Bradish retires 18 in a row, O'Hearn and Henderson homer in 5-0 win (updated)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Kyle Bradish never left the Orioles rotation, he just stepped back for a few days. Recharged the battery and waited until the club devised a new order. Shook off the season’s worst start and rattled the other team.

Pitching for the first time since last Saturday, Bradish retired 18 batters in a row after Yandy Díaz’s leadoff single in the first inning. The Rays didn’t get a ball out of the infield against him.

Bradish struck out nine batters in six scoreless innings, Ryan O’Hearn hit a leadoff homer in the fourth, and the Orioles defeated the Rays 5-0 before an announced crowd of 20,485 at Tropicana Field that was decorated in orange on the third base side.

Jordan Westburg delivered an RBI triple with two outs in the eighth, Gunnar Henderson lined a three-run homer into the right field seats in the ninth, and the Orioles improved to 41-22 overall and 15-6 in the division. They moved within three games of the first-place Yankees, who face the Dodgers later tonight.

They came within Díaz's two-out single in the ninth of their second one-hitter of the season, the first on May 26 in Chicago, when Bradish tossed seven hitless innings. They retired 26 Rays in a row before Díaz bounced a single into right field and notched their fifth shutout.

"I'll take this one over the Chicago one any day," Bradish said.

Henderson’s 20th home run, a laser against Phil Maton, also was the 100th for the Orioles in 63 games to match the fastest that they’ve reached the century mark in franchise history.

"Gunn doing a great job taking that 3-0," Hyde said. "A lot of young guys probably would have been swinging out of their shoes on that 3-0 pitch. Did a great job taking it to get something he can drive and a huge three-run homer for us."

The team record for homers in a season is 257 in 1996, and this group is pretty much on the same pace.

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

"It's pretty dang impressive," said reliever Danny Coulombe. "That's why we have the homer hose down there, and let's just put it this way, we're all pretty hydrated."

The bullpen has allowed only two runs in the last 31 2/3 innings. Coulombe retired the six batters he faced today and struck out the side in the eighth, all of them looking.

"That's not how we drew it up," said manager Brandon Hyde. "(Yennier) Cano and (Jacob) Webb were definitely not going to pitch today. Then I had to double-barrel with Coulombe out there. He was just throwing the ball so well. I didn't go into the game expecting Danny to pitch two innings. Just the way he can shape the ball to righties and lefties and the way he can use different types of breaking balls with confidence and competitiveness. He's having a heck of a year."

Coulombe could smile today. He surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced in Chicago after Bradish came out of the game with the no-hit bid intact.

"I felt pretty good today," Coulombe said. "I had a few days off, just makes a huge difference. I was just glad I could get those guys out, and strikeouts are pretty fun. Bradish threw the heck out of the ball today and I'm glad I could talk to you guys. After the last time I pitched after him, it wasn't the best thing. But this one's a lot better."

The only down note was struck in the bottom of the sixth when Kyle Stowers came out of the game with right wrist soreness. Colton Cowser replaced him in left field.

"He dove for a ball in Toronto on the turf and banged it up a little bit and it just got sore throughout the game," Hyde said. "He should be fine."

O’Hearn worked the count full against Taj Bradley and pulled a splitter into the right field seats for his ninth homer. Henderson torched a sweeper at 103 mph off the bat after Connor Norby led off the ninth with a single on his 24th birthday and Cedric Mullins walked.

Bradish kept acting like he didn’t need more than one run.

Díaz reached on an infield single in the first, with Bradish making a barehand pickup on the third base side of the mound and throwing late. Bradish proceeded to plow through the Rays lineup, striking out nine batters.

"That was unreal, that was really fun to play behind," Henderson said. "He had everything working."

Bradish struck out the side in the fifth, winning a nine-pitch battle with Josh Lowe. He fanned the first two in the sixth while Coulombe and Dillon Tate warmed.

