Bullpen comes up big as Orioles complete sweep of Mets (updated)

The bullpen juggling began today with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning, after balls kept missing the