the Orioles.

“The two months he played consecutively at short last year at the end of the year, I don’t know the numbers for sure, but he’s at the very top of [Defensive Runs Saved}, which is probably my favorite metric to look at,” third base and infield coach Tony Mansolino said.

“I think that painted a clear picture of his work over there, but also the eye test was really clean last year. Fast forward to this year, he’s been great. I think you can credit him with three mistakes to this point.

“He’s making the routine play. He’s making the great play right. He’s making it left. He’s a great relay guy. He can go get a popup. Really the whole skill set is there to be an everyday shortstop, and be one of the better ones in the major leagues.”

How was Holliday’s defense? Despite struggling at the plate in his 10 games with the Orioles, Jackson Holliday’s defense at second base was just fine, Mansolino said.

“It’s really crazy that we have two young players here in Gunnar and Jackson, two middle infielders, that we’ve seen come up and struggle a little bit offensively at different times when they’ve entered the big leagues and play so well defensively,” Mansolino said. “It’s really wild they’re able to separate at such a young age.”

What’s the word? “We want the guy here that makes the routine play every single day. We don’t want the guy that makes lateral plays but throws up 20, 25 errors in a season. We’ll take a guy that maybe has a little bit less range but has a single-digit error total.”-Mansolino on what the Orioles are looking for in an infielder.

What does it mean? If Kimbrel goes to the 15-day injured list, the Orioles could bring back Cionel Pérez, who threw two innings at Norfolk on Thursday and Saturday in rehab appearances. Pérez strained his right oblique muscle on March 30th, the second game of the season.

What was the stat of the day: 1. Infielder Jordan Westburg, who didn’t play Sunday because of a stomach virus. has made just one error in 260 chances in his major league career; t came on August 15th, 2023 at San Diego.

“It’s a really boring infielder, and I say that with all the respect in the world,” Mansolino said. “He can make a flashy play, but he’s so steady. He makes everything look really easy and really simple.”

What’s next? Grayson Rodriguez (3-1, 4.45) will face Clarke Schmidt (2-0, 3.55) when the Orioles open a four-game series with the New York Yankees on Monday night at 6:35. The Yankees lead the Orioles by a game in the American League East.

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

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