Orioles' Bradish, bullpen dominate Rays in 5-0 win punctuated by Henderson's 20th home run, team's 100th - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ Bradish, bullpen dominate Rays in 5-0 win punctuated by Henderson’s 20th home run, team’s 100th

Photo Credit: Nathan Ray Seeback USA TODAY Sports

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida—What happened? Kyle Bradish threw his second outstanding game in 13 days, allowing just an infield leadoff single to Yandy Diaz, before he, Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez retired 26 in a row before Diaz singled against Pérez with two outs in the ninth in the Orioles’ 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

On May 26th, Bradish threw seven hitless innings against the Chicago White Sox, then gave up five runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Rays. The 27-year-old right-hander would have been in line to pitch on Thursday in Toronto, but manager Brandon Hyde decided to give him two extra days of rest. It paid off.

“Healthwise, I think it benefited me,” Bradish said. “I should have been better last outing, but it didn’t work that way. We had a game plan, and we executed it today.”

Not one ball hit against Bradish left the infield, and he struck out nine without walking a batter.

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“That was awesome,” Hyde said. “I think he had more swing-and-miss in Chicago, but so much weak contact today. The way he got ahead of hitters, the defensive swings … When you can keep the ball out of the outfield, that’s an amazing performance.”

Ryan O’Hearn homered in the fourth, and he scored the second run on Jordan Westburg’s triple. Gunnar Henderson homered in the ninth, his 20th and the Orioles’ 100th.

It was their fifth shutout, the first since May 3rd.

What did Bradish think of his performance? Bradish was extremely disappointed with his last outing against Tampa Bay.

“I’ve faced these guys a lot so they know me and I know them,” Bradish said. “Just tried to switch up what we did last time, throw more strikes and be competitive in the zone. That led to early contact and a lot of swing-and-miss.”

Bradish was critical in Chicago of his seven hitless innings because he walked four batters.

“I’d take this one over the Chicago one any day,” Bradish said. “I got to the sixth with 80-something pitches. That sets up the bullpen nicely for the next few games. Hits are going to happen, and that’s not a big deal. It’s walks that kill the pitch count.”

How much fun was it to watch Bradish? Of Bradish’s 18 outs, nine were strikeouts, four were groundouts, three foul popups and two fair popups.

“That was unreal. That was really fun to play behind,” Henderson said. “He had everything working…That was a really amazing start. It seemed like he was getting ahead of hitters, and he was able to put them away in a couple of pitches. It seemed like he had everything working. That’s what you look forward to whenever you’re in in the infield.”

Coulombe didn’t realize the team had retired so many batters in a row.

“I didn’t know that. We went 26 straight?” Coulombe said. “That’s pretty awesome. Ultimately, we’re just trying to throw the ball over the plate and command the ball. Whatever happens, happens. You can’t control a lot in this game. We’re trying to control the controllables.”

Coulombe couldn’t compare the two excellent starts by Bradish.

“It’s hard to say he was better against the White Sox, but he was really good today,” he said. “He commanded everything. He was really sharp. He’s an ace.”

In 2023, Bradish finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

“Last year he had a great year, but he still knew he can get better,” Coulombe said. “The strikeouts, you can see are way up this year.”

How important was Coulombe? When Coulombe entered the game, the Orioles had a 1-0 lead in the seventh, and he retired the six batters he faced. He struck out Josh Lowe, Jose Siri and Taylor Walls looking in the eighth.

“I felt pretty good today. I had a few days off. It makes a huge difference,” Coulombe said. “I was glad I could get those guys out, and strikeouts are pretty fun.”

After Bradish’s seven hitless innings in Chicago, Coulombe allowed a home run to Danny Mendick, his first batter, and he was disappointed after that win. He was happier this time.

“Last time I pitched after him wasn’t the best thing, but this one was a lot better,” Coulombe said.

What happened to Stowers? Leftfielder Kyle Stowers left the game in the sixth inning.

“He had some right wrist/forearm discomfort,” Hyde said. “Dove for a ball in Toronto on the turf and banged it up a little bit. It just got sore throughout the game. He should be fine.”

How did Mullins do? Before the game, Hyde said he’d keep playing centerfielder Cedric Mullins, hoping he could break his slump, but he was hitless in three at-bats and a walk. He’s 0-for-24.

How did Norby celebrate his birthday? Connor Norby celebrated his 24th birthday by singling in the ninth and scoring on Henderson’s home run.

It’s been a fun week for Norby, who got a surprise promotion to the major leagues on Monday when Jorge Mateo went on the 7-day concussion injured list.

“Better than you could have ever imagined it to be,” Norby said. “You always have this picture in your head of what you think it’s going to be like. It can be hard to still see that vision at times when you’re going through it. You feel like you get overlooked at times, but then it happens. It’s a dream come true and more.”

What’s it like to wait for your turn? For most of the five years O’Hearn was with the Kansas City Royals, he played irregularly. Not until he came to the Orioles did he play often. He feels for Ramón Urías, who has played well since Mateo went on the injured list.

Urías is 8-for-16 in his last seven games but didn’t play on Saturday.

“It’s really hard. What Ramón has done the last few weeks has been unbelievably impressive,” O’Hearn said. “The mental side of not playing very much and grinding …I  can speak from experience, it’s a hard place to be.”

What’s the latest on Dean Kremer? Kremer is on the 15-day injured list with a strained right triceps muscle.

“We’re going to throw another side [session] with him the next few days,” Hyde said.  “And take it from there. You don’t want to have any setbacks. Things are trending in the right direction … Hopefully, he’s back with us sometime soon.”

What’s the latest on Tyler Wells? Wells, who is supposed to have right elbow surgery, is with the team this weekend.

“That’s to be determined at this point, the date,” Hyde said. “I think we’ll let you guys know when the date is set on that.

“It’s really unfortunate. I feel bad for him,” Hye said. “Whether he was going to be a starter for us, in the bullpen or [a swingman], he was really looking forward to being a part of the club this year. Hopefully, he’ll be the same guy when he comes back next year, but a blow for us to have to go for surgery.”

What does it mean? With Bradish’s two brilliant starts and Corbin Burnes as the No. 1 starter, it would be a surprise if the Orioles didn’t throw a no-hitter this season.

What’s the word? “The last few days, I felt better, for sure. I’ve been able to slow the game down. The faster I can get to slowing the game down, the better off I’ll be.”­-Norby on his first week in the major leagues.

What’s the stat of the day? 100. Henderson’s home run was the 100th hit by the Orioles in their 63rd game. They’re on a pace to hit 258 home runs. Their club record is 257 in 1996. Henderson is on pace to hit 51.

“I feel it’s a testament to us getting more experience in the big leagues,” Henderson said. “We’re still, obviously, a pretty young team, somewhat. It’s just the experience, and I feel like we’re putting together good at-bats and then the power is coming with it,”

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Triple-A Norfolk catcher Maverick Handley was placed on the injured list with a concussion. Connor Pavolony was promoted from Double-A Bowie to replace Handley.

What’s next? Grayson Rodriguez (6-2, 2.38) will face Zack Littell (2-3, 3.56)  on Sunday at 1:40 p.m. Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in three starts against the Rays.

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

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