Cowser's late home run, Povich's strong home debut highlight Orioles' 4-2 win over Braves - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Cowser’s late home run, Povich’s strong home debut highlight Orioles’ 4-2 win over Braves

Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? In his first home start, Cade Povich threw six scoreless innings, allowing five hits, and Colton Cowser hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Orioles their season-high sixth straight win, 4-2, over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Povich struck out six and didn’t walk a batter. The 24-year-old left-hander was leading 2-0 when he left the game.

“Just threw a ton of strikes. Did an unbelievable job,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s only had two starts. That was impressive tonight. That’s a good lineup. I know that team is going to get going offensively. They’re really, really dangerous. The way he kept them off balance was so impressive … That was everything we needed and more.”

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Cowser came into the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning before Matt Olson’s two-run home run against Keegan Akin tied it at 2-2.

The Orioles have won 16 of 20 and are 45-22.

“Overall, we’re having a lot of team wins,” Cowser said. “You look around, and we’re blanking teams. We’re putting up a lot of runs, and we’re finding ways to win ballgames.”

How was Povich’s home debut? In Povich’s first start in Toronto on June 6th, he allowed six runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings, and he had trouble sleeping and eating before the game.

“Today I could feel my body a little bit more,” Povich said. “Just going out there and feeling like myself and just try to stay on attack.”

Povich was able to eat breakfast, but then got nervous, though not nearly as nervous as he was last week.

“It’s still difficult for me to eat lunch, but I was able to get a little bit more down.”

Perhaps compounding the nerves was that Atlanta’s starter was Spencer Schwellenbach, who came to the major leagues just before Povich and was making his third start. Schwellenbach and Povich were teammates at the University of Nebraska, and it was the first time two Cornhuskers faced each other in a major league game.

Their families, friends and former coaches and trainers attended. Naturally, they swapped jerseys after the game.

“It was really awesome,” Povich said.

Hyde complimented Povich’s studiousness before last week’s start.

“The game plan going into this one was more prepared,” Povich said. “Learning from some of our other starters throughout this week, picked up on some cues to be prepared going into the start, who I’m facing, and I think, ultimately, pounding the strike zone and getting ahead early and letting the defense make some incredible plays today.”

Povich learned from his first start.

“I think a big difference from last start was on attack, and I was able to land my curveball a lot better today,” he said. “That’s a big pitch for me when it’s on, it’s on, and it sets up the fastball and everything else. I think that’s what I was missing the last start.”

The Orioles faced one of baseball’s best starters on Tuesday night, Max Fried. Cowser and Kyle Stowers thought they saw some similarities.

“Cade’s really impressive. Me and Stowers were joking around on the bench like he’s Fried-light,” Cowser said. “Just like Max yesterday, kind of the same build. He’s got really good stuff.

“He’s got six pitches, really good pitches, and when he commands it, he’s really, really good.”

What was Cowser’s night like? Cowser was 5-for-31 (.164) in June before his home run. He replaced Ryan O’Hearn in right field for the eighth inning and just after Olson’s home run, Cowser went into foul territory, an area that’s not visible to much of the ballpark, and made an excellent catch on Austin Riley’s fly.

“He was ready. He was ready from the middle innings to run or defend or pinch-hit in a big spot,” Hyde said. “Went in and made a big play defensively in a tough corner.”

Not long after that, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle singled with one out against Joe Jiménez, and then came Cowser’s home run. It’s not often that a defensive replacement wins the game offensively

“I knew if I came into the game, I was going to get an at-bat.” Cowser said. “I was just trying to do whatever I can to prepare myself. The coaches in the tunnel did a good job giving me an idea of who I was going to face. Usually, it doesn’t play out that way.”

Will Orioles throw a no-hitter this season? Kyle Bradish has had two exceptional starts in the past few weeks, throwing seven hitless innings in Chicago on May 26th and then limiting Tampa Bay to one hit in six innings on Saturday. If Bradish has come that close, could there be a no-hitter this season?

“I wouldn’t be surprised. We have some no-hit stuff in our rotation,” Hyde said. “I’ve seen a few. I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of … It’s so much fun, and it’s so nerve-wracking at the same time. I think we have the guys to do it.”

Hyde would prefer that it not be a combined no-hitter.

What does Baker think about being back: Bryan Baker pitched the entire 2022 season and much of the 2023 season with the Orioles, but he didn’t make the team in spring training. He was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, and the time in the minors tested his patience.

“It’s a long year. I’m sure at times down there it seemed longer than it really is,” Baker said.

Baker has not pitched in the first two games of the series.

What does it mean? Povich’s excellent start gives Hyde another option. With Albert Suárez throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday night, that’s two more starting alternatives he hadn’t counted on.

What’s the word? “When you can go six shutout against a team like the Braves in a major league game, it’s definitely got to be up there.”Povich on his thrilling home debut.

What’s the stat of the day? 18 1/3. Corbin Burnes, Suárez and Povich haven’t allowed an earned run in the last three starts, 18 1/3 innings.

What’s going on in the minor leagues? Centerfielder Hudson Haskin had three hits, including a three-run home run, and rightfielder Heston Kjerstad also had three hits as Triple-A Norfolk beat Memphis, 5-4.

Double-A Bowie was held to four hits in a 4-0 loss to Harrisburg.

Centerfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. hit his first professional home run in High-A Aberdeen’s 8-2 win over Hickory.

Second baseman Aron Estrada hit a two-run home run in Single-A Delmarva’s 5-2 win over Kannapolis.

What’s next? Cole Irvin (6-2, 2.87) will start against Reynaldo López (3-2, 1.85) in the final game of the three-game series on Thursday at 1:05 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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