Kyle Bradish must not be the sentimental type. Not on the nights that he’s pitching.
The Orioles welcomed back Trey Mancini, who returned to Baltimore for the first time since his trade, but Bradish made himself the center of attention.
He didn’t allow an Astros batter to reach base until Mauricio Dubón lined a first-pitch slider into left field with two outs in the sixth inning. He didn’t have any intention of letting in a run.
Friendships are cherished, but so are shutouts. Bradish came within an out of getting it by himself.
Bradish retired 26 of 28 batters, Rougned Odor celebrated his return to the lineup with a two-run single off Justin Verlander in the second inning, and the Orioles beat the team with the best record in the American League, 2-0, before an announced crowd of 16,417 at chilly Camden Yards.
Félix Bautista began to warm in the eighth, sat down and resumed throwing in the ninth. Bradish jogged to the mound for the last inning and got two more outs before Bautista notched his 15th save by stranding Jeremy Peña, and the Orioles improved to 78-71 overall and 3-1 versus the Astros.
Bradish struck out Yanier Díaz and Dubón, Peña singled into left field, and manager Brandon Hyde removed the rookie at 100 pitches. Bradish went 8 2/3 innings and allowed two hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts.
"I'd say about the third inning I was like, 'All right, we're working.' And it just kept going from there," Bradish said.
"Everything was working, so when you've got four or five pitches working for you, it's pretty easy out there."
The Astros didn’t come close to nicking Bradish until his 65th pitch, when Dubón singled in front of Terrin Vavra.
Jorge Mateo prevented Aledmys Díaz from reaching in the seventh by ranging far to his right to backhand a ground ball and throw from the grass, his momentum carrying him into foul territory.
Bradish threw 10 pitches in the eighth, raising his total to 88, and got the following:
"Just commanding the zone, mixing pitches well," said catcher Adley Rutschman. "Off-speed looked great tonight. It was a fun, fun day to be a part of."
Jordan Lyles went the distance last night in an 8-1 win over the Tigers. The Orioles almost registered their first consecutive nine-inning complete games since Sidney Ponson and Juan Guzmán on June 11-12, 1999.
"I knew if a runner gets on I was going to come out," Bradish said. "It was a two-run ballgame and Bautista was fresh and we've got to win these games. Wasn't too happy that I didn't finish it, but I completely understand and knew it."
Lyles and Bradish are the first Orioles to work eight or more innings in consecutive games since Chris Tillman and Scott Feldman on July 21-22, 2013.
"How about this time of year, too," Hyde said. "It shows the kind of physical condition and shape these guys are in, too. Jordan Lyles being able to go nine last night and Kyle being able, in a tight game, a 2-0 game, where it's obviously one of the best offenses in the game and pitch with a small lead, that's really, really challenging. And it's a huge step forward for him.
"Obviously going from the stretch, that was a huge deal. The other side of the rubber was a big deal. Just really simplified his delivery, and now you've seen him pitch with a ton of confidence."
The club’s 14th shutout, the most since the 1992 Orioles registered 16, became official while Yordan Álvarez stood on deck. Hyde had an easy call last night, letting Lyles go back out for the ninth, but he intended to pull Bradish if a batter reached.
"Different scenario, different score, different guy on deck," Hyde said. "I told Fredi (González) in the top of the seventh or the bottom of the seventh that that was going to happen. One of those were you're just kind of waiting for that situation, possible tough scenario, tough call. It was really challenging. Anybody got on base there in the ninth inning, I was bringing in Bautista. I was just trying to stay away from Alvarez as much as I possibly can, and fortunately Bautista punched Díaz out.
"What an amazing start from Kyle. ... For me, first time being able to go back out for the ninth inning in the big leagues, that's really cool."
What is it about the Bradish and the Astros? He shut them out on two hits over eight innings on Aug. 26 in Houston, and now has 16 2/3 scoreless innings with only four hits.
"Just feeling good," Bradish said. "Routine was good today, I felt really good, pregame bullpen really good. Everything was working."
