A scout who includes the Orioles among the teams he tracks regards Kyle Bradish as a starter capable of winning on a consistent basis in the majors. He grades Bradish highly and agrees to disagree with others in the profession who aren’t quite as sold. They’ve debated it. No two reports are exactly alike.
“He has something,” the scout said this week.
Bradish had more than the Angels could handle tonight.
Facing the team for the first time that drafted and traded him, Bradish allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings in a 3-1 victory over the Angels before an announced crowd of 15,702 at Camden Yards.
Austin Hays homered in the fifth to expand a lead, and the Orioles improved to 28-15 with a chance to win the series Thursday afternoon.
Yennier Cano struck out two more batters while retiring the side in order in the eighth and hasn’t allowed a run or issued a walk in 21 2/3 innings. He’s fanned 25.
Félix Bautista earned his 11th save after walking a batter and striking out two, including Shohei Ohtani on a splitter. The bullpen ERA is 2.89, second in the majors.
"Two large men," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Just guys who are at the top of their game and the top of their profession. Félix threw some great splits, and it was great to see him get that split down. Not the matchup I'm looking for, the tying run at the plate, to be honest with you, but Félix did a great job pitching to him."
Cedric Mullins broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth with a two-out single into right field off Griffin Canning that scored Terrin Vavra. Hays drove a full-count fastball to the opposite field in the fifth, pointing to the dugout as fans reached for a souvenir.
Mike Trout led off the fourth with a game-tying home run to center field, the ball nicking Mullins’ glove as he rose above the fence. Bradish had retired nine of the first 10 batters.
Twenty batters came to the plate through the sixth and Bradish retired 17 of them on 84 pitches. Ohtani and Hunter Renfroe flied out in the seventh before Brandon Drury dumped a single into center field, with Adam Frazier unable to make an over-the-shoulder catch.
Hyde called upon left-hander Danny Coulombe, and Bradish received a standing ovation on his way to the dugout, his night finished at 94 pitches. Coulombe retired pinch-hitter Luis Rengifo on a popup.
Bradish allowed four hits, walked none and struck out five, and had his third quality start of the season and the 12th for the Orioles. His ERA dropped from 4.56 to 3.90.
He produced the rotation’s seventh start of 6 2/3 innings or more. He’s allowed one earned run in his last two outings over 12 2/3 innings, with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
He’s been everything the scout sees.
"I thought Kyle just had a ton of life to his fastball tonight," Hyde said. "He was working ahead in the count, 95-96 with cut, really good breaking balls. Not many rallies. Was working ahead all night and was super aggressive in the strike zone. Huge for us to get him into the seventh inning and almost got through it. Outstanding, outstanding start."
Bradish has one real dud this season, the seven runs allowed in 2 1/3 innings in Boston. He has one injury, from the line drive that nailed his right foot in his season debut in Texas. Otherwise, not much to complain about in 2023.
"He was throwing every pitch where he wanted to," said third baseman Gunnar Henderson. "He's been electric these past few outings, and I know that's expected from him. He does really well and I love playing behind him because he works quick and attacks hitters."
Facing the Angels wasn't a motivator for Bradish.
"I had really one year with them so I didn't have that big of an experience," he said, "but at the time I made some really good friends I still talk to. Not really different from any other start."
Mullins scored in the third to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead after drawing a leadoff walk against Canning and advancing on a wild pitch and ground ball. Ryan Mountcastle lined a single into left field with two outs.
Anthony Santander was stranded in the first inning after his two-out fly ball fell in right field due to a miscommunication, but the biggest waste came in the second. A golden opportunity that was tarnished.
The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs on Henderson’s second triple since May 9, Hays’ walk after he fouled a ball off his left foot and Gio Urshela’s fielding error on Frazier’s popped up bunt. Vavra grounded back to the mound, resulting in a 1-2-3 double play, and Joey Ortiz chased a slider for strike three.
Henderson has a hit in five consecutive games. Left fielder Taylor Ward failed to make a diving catch after racing toward the line, and Henderson kept going.
"Just feel like I'm a lot looser at the plate and just really been able to attack early, and take the ones that are over the plate, attack them early," he said. "Been feeling good about that. That's one of the biggest things so far.
"Just getting comfortable, just trusting myself and not just being tense trying to find the perfect pitch. Just allow myself to take over and be loose."
A two-out single in the third gave Henderson his first two-hit game since April 25. He lined out in the seventh, more barrel to ball.
"I knew it would happen eventually," he said. "Just keep putting good swings on the ball and it will eventually fall your way, and I felt like I was doing that. I knew it was only a matter of time."
"I just think he's getting more comfortable as the at-bats pile up," Hyde said. "It's not uncommon for young players to go through some adversity. I'm proud of the way he has handled the first part of the season. It's not easy up here and nobody thought it was going to be. What he did last September was unbelievable, but teams make adjustments. He's made adjustments back right now, and he's putting in great work and playing really good baseball."
Vavra reached on a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning, stole the first base of his career and scored with two outs on Mullins’ single. Adley Rutschman doubled to ignite the splash zone, but Santander popped up in foul territory to make the Orioles 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and seven stranded.
They went 2-for-11 and left nine runners on base. But it didn't stop them from again moving 13 games above .500.
"We squandered opportunities early and left some runs out there the first few innings unfortunately, and just to hold onto a 2-1 lead, and then Haysey giving us a little bit of breathing room was massive," Hyde said.
"Great to see him drive the ball the other way. Haven't seen him hit a ball like that to right field in a while and that was awesome to see."
* Jackson Holliday keeps tearing up the South Atlantic League. He came within a single of the cycle last night in a rain-shortened game and had two triples, a double and two singles tonight with five RBIs in his first five at-bats for High-A Aberdeen.
Josh Lester hit his 11th home run, singled, doubled and drove in two runs for Triple-A Norfolk. Chris Vallimont tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Former Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy allowed two runs and four hits in three innings for Syracuse and was ejected for using a sticky substance.
Double-A Bowie’s Cade Povich allowed three runs and four hits in four innings, with three walks and four strikeouts. Heston Kjerstad had a single and two RBIs.