What they're saying about Cole Irvin, early fireworks and Orioles' 3-0 win over Reds - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Cole Irvin, early fireworks and Orioles’ 3-0 win over Reds

Photo Credit: Phil Didion/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

CINCINNATI—What happened? Cole Irvin ran his scoreless streak to 20 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits in 6 1/3 innings to lead the Orioles past the Cincinnati Reds, 3-0, on Friday night.

It was the fourth win in the last five games for the Orioles, who at 21-11 are 10 games over .500 for the first time this season.

Irvin struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe and Craig Kimbrel combined to retire the final eight batters.

“What he’s doing now is commanding his pitches,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Throwing a ton of strikes.”

The Orioles scored three runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Adley Rutschman and a two-run home run by Ryan O’Hearn.

Is Irvin in a zone? In Irvin’s three most recent starts, he’s allowed 10 hits in 20 scoreless innings. The last time he allowed runs came on April 15th against Minnesota.

“I think he’s pitching with a ton of confidence right now,” Hyde said. “If that’s what being in a zone is, I think that’s close to it. It’s confident in what he’s throwing, pitching with a ton of conviction and getting a lot of groundballs, and we’re playing excellent defense, everywhere, but great on the left side of the infield tonight.”

“I’ve gotten into some processes lately that I didn’t have before,” Irvin said. ”Working with a mental skills coach and doing a number of other things. It’s really kept my process easy and simple. Just singular focus on one word every time that I’m getting a pitch called. Just trying to be as consistent as I can and executing every pitch.”

How was that fireworks show? Because the scheduled 6:10 p.m. start was delayed by two hours, 41 minutes by rain, fans at Great American Ballpark were treated to pregame fireworks. Local ordinances prohibit late-night fireworks.

“Pregame was different, obviously. I felt like I was in ‘The Sandlot” warming up,” Irvin said. “Childlike things that you never thought you’d experience at the big league level.

“it felt like it was a sandlot game, Fourth of July, fireworks going off, loud music, couldn’t hear anything with how loud the music was, but it was awesome, it’s was great.”

Pitchers have lengthy pregame rituals and position players have their stretching routines.

“When we got out there and stretching and the fireworks show was going on, that’s a first for me,” O’Hearn said. “For the grand finale to be right before the game started, it’s pretty cool.”

“That’s my first one while we’re warming up that the fans are into a fireworks show,” Hyde said. “I kind of liked that. Let’s do it tomorrow. Maybe it helped us out. Actually, we didn’t score much early. It helped out Irvin and our defense. Offensively, I think we were still starstruck by the fireworks.”

How fast is De La Cruz? Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz thought he’d stolen second base in the first, but Spencer Steer interfered with Rutschman’s throw and De La Cruz was sent back to first. On the next pitch, De La Cruz stole second again. He’s stolen 19 of 22 bases in 32 games.

“I don’t know what tool he doesn’t have,” Hyde said before the game. “There’s a lot to like, an 80 runner, an 80 arm, throw the ball 100 miles an hour across the field, the fastest guy in the league. There’s not many guys like that.”

De La Cruz had both hits against Irvin, with his first-inning single and a seventh-inning double.

How did Cowser feel about his award? Gunnar Henderson was the  American League Player of the Month and Colton Cowser was the AL Rookie of the Month.

“I’m surprised a little bit because I didn’t know my role coming into the year,” Cowser said. “Having myself staying ready at all times has allowed me to have some success and continue to carry that process and mentality throughout the year.

“Everyone’s got their own things going on so I’m just keeping my head down and continuing to work, work through whatever struggles or adjustments are required throughout this whole year.”

Cowser didn’t play in Friday night’s game. He’s hitless in his last eight at-bats.

“I’ve been struggling the past week-and-a-half or so,” he said. “Continuing with the same process and maintaining the same confidence throughout the year is important.”

What’s the word? “I’m just blessed to be in the major leagues and wear the uniform and enjoy every bit of it. While I’m playing, I’m going to have a blast.”­Irvin on having fun

What does it mean? Irvin’s start was sandwiched between Kyle Bradish’s and John Means’ first starts of the season after his time on the injured list. Getting into the seventh with no damage was huge for the Orioles.

When’s Austin Hays going to play? Austin Hays, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a strained left calf muscle, is working out with Bowie this weekend and should play in minor league rehab games next week, Hyde said.

What’s the stat of the day? Kimbrel’s save was the 425th of his career, tying him with Boston’s Kenley Jansen for fifth place on the all-time saves list. It was his first appearance since blowing two save chances and leaving Sunday’s game with upper back tightness. He struck out the side, showing no ill effects from last weekend.

What’s next? John Means will make his first start of 2024 against Andrew Abbott (1-3, 3.27) at 6:40 p.m. He’s the second starter in three games to pitch for the first time in 2024. Kyle Bradish allowed a run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings on Thursday.

“First time out after being out for a while, you don’t know what to expect,” Hyde said. “I’m hoping he goes out and feels good for as long as he can go. We’ll see what his stuff looks like. We’ll see how his stuff plays. When you haven’t been on a mound for a while and facing a big league lineup, it’s a bit unknown. Kyle really responded and was incredible. Hopefully, Means will do the same thing.”

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

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