Another win, another strong game on mound: Behind Dean Kremer, the O's sweep the Reds (updated)

CINCINNATI – Maybe the O’s starters are just trying to match or better the previous pitcher. But whatever the reason, this team, as catcher James McCann observed last night, has used great game plans and execution to go on a tremendous pitching roll.

Today it led them to a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

The O’s had not swept the Reds since the 2014 season, and never on the road before today’s 11-1 win behind Dean Kremer’s strong start, Jordan Westburg’s two-run homer, two RBIs from Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander's grand slam in the ninth to cap it off. 

Friday night here, Cole Irvin threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Lefty John Means went seven without allowing a run last night.

Today Kremer pitched six scoreless while allowing just one hit, a clean single to left by Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the fifth. He walked one and fanned six, throwing 93 pitches.

He improved to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.57.

The O’s pitchers almost pitched three straight shutouts here. They outscored the Reds 16-2 this weekend. 

Baltimore pitchers have now allowed just two runs the last 30 innings. They allowed just 11 hits and two runs this weekend with five walks to 26 strikeouts. 

At 23-11, the Orioles have won four in a row, six of seven, 11 of 15 and 15 of the last 20 games. They now hold the best record in the American League. If the Phillies lose tonight, Baltimore will have the best record in the majors. 

In this series, Irvin, Means and Kremer combined to go 19 1/3 innings, allowing just six hits and no runs while issuing one walk and collecting 18 strikeouts. Going back to Thursday, O's starters have thrown 21 1/3 straight scoreless innings.

Keeping up with all the pitching stats can be a challenge.

The Orioles are 8-0 this year when they get a scoreless start. Until they were scored on in the ninth, they were on the verge of pitching their third shutout in seven games and fifth in the past 14 games.

Yep, a crazy pitching roll.

Kremer was dealing from the outset. He pitched a 1-2-3 first, second, third and fourth. The single in the fifth came after he retired the first 13 batters. The Reds got two on that inning, but Kremer got Nick Martini to fly out and Santiago Espinal to pop out.

The Orioles have a good road record this season – 10-4 heading into the series finale today – but this afternoon they scored in the first inning on the road for the first time all year.

And it was a three-spot against a tough lefty in the Reds' Nick Lodolo, who entered this outing at 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA. Over his four starts, three runs was the most he had allowed in any one game this season.

And it looked like he might sail through the opening inning today after he got Gunnar Henderson to foul out and got Adley Rutschman to chase a curveball for strike three.

But Ryan Mountcastle doubled into the left-field corner and scored on Anthony Santander’s single to center for a 1-0 lead. Santander smoked an 0-2 curveball that was middle-middle. He entered today batting just .136 with one RBI his last 13 games. But that liner at 107 mph off his bat ended that.

Jordan Westburg hit the very next pitch to right for a two-run homer and a quick-strike 3-0 lead. He got a fastball on the outer half and went with the pitch, driving it out to right a few rows into the bleachers. Westburg, who had been homerless for 11 straight games, hit No. 6 a distance of 378 feet. Last year he drove in 23 runs in 68 games. He now has 23 RBIs in 32 games.

The string of scoreless first innings on the road that the Orioles snapped today is the second-longest season-opening streak of that kind in club history. They started the 1972 season with 17 straight road games with zero first-inning runs.

The Orioles added to their lead on Rutschman’s RBI double to left in the fifth inning. It was another two-out rally against Lodolo when he hit No. 9 batter Ramón Urías and walked Henderson. Rutschman smoked a 1-0 fastball to score Urías and provide a 4-0 lead. The double had a 106.4 mph exit velocity.

The O’s scored five total runs in winning the series' first two games.

They led 6-0 with two more runs in the seventh on Ryan McKenna’s solo homer – his second in eight at-bats on the year – and Rutschman’s single to left.

Right-hander Albert Suárez made his O’s relief debut after three starts and pitched scoreless ball over 2 1/3 frames. Mike Baumann got the final two outs. 

Up big already, the O's added five more runs in the ninth on Colton Cowser's RBI double and Santander's third career slam.

This is the O’s third three-game sweep of the year. They took three at Boston April 9-11 and three at home versus Minnesota April 15-17.

After an off-day on Monday, the Orioles open a two-game series at Washington on Tuesday night with right-hander Corbin Burnes (3-1, 2.61 ERA) facing righty Trevor Williams (3-0, 2.27 ERA).

Minor league note: Double-A Bowie right-handed reliever Kade Strowd is being promoted to Triple-A Norfolk according to a source. Strowd, 26, is 2-1 with an ERA of 0.00 this year over nine games. He's allowed four hits and three unearned runs over 10 1/3 innings while recording one walk and 11 strikeouts. The O’s 12th-round pick in the 2019 draft has a 0.48 WHIP.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Kremer: "Dean gave up one hit through six innings. Really battled. I thought he had all pitches working today, kept them off balance. Super aggressive in the strike zone. Fantastic and fun to watch Suárez there. His first relief appearance and do what he did. We pitched really well this series."

Hyde, are pitchers trying to match each other?: “Yeah. Definitely a guy sees what a guy does the night before, you want to match it. Right down the line we’ve been doing that so far. We’re on a good stretch of starts. Enjoy the off-day tomorrow and hopefully keep it going in D.C."

Hyde on Santander's slam and big day: “That is the best left-handed swing he’s taken in a long time, for me. And not just because of the result. Because how free and easy it was, flat through the baseball. Just really happy for him in that moment. He’s been really, really grinding. He got off to a slow start last year too. He’s such a talented hitter and a huge part of our lineup."

Kremer on strong outing: “Try to follow suit like the other starters. A lot of mix and kind of pitch to our strengths and really attack these guys.”

Kremer, can O's have one of the game's best rotations?: “Yeah. I think we have the potential to be the best team in the big leagues. Our offense is unbelievable. The defense that they play is unbelievable. And our pitching staff, when we put it together, pretty good. I like where we’re at.”

Westburg on early lead and his home run in the first: “Super important. Last couple of games we haven’t put up a whole lot of support for our pitchers. They're pitching their butt off. We’d like to make it a little easier game on those guys, so for us to put up some runs today was pretty cool.

“The homer was a heater. Wanted to be more aggressive after the day I had yesterday. Felt in between and like I was too passive. So wanted to jump on something, and I did.”


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