Kimbrel allows run in 9th as Orioles lose to Blue Jays, 3-2; Bullpen usage a concern; Povich starts Thursday - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Kimbrel allows run in 9th as Orioles lose to Blue Jays, 3-2; Bullpen usage a concern; Povich starts Thursday

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton USA TODAY Sports

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What happened? Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s single scored Cavan Biggio with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2, on Wednesday night.

Oriole closer Craig Kimbrel (4-2) allowed two hits and committed a costly throwing error. He told reporters in Toronto after the game that he yanked the throw to first in an attempt to pick off Biggio, and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle had to chase after the ball, which allowed Biggio to move to second.

Justin Turner led off the bottom of the ninth against Kimbrel with a two-strike single to right, and Biggio ran for him. After Biggio reached second on the error, Alejandro Kirk hit a fly ball to right that allowed him to advance to third.

With the infield drawn in and the outfield playing shallow, Kiner-Falefa drove a pitch over the head of rightfielder Kyle Stowers that was ruled a single.

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After winning 10 of their previous 12 games, the Orioles (39-21) are now 3 ½ games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Yankees beat Minnesota, 9-5.

It was another frustrating night for the Orioles’ offense.

They took a 2-0 lead in the second on Anthony Santander’s 12th home run and Ramón Urías’ RBI double but did nothing on offense after that.

José Berrios, who is 10-1 against the Orioles in 16 starts, allowed two runs on six hits in six innings. The Orioles did not get a hit in the final three innings against Tim Mayza, Chad Green and Yimi Garcia.

How was Suárez? Albert Suárez allowed two runs in the bottom of the second on Kirk’s sacrifice fly and Kiner-Falefa’s RBI single and rebounded with a four-pitch third inning.

Suárez, who used his cutter effectively, allowed the two runs on five hits in five innings, walking one and striking out four. His earned-run average is 1.83.

What’s happening with Mullins? While Cedric Mullins hit two balls hard, he was hitless in three at-bats, though he walked and stole a base and scored on Urías’ double. Mullins is 0-for-17 and his average is .178.

Since May 1st, Mullins is 9-for-73 (.123).

What does it mean? The Orioles’ offensive shutdown after they scored in the second was key. They had scored 17 runs in the previous two games against the Blue Jays. Suárez gave them another decent start, but he didn’t get nearly enough support.

What’s the stat of the day? 6-9. The Orioles are 6-9 in one-run games and have lost their last four one-run games.

What’s next? Left-hander Cade Povich will make his major league debut against Yusei Kikuchi (2-5, 3.66) on Thursday at 1:07 p.m. Kikuchi is 4-5 with a 5.17 ERA in 13 games against the Orioles. Povich will be the second Oriole to make his debut in Toronto, joining Connor Norby, who hit a home run in his second game and didn’t play on Wednesday.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Jonathan Heasley allowed six runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings in Triple-A Norfolk’s 7-6 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Second baseman Jackson Holliday and leftfielder Heston Kjerstad each drove in two runs.

Centerfielder Jud Fabian hit a two-run home run, his ninth, as Double-A Bowie beat Binghamton, 6-5.

Preston Johnson, Luis Sánchez (3-2), Yaqui Rivera and Kyle Virbitsky combined on a six-hit shutout as High-A Aberdeen beat Brooklyn, 6-0. Leftfielder Scott Etzel drove in a run and stole his 28th base.

Single-A Delmarva’s game with Lynchburg was rained out. .

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

Bullpen usage a worrisome trend

Some managers say that they never want to see their relievers among the league leaders in appearances. The Orioles have two pitchers, Yennier Cano and Jacob Webb, among the major league leaders.

Cano (31) and Webb (30) are both in the top 10. The Orioles played their 60th game on Wednesday night, and Cano and Webb are on pace to appear in 80 games. The team record for appearances is Jamie Walker’s 81 in 2007.

Danny Coulombe, who appeared in his 28th, is not far away from the leaders.

That sort of usage is probably unsustainable, but Cano, Coulombe and Webb have been the Orioles’ most dependable relievers aside from Kimbrel.

It was only Kimbrel’s second appearance since May 26th. Unlike other star closers, Kimbrel doesn’t like to be used in games that aren’t close just to maintain sharpness, though manager Brandon Hyde hasn’t shown a reluctance to warm him up in case a large lead is threatened.

With the Orioles using Povich to start on Thursday, it would be foolish to expect more than five or six innings from him, and the bullpen could be taxed again. Webb won’t be available since he pitched two games in succession.

The Orioles will have to make a roster move to add Povich, and if they drop a relief pitcher, that would mean only seven relievers.

If the Orioles don’t return Povich to Norfolk after his debut, that would mean Hyde would have to navigate a long stretch with a smaller bullpen.

Before Wednesday’s game, Hyde told reporters in Toronto that he didn’t know when Kyle Bradish, whose turn would have been on Thursday, would start again, and he expected lots of uncertainty in the rotation.

While Corbin Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez have consistently given the Orioles long starts, they’ll need more from others as they continue their difficult stretch with just one offday, June 17th, through June 30th.

Dean Kremer remains on the 15-day injured list with a strained right triceps muscle.

Cole Irvin has completed six innings in four of his nine starts. While Suárez has been a terrific story, he throws a lot of pitches. He threw 84 in five innings on Wednesday night, and in his previous start, he threw a season-high 95 against Tampa Bay in five innings on May 31st.

Bradish, who had a late start to the season because of a sprain of his right ulnar collateral ligament, threw 103 when he pitched seven hitless innings against Chicago on May 26th. In his next start, Bradish allowed five runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Rays on June 1st.

We’re awaiting word on when his next one will come.

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