Bradish keeps barreling toward rotation spot, Vavra singles in return (game ends 5-5)

SARASOTA, Fla. – Kyle Bradish became the first Orioles pitcher tonight to make three starts this spring. He’s the first to work four innings.

No one has done it better.

Bradish shut out the Twins over the first three frames before Matt Wallner homered with one out in the fourth. He struck out the next two batters to give him eight for the game.

“Pretty pleased,” he said. “Everything was really good. Commanded the zone from the second on.”

"Showed really good stuff again," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Some deep counts there early but I thought he got better as the game went on. Really good breaking ball. Love that he's throwing that two-seamer that he introduced second half of last year that made a huge difference. He's just carried that work into this year. He's doing a great job so far this spring."

The changeup was an integral part of his success again tonight, with its usage about 30 percent of his outing.

“It’s just a pitch that helps me get back on plane and timed up if I’m having big arm-side misses,” he said.

The right-hander has surrendered two runs and four hits in nine innings, and he’s struck out 12 batters with only two walks. His impressive second half of the 2022 season is bleeding into exhibition games.

Won’t hurt his chances of challenging for the Opening Day start.

“He’s impressive,” said Terrin Vavra. “He goes about his business just as good as anybody in the league and his stuff is up there, too. It’s fun to play defense behind, it’s fun to, I get to look at the radar gun every now and then and see him run it up there. He’s a great teammate and he’s really fun to watch and play behind.”

Bradish doesn’t view himself as a finished spring product. He sought some assistance tonight from pitching coach Chris Holt to correct a mechanical flaw.

“Front side was a little sloppy today, kind of rushing down the mound,” he said.

“Slider just wasn’t really there. I probably threw two or three good ones out of 10, so back to work on that one, but I’m not too worried about it.”

Four of the eight strikeouts were looking. Bradish twice got Brooks Lee swinging, disposing of the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft and a player who was on the Orioles’ board.

Bradish credited catcher James McCann’s pitch selection for the called third strikes.

“He was kind of working top-bottom, in-out to everybody,” Bradish said. “And then we kind of worked backward early and were heavy fastball the third and fourth inning.”

The Orioles haven’t settled on their five starters. Bradish certainly is presenting a strong case for his inclusion.

“Yeah, I’d like to think so,” he said. “I think after my second-half performance last year and then getting my work in this year and going about my business how I do, I think I should be in contention for it. But like I said, it’s not up to me. I just want to go out there, do my thing, and let what happens happen.”

* Vavra returned to the lineup after being unavailable due to left shoulder discomfort. He lined a single into center field in his first at-bat, making him 7-for-12.

Delayed but not denied.

“Everything felt good,” he said. “It’s been a couple days, I haven’t really had any symptoms. Just good to get back out there and get some at-bats, see some pitches.”

And good to get another hit right away.

“This game’s pretty tough, so anytime you can get a good result, it feels good,” he said. “I was just happy to be able to put a barrel on it. I feel like I was on time with everything. Good to see some breaking balls and just kind of compete. Overall, just fun to get back out there.”

Vavra bounced to the mound in the third to strand Adam Frazier after a two-out double, and Josh Lester replaced him at third base. He was scheduled to come out of the game.

“I think I’m in there again tomorrow,” he said. “The important part was just seeing some pitches, kind of getting back into the game. I think it’s all part of their progression. I don’t ask too many questions. When they told me to come out, I come out.”

Hyde confirmed that Vavra will be in Saturday's lineup in Dunedin.

Vavra played one inning of third base in the minors but has made a few starts this spring.

“I would be lying if I said I feel extra confident. I haven’t played too many games over there, but I’m confident in my athletic ability, I’m confident in how many times I’ve played this game and watched this game, and ultimately I’m pretty confident in my ability to adapt,” he said.

“Having confidence in those things, knowing how I prepare, knowing how I’m working every day to get a little better at it, I think I find some confidence in that. But as far as just getting out there in the environment, it’s different. It doesn’t feel all that normal, so to speak, but I definitely feel pretty confident in how I’m working to get better there.”

* The Orioles broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth, gave up two in the ninth and played to a 5-5 tie.

Maverick Handley walked with one out, went to third base on Mark Koloszvary's gift double - right fielder Wilie Joe Garry Jr. stumbled while tracking the ball in the wind and rain - Jackson Holliday struck out, Colton Cowser walked to load the bases, and two runs scored when shortstop Danny De Andrade committed an error while attempting a sliding stop of Connor Norby's ground ball.

Eduardo Bazardo allowed two runs in the top of the ninth while it was raining sideways.

Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Mountcastle and Kyle Stowers to begin the bottom of the fourth tied the game 1-1. Mountcastle has six hits this spring - four doubles, a triple and a home run.

Mychal Givens worked a scoreless fifth inning with one hit and two strikeouts. He also was called for his third balk in two appearances.

Seth Gray hit a game-tying home run off Bryan Baker in the sixth as the first rain feel since we arrived at spring training. Baker has allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Cade Povich allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh on two walks and Mikey Perez's double, but he struck out the next two batters and returned for a scoreless eighth that included a walk and strikeout.

Josh Lester stayed hot, lining a game-tying RBI single into left field in the bottom of the seventh after Ryan McKenna’s leadoff double. Lester is 6-for-11 in his last three games.


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