What they're saying about Craig Kimbrel's struggles and Orioles' wild 7-6 win over Nationals - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Craig Kimbrel’s struggles and Orioles’ wild 7-6 win over Nationals

Photo Credit: Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

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WASHINGTON—What happened? Orioles closer Craig Kimbrel had a two-run lead to work with in the ninth. After he got two outs, the Washington Nationals scored two runs to tie the game, 3-3. The Orioles scored two runs in the 11th, and the Nationals tied it again at 5. In the 12th, the Orioles scored two runs and held Washington to one in the bottom of the inning to emerge with a wacky 7-6 win.

Gunnar Henderson, Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle homered. Mountcastle’s two-run home run, against former teammate Hunter Harvey, gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead in the 11th.

Jorge Mateo’s RBI single scored Jordan Westburg in the 12th. Two errors and a wild pitch enabled Mateo to score. Jacob Webb allowed a run in the 12th but retired his final three batters.

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“It was super special because we were able to win the game finally,” Mateo said through a translator. “We scored and they scored. We kept fighting. It was a really hard-fought game.”

Manager Brandon Hyde was satisfied to come out of a difficult game with a win.

“I’m not sure how I’m feeling right now. I’m happy that we won, but that was quite a game,” Hyde said. “There was a lot of stuff that happened there the last four, five innings … A lot to unpack there, but I’m definitely relieved we won the game.”

What was wrong with Craig Kimbrel? In Kimbrel’s last five games, the Oriole closer has converted only one save opportunity. Eddie Rosario homered with two outs in the ninth, and he walked Trey Lipscomb and Jacob Young before Hyde removed him. Lipscomb scored on CJ Abrams’ single against Keegan Akin.

Kimbrel was signed to a one-year, $12 million contract to replace Félix Bautista, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery this year. He got off to a good start, collecting seven saves before trouble began on April 26th against Oakland. Two days later, he left another loss against the Athletics with upper back soreness.

He saved a game in Cincinnati, and then last Saturday, Hyde pulled him, and he was bailed out by Yennier Cano.

‘We’re going to stick with him,” Hyde said. “This guy’s got a big-time track record. He’s a Hall of Famer and we need to get him right. He’s big for us. It’s important that we get him right.”

Webb has been mentored by Kimbrel, and he remains steadfast in his support.

“I think he’s going to be fine, man,” Webb said. “He’s a Hall of Famer in my book. Being around him every day and watching what he does, I think we have all the confidence in the world.”

How big was Webb’s save? Hyde had used everyone in his bullpen but Mike Baumann by the time Webb came in the game in the 12th. He recorded his second save after Luis Garcia’s double scored Abrams, striking out Nick Senzel and getting Jesse Winker and Joey Meneses on fly balls to right.

“Trying to come in and shut it down,” Webb said. “Tough situation, regardless. I was glad I was able to complete it.

“It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth the whole time. They’re a good lineup and so are we. I think it’s just a matter of who gets the outs faster than the other team.”

“He was up a couple of times already earlier in the game,” Hyde said. “Webby sucked it up for us again.”

Why was Bradish effective? Kyle Bradish was making his second start of the season after missing the first five weeks of the season with a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament. He allowed one run on four hits in five innings, striking out nine and walking two.

“I think I was still fighting myself mechanically, but I was able to make pitches when I needed to,” Bradish said. ”It’s another step in the right direction.”

Hyde was pleased with what he saw from Bradish.

“I didn’t think he had his best command today” Hyde said. “The velocity was great. The movement was awesome, just a little bit inconsistent, which was expected with a guy [making] his second start … His stuff was amazing, and I thought he really battled through five innings.”

Bradish had to sit through six difficult innings, watching his teammates grapple with the Nationals.

“Stressful,” Bradish said. “it was fun. Free baseball. We were able to pull out a W. We’ve done this the past two years. I think we [don’t] ever get down on ourselves. We know we’re in every single ballgame, no matter what.”

What’s the word? “It depends on how long it’s going to be on the shelf. If it’s just a 15-dayish IL stint, then maybe not. If it’s longer, then we’ll probably have to.”-Hyde on whether Grayson Rodriguez will need a rehab start. Rodriguez is on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder inflammation.

What does it mean? It will be interesting to see if Kimbrel remains as closer. The Orioles have $12 million invested in him, and to put him in a lower-profile role would be difficult.

What’s the stat of the day? 103. The Orioles have now played 103 regular-season series without being swept. They’re two behind the 1903-1905 New York Giants for third place on the all-time list.

Why doesn’t Hyde like two off days this week? The Orioles were off on Monday, and after playing two games against the Nationals, they have another day off.

“I don’t think it makes any sense to have an offday after a two-day series with an offday before,” Hyde said before the game. “I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”

He also called June’s schedule, which calls for only one offday on June 17th, “ridiculous.”

What happened in the minor leagues? Shortstop Jackson Holliday hit his third home run, his first since his demotion to Triple-A Norfolk on April 26th in the Tides’ 12-3 win over Memphis.

Second baseman Connor Norby and third baseman Nick Maton homered. Centerfielder Daniel Johnson hit two home runs.

Designated hitter Terrin Vavra had three hits and catcher Creed Willems homered as High-A Aberdeen beat Hudson Valley, 6-5.

What’s next? After Thursday’s offday, the Orioles host the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games. Cole Irvin (3-1, 2.86) will face Brandon Praadt (1-2, 4.61) at 7:05 p.m. The game will be shown exclusively on Apple TV+.

Game time changes: The Orioles’ July 14th game against the New York Yankees has been moved to an 11:35 a.m. start. The September 8th game against Tampa Bay will not start at 12:05 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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