"Houston's a great team," Rutschman said, "so definitely kudos to Kyle for the way he performed tonight. It was unbelievable."
"I'm not sure if it's team-related," Hyde said. "He's got his fastball going two different ways now, and when it's 96-97 and it's going left or going right, with the sinker, it's just super-hard to hit. They can't stay out over the plate on him anymore. And his breaking balls are so good that he can throw both of them and get swings and misses.
"The changeup's a little bit hard, it's kind of like a normal person's two-seamer, but then he's got the two-seamer now that's mid-90s and you see guys getting tough takes because they're looking out over the plate. He's just really learning how to pitch, and that was a lot of fun to watch tonight. I wish he could have finished it."
Mancini finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his first at-bats at Camden Yards since July 28.
A video tribute played as Mancini stretched in the outfield, and he raised his cap to thank fans who stood to applaud.
The ovation grew louder as Mancini walked to the plate with two outs in the second inning. He stopped short of the batter’s box, backed up, raised his helmet and spun in a full circle to again acknowledge the crowd. He smiled and nodded at Rutschman.
That same helmet, along with his batting gloves, were tossed at home plate after a called third strike.
Odor wasn’t in the lineup for the past four games and had one RBI this month. His last multi-RBI game was Aug. 12.
"It was good to be playing," Odor said. "Whatever happens is in the past. I'm just trying to help my team to win. Bradish did a really good job on the mound, and Adley, too. I just thank God that I got a hit and drove in those runs to win the game."
Ryan Mountcastle and Vavra stroked back-to-back singles with one out in the second, Kyle Stowers tapped back to the mound and Odor lined a 96.6 mph fastball into right-center field.
"Roogie, who hasn't played in a few days, gets a start and it's an enormous hit for us," said Hyde, whose club remains four games behind Seattle for the last wild card.
Odor was 6-for-39 with two home runs and 12 strikeouts against Verlander before tonight.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," Odor said. "He's been pitching for so many years. With him, you've got to be nice and easy. Try to get a pitch to hit and keep it simple with him, and that's what I did."
Cedric Mullins had a leadoff single in the first and Rutschman grounded into a double play. It was the first hit allowed by Verlander since his Aug. 28 start against the Orioles, which lasted three innings and led to a stint on the injured list due to calf soreness. He tossed five hitless innings in Friday’s return game against Oakland.
The Orioles ran Verlander’s pitch count to 40 in two innings. Mountcastle singled again with one out in the fourth. Mullins doubled into the right field corner with two outs in the fifth, advanced on Kyle Tucker’s throwing error and was out at the plate after Alex Bregman retrieved the ball.
Catcher Christian Vázquez applied the tag as Mullins went in standing.
Verlander was done after six innings and 93 pitches, charged with two runs and six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. His ERA rose from 1.78 to 1.82.
"Like great pitchers do, kind of settles in after the first couple innings on us," Hyde said, "but I thought we swung the bat extremely well there early in the game against him."
Notes: Jordan Westburg hit a two-run homer tonight, his 18th with Triple-A Norfolk and 27th this season to tie Connor Norby for most in the system. He’s first in RBIs with 102.
Drew Rom was charged with four runs and six hits with one walk and eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Spenser Watkins was scratched again, with the Orioles keeping him available in case they need a fresh arm.
The Oriole are holding the second of several Florida Complex League camps in Sarasota, this one running through Oct. 12. The camps focus on weight room training and skill development. They aren’t open to the public.
Participating players are:
C Silas Ardoin
OF Dylan Beavers
INF Frederick Bencosme
INF Maxwell Costes
INF Adam Crampton
INF Isaac De León
OF Jud Fabian
OF Douglas Hodo III
INF Jackson Holliday
OF Elio Prado
C Adam Retzbach
INF Noelberth Romero
INF Anthony Servideo
INF Luis Valdez
INF Max Wagner
C Creed Willems
INF Carter Young