What they're saying about Orioles' power, bullpen after 9-5 win over Rays - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Orioles’ power, bullpen after 9-5 win over Rays

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? Ryan Mountcastle hit two two-run home runs, and Anthony Santander and Jordan Westburg each homered to power the Orioles to a 9-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday.

The Orioles’ four home runs equaled a season high, and they needed them because starting pitcher Kyle Bradish followed his seven hitless innings in Chicago last Sunday with the team’s shortest start of the season.

Bradish allowed five runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings. He allowed three straight walks in the third, including a bases-loaded one.

The Orioles have won eight of nine, and Mountcastle has raised his average from .256 to .293.

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“He’s driving the baseball the other way,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Not afraid to let the ball travel, staying on the ball so well. He’s got the ability to barrel the baseball. When he doesn’t try to do too much, and uses the middle-of-the-field approach, he’s a special hitter. You saw that today.”

Where did the power come from? The Orioles hadn’t hit a home run in three of their past four games and homered four times for the second time this season.

Mountcastle and Santander hit back-to-back home runs, the third time by the team this season, and Mountcastle’s two home run game was also the third of the season.

Since May 20th, Mountcastle is 17-for-37 (.459). He nearly hit a third home run but flied out to deep center in the sixth.

“I got a little under it, but it was a good day,” Mountcastle said. “It’s unbelievable what we’ve got 1 through 9, and when we’re all hitting, we’re pretty dangerous, and a fun team to be around.

“It’s not easy for pitchers. It eases the weight off your shoulders a little bit with all that talent we have.”

Westburg homered in his first at-bat since missing two games with a sore right hand.

“It’s doing fine,” Westburg said. “I’m just glad to be back in the lineup. Those two or three days feel like forever. I’m happy to contribute today.”

All four home runs were hit against Tampa Bay starter Taj Bradley.

“I think it was just a good team approach,” Westburg said. “I think we were spitting on his splitters and cutters down, and he made a mistake in zone and up, and feel like we put some good swings on the ball.”

What was wrong with Bradish? Last Sunday, Bradish was dominant in his seven hitless innings, though he did walk four.

“Just a bad day,” Bradish said. “I guess it was a bad day being a starting pitcher in Baltimore today.”

Bradish gave up the Rays’ five runs while Tampa Bay’s Bradley allowed each of the Orioles’ nine runs.

“This offense is a powerhouse,” he said. “We put up nine runs and erased the five I gave up and we took another series from an AL East opponent.”

The Orioles are 14-0-5 in their last 19 series against American League East teams.

“I just thought they put [up] really good at-bats against him,” Hyde said. “I thought the stuff was good. He got tired in the third. That pitch count was up. There were a lot of deep counts, a lot of foul balls. He grinded.”

How strong was the bullpen? Jacob Webb, Dillon Tate, Cionel Pérez, Yennier Cano and Keegan Akin combined for 6 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Bradish.

“Our bullpen is pretty lockdown,” Bradish said.

They allowed three hits, a walk and struck out seven.

“I think there’s not enough focus being put on what our bullpen did today,” Westburg said. “We scored some runs, but they came in and put up zeroes for the rest of the game. These guys kind of saved the game for us. That’s not a typical Bradish start. We expect him to go out and give us a quality start every time. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and the bullpen had his back today.

“As long as they keep us close in the game, we always feel like we have a shot at winning games if we’re behind. It’s huge. It gives the starters confidence, too, that even if they don’t have their best stuff, we’ve got guys back there that are going to pick them up and give us a chance to win a ballgame.”

Webb worked 2/13 innings, matching his career high set on September 26th, 2020.

“An amazing job,” Hyde said. “Jacob Webb, pitcher of the game, comes in the with the bases loaded, way earlier than he normally does.”

“I’m just trying to come in, chew up innings and that’s really it, throw strikes and get as many outs as I can,” Webb said. “When I’m coming out of the bullpen, I’m not coming in the game, thinking about giving up runs, just trying to shut them down, throw strikes, go as far as I can until they take the ball from me.”

How difficult is it for veterans to accept reduced rules? Outfielders Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins were out of the lineup on Saturday. Hays pinch-hit for Mullins on Friday night and delivered a key hit that tied the score in a 3-1 victory.

Hyde knows how difficult it is for players with a record of accomplishment.

“You factor in a lot of things when you’re making decisions,” Hyde said. “You try to do the best you can to win the game. The players are aware of that, and you also have their interest in that as well. Communication and trust goes a long way when you’re making tough decisions like that. You pull for those guys. You’re talking about Cedric and Austin. They’ve done a lot of really good things here the last few years, and you’d love to see them get going. I’m trying to set them up as best as I possibly can and win as many games as I can as well.” .

What does it mean? The Orioles needed 10 1/3 innings from the bullpen the last two games, winning both. They’ll need a lengthy start from Cole Irvin on Sunday because Webb, Pérez and Cano have worked two straight games.

What’s the word? “Maybe our starter didn’t have it that day, and he’s not feeling on his A-game. That’s the beneficial part of having a good clubhouse. Guys are willing to step up and take care of things.”-Webb on having a strong bullpen.

What’s the stat of the day? 10. Santander hit his 10th Eutaw Street home run, the first by an Oriole this season. He’s one short of Chris Davis’ team record of 11.

“That’s pretty special,” Santander said. “If felt great on my bobblehead day,” he said.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Justin Armbruester (1-4) allowed seven runs on eight hits in five innings in Triple-A Norfolk’s 10-2 loss to Gwinnett. Shortstop Jackson Holliday doubled and scored both runs. Centerfielder Billy Cook drove in the two runs.

Trace Bright (1-4) allowed four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings as Double-A Bowie lost to Somerset, 6-2. Designated hitter Samuel Basallo hit his eighth home run.

Second baseman Tavian Josenberger hit a three-run triple as High-A Aberdeen beat Hudson Valley, 3-1. Luis De Léon, Yaqui Rivera (3-1), Luis Sánchez and Graham Firoved combined on a three-hitter.

Carolina beat Single-A Delmarva, 3-2. Starter Michael Forret allowed a run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

What’s next? Cole Irvin (5-2, 2.84) will face Zack Littell (2-3, 3.47) at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday in the final game of the homestand.

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

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