Orioles put on another power show to back a strong start by Cole Irvin in 6-3 win over Rays - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles put on another power show to back a strong start by Cole Irvin in 6-3 win over Rays

Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel USA TODAY Sports

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—What happened? Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and Jordan Westburg homered in the Orioles’ 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Santander’s was his fourth home run in the last seven games, and Mountcastle has hit five homers this month. Mountcastle’s homer was his first opposite-field home run of the season; Westburg’s also was to right field.

“Our lineup is really deep, and we’re really balanced,” manager Brandon Hyde said. The Orioles lead Major League Baseball with 98 home runs and have five players with at least 10.

Oriole starter Cole Irvin allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. Jacob Webb, Yennier Cano and Craig Kimbrel combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit.

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The Orioles’ bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in 28 2/3 innings for an 0.63 ERA in the last nine games, which is especially impressive given its workload.

“I thought that was a really well played game,” Hyde said. “I thought we pitched extremely well and we got some timely hits.”

With the New York Yankees’ loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Orioles trail New York by 3 ½ games in the American League East.

What does Westburg think about the AL East? The Orioles’ win was a methodical one, and once Westburg hit his two-run home run in the top of the eighth, the Orioles had a three-run lead.

“It feels tight. I’m not going to lie,” Westburg said. “The in-division games, the stress level’s always a little bit higher. There’s a little bit more to every pitch. These games mean a lot, not only to us, but to fans, to staff. It means a lot to everybody because we know this division is an absolute dogfight. It’s going to come down probably to the very end of the season.

“These games might not be one-run games. They certainly feel like it times. As an offense, we try to keep our foot on the pedal all game because we know the teams in the other dugout are doing the same thing. They’re trying to come back. They’re not wanting to lose these games. These games mean a lot of them as well. We got a big dose of it last year. We’re seeming to get a good dose of it again this year. We’ve just got to keep playing well.”

What is behind Santander’s hot streak? Santander had disappointing numbers early in the season. He’s still hitting only .227, but his OPS is up to .778 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.

“People were getting Santander out early in the year with elevated fastballs,” Hyde said. “He got one tonight above the zone and put it in the seats. He’s done that a few times the past week or so. He’s made a really nice adjustment where early in the year, they were trying to crowd him and get him up out of the zone, and he’s gotten on top.”

How did Irvin pitch? For the moment, the Orioles have six starters and seven relievers, and Hyde is trying to squeeze extra outs from his starters.

He wanted Irvin to finish the sixth, but he pulled him with two outs, runners on second and third with the Orioles leading 4-3.

“His pitch count was so low because they were so aggressive,” Hyde said. “They were hitting some balls hard here. They were doing a great job of really attacking the strike zone. Give them credit for being ready to hit from pitch one.

“If we can get as deep as we can in the game, that’s fantastic for us right now. For the most part, we’ve done a really good job of it.”

On Sunday, Irvin allowed two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Rays.

“You have to be able to be flexible and knowledgeable of how you pitched them before,” Irvin said. “Sometimes it can work where you can do the same thing over, and it’s just dependent on the team. They like to swing it. I knew I had to execute in the same way as I did the previous start. I had a couple of pitches get away from me, but all in all, I thought it was a quality effort. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get out of that sixth. I felt really good.”

His teammates appreciate his approach.

“He just seems to get on the mound and have this bulldog mentality,” Westburg said. “Tonight probably wasn’t as clean as he wanted or maybe as some of his early starts have been, but he still gave us a quality start and kept he Rays’ offense at bay and allowed us to do some work as an offense.”

What’s next for Povich? Hyde hasn’t given left-hander Cade Povich a date for a second start.

“Just watching Major League Baseball from the dugout or from the bullpen for a little while is always helpful,” Hyde said. “To just see the rhythm of the game, to see how it’s played on this level. He only got a few innings the day before of seeing what a Major League Baseball game looks like from this vantage point.

“To have that first one out of the way, to be able to relax and watch for a little while is really going to benefit [him]. I was really impressed with him [on Thursday]. Poise, how he prepared, too, how he conducted himself on the mound … He did a fantastic job.”

What does it mean? The Orioles announced that next Saturday and Sunday’s games against the Philadelphia Phillies are sold out. It’s likely that there will be loud crowds with many Philly fans on hand.

What’s the word? “This start I felt a lot more like myself in terms of pitching in-and-out with a little bit of command. They’re not an easy team to face twice in a week.” –Irvin on his start.

What’s the stat of the day? 0-for-21. Cedric Mullins was hitless in four at-bats to extend his hitless streak to 21 at-bats. Adley Rutschman’s hitting streak ended at 10 games; Rutschman was hitless in five at-bats, striking out three times.  

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Justin Armbruester (1-5) allowed six runs on three hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings as Triple-A Norfolk lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 10-0. The Tides had just five hits.

Catcher Samuel Basallo hit a two-run home run, his 10th, for Double-A Bowie’s only runs in a 7-2 loss to Binghamton.

In his first game for High-A Aberdeen, Michael Forret (0-1) allowed seven  runs, five earned, on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings as the IronBirds lost to Brooklyn, 13-7. Starter Luis De Léon allowed five runs on six hits in three innings. First baseman Maxwell Costes had four hits, including his first home run.

First baseman Anderson De Los Santos and catcher Aneudis Mordán homered in the ninth inning for Single-A Delmarva’s only runs in a 7-2 loss to Lynchburg.

Norfolk infielder Terrin Vavra was placed on the injured list with a strained left groin. Tides catcher Maverick Handley was removed from the game after being hit by a foul tip in the mask.

Norfolk outfielder Daniel Johnson was named Minor League Player of the Month for May, and Aberdeen right-hander Edgar Portes was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Month.

What’s next? Kyle Bradish (1-0, 3.18) will face Taj Bradley (1-3. 5.81) in the second game of the four-game series against Tampa Bay. Game time is 4:10 p.m.

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

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