Bruce Zimmermann's strong start leads O's past the Angels in series opener

ANAHEIM, Calif. – He was getting ahead of hitters. He had their timing disrupted with his changeup. His fastball was hitting spots and his secondaries were on point. Lefty Bruce Zimmermann, whose season began with two scoreless outings, threw a third straight strong game tonight.

It was some impressive pitching.

And the Orioles offense, which came to life yesterday after Trey Mancini’s ejection, tonight matched their season high in runs.

The Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 to start a three-game weekend series. They improved to 5-9 overall, to 2-3 on this road trip and to 2-6 in road games.

How good was Zimmermann tonight?

The trio at the top of the Angels’ order – Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts against him the first two times through the order.

He became the first O’s starter to see the seventh inning this year before Rendon’s two-run homer ended his night and the O’s 5-1 lead became 5-3.

Zimmerman improved to 1-0 with an ERA of 1.20. And the Orioles got another solid starting pitching performance. Tonight he went an O’s season-high six innings, plus two batters on 76 pitches. He gave up five hits and three runs (two earned) with one walk and six strikeouts.  

O’s starting pitchers began the night with an ERA of 2.91, seventh-best in MLB. Tonight an O’s starter allowed two earned runs or less for the 11th straight game.

The O's bullpen once again did the job late. Felix Bautista, Cionel Perez and Jorge Lopez closed it out after Zimmermann. It was the third save for Lopez.

Zimmermann’s night began when he retired Ohtani swinging and then got Trout and Rendon on just seven pitches. He got the first of three double plays behind him in the second and another in the third. That inning ended with Zimmermann having faced the minimum nine batters and he was at just 33 pitches.

But here came Ohtani, Trout and Rendon for a second look at the Baltimore lefty. The Ellicott City kid from Loyola Blakefield and Towson University was up to the task.

He struck out Ohtani on a slider, Trout on a curveball and Rendon on a changeup. Yep, he fanned all three. It was a 15-pitch inning where he struck out hitters with these career OPS numbers - .885 for Ohtani, 1.002 for Trout and .851 for Rendon.

The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. And catcher Robinson Chirinos, who left Wednesday’s game when hit by a pitch that glanced off his face, had the run-scoring hit. He drove in two runs for the lead. Anthony Santander led off the frame with a walk. That meant he had reached base in all 14 games on the year – no one else in MLB has done that. With one out, Ramon Urias singled to right and on the throw to third against Santander, Urias took second base. Chirinos came up with three infielders on the left side. And he hit a grounder to the right side to scored two runs. He had begun the night batting .182 with no homers or RBIs.

A three-run O’s sixth inning against Angels reliever Archie Bradley allowed the O’s to open a more comfortable 5-0 advantage.

Trey Mancini led off and ripped a 106 mph single to left. Ryan Mountcastle’s single put runners on first and third. An infield single off the pitcher’s glove by Santander stretched the lead to 3-0. They later added on with RBI groundouts from both Ramon Urias and Chirinos. That gave the O’s catcher a three-RBI game in his return to the lineup.

Ohtani camp up against Cionel Perez in the eighth with a man on and hit into a 6-5-3 double play. He smoked a ball at 103 mph up the middle but Jorge Mateo snared out to start the Orioles' fourth double play of the night.

So Ohtani, the 2021 American League MVP, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play tonight against Zimmermann and Perez. 

But Zimmermann was the biggest story here tonight. He had an ERA of zero for the season until Rendon's blast in the seventh. But it was a strong outing again and this time versus an Angels team that began the night in first place, was averaging 5.0 runs per game and ranked second in the AL in team OPS at .756.

A few postgame quotes with much more coming in the Saturday morning entry ...

Manager Brandon Hyde on the win: “Great win, great team win. I mean we turned four double plays. Our infield defense was absolutely fantastic. But Bruce Zimmermann for me is the story. Going into the seventh inning. I think he had 60-something pitches going into the seventh, was throwing the ball extremely well. Threw the ball great.

“Just really happy with how far he’s come. His changeup is really good. Had some good breaking balls tonight. That’s a good lineup over there. We played really good defense behind them and our bullpen held on.”

Hyde on O's pitchers battling Ohtani, Trout and Rendon: “You know, Cionel getting the double play from Shohei. That is possibly the play of the game with Trout coming up there. I was really happy with how we threw the ball. We were aggressive. Think we had one walk. But also, on the flip side for me, that was our best offensive night of the season by far. We scored five runs but we hit numerous balls hard again. Trey continues to hit the ball on the nose with not a whole lot of luck. He hit two balls to right-center to the wall again. We situationally hit well. We did a lot of things well tonight."

Zimmermann on what made his outing so good: “The infielders for sure. All those double plays, you can’t downplay them at all. Without them, I don’t think I get through the game like I did. Think we mixed and switched really well a lot (of) the guys. And we just stayed aggressive through the zone, like we’ve been doing the past couple outings. So overall, a lot of execution and being backed up by my teammates really helped.”


Another look at the O's pitching in win over first...
O's game blog: The series with the Angels begins

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