Coulombe replaced Bradish, who threw 88 pitches and lowered his ERA from 3.18 to 2.62. The sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow hasn’t influenced his outings. He might actually be better in 2024.

"I feel like I'm still getting back to where I was last year," Bradish said, "but I feel like every outing I keep progressing and learning how to read swings and kind of be on the same page as Rutsch (Adley Rutschman) and (James) McCann."

"He's an ace," Coulombe said. "I'm extremely impressed. Last year he had a great year but he still knew he could get better. The strikeouts, you can see, are way up this year. ... The kid's a stud."

Any benefit to being pushed back a few days?

"I think, health-wise, it benefited me," Bradish replied. "We had our game plan and we executed it today."

The reversal from Bradish’s previous start was jarring. He lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the Rays, allowed five runs and seven hits, and was pushed back in the rotation.

He shoved today.

"Weird pitching against these guys, same matchup as last week and was a rough one for Kyle, and for him to rebound like this and throw the ball, this was second-half-of-last-year stuff," Hyde said. "Just heavy sinker, heavy cutter, strikes. We didn't walk anybody on the day. Just a lot of weak ground balls. His stuff was fantastic.

"I think he had more swing-and-miss in Chicago, but so much weak contact today. And just the way he got ahead of hitters and the defensive swings. The first hit of the game, just a mis-hit, slow ground ball. That's the only thing he gives up the entire day. When you can keep the ball out of the outfield, that's an amazing performance."

Said Bradish: "I faced these guys a lot, so they know me, I know them. Just tried to switch up what we did last time. Obviously, throw more strikes and be competitive in the zone. Got a lot of early contact and getting a lot of swing and miss."

Bradish is seventh pitcher in Orioles history to have two starts in a season with six-plus innings and one hit or fewer allowed. He joins John Means in 2021, Chris Tillman in 2012, Jason Johnson in 2003, Mike Cuellar in 1975, Steve Barber in 1967 and Wally Bunker in 1964.

Bradley faced the Orioles last weekend and allowed nine runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. They hit four home runs.

He struck out the first two batters today and gave up a single to Ryan Mountcastle, who accounted for half of those home runs in the first meeting.

The Orioles stranded a runner in each of the first three innings, but O’Hearn made certain that they’d score in the fourth. They clubbed three home runs last night and began today leading the majors with a .447 slugging percentage and ranking third with a .755 OPS.

Is hitting contagious?

“For sure,” O’Hearn said earlier in the day. “If you see your buddies getting hits and doing well, obviously you think you can do the same. If guys have great at-bats, pitchers throw more pitches, and that’s ultimately the goal is to get the other team to throw as many pitches and you see as many pitches as possible. You see what kind of stuff they have and watch on video, kind of prepare ourselves. So yeah, hitting is definitely contagious.”

It was more like a slight case of the sniffles today until the Orioles broke open the game late.

Bradley retired the side in order in the fifth and exited at 99 pitches and only the one run allowed. Rutschman walked in the sixth against former Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong and Anthony Santander doubled with two outs, but Jordan Westburg shattered his bat on a fly ball to right.

Cowser and Henderson walked against Colin Poche in the seventh and were stranded to raise the Orioles’ total to seven. O’Hearn singled and stole second base in the eighth and Westburg flied to deep left-center field with two outs. Jose Siri appeared to make a leaping catch on the track, but the ball popped out of his glove.

Austin Hays entered the game in left field, his first action since bruising his ribs, and he doubled in the ninth.

* Triple-A catcher Maverick Handley went on the concussion injured list after being hit on the mask last night by a foul tip.

Connor Pavalony was transferred from Double-A Bowie to Norfolk.

Jackson Holliday hit his seventh home run in the third inning. Billy Cook hit a three-run homer in the fifth and Daniel Johnson followed with his 11th.

Chayce McDermott allowed one run and three hits and struck out eight batters over six innings. His ERA is 3.57.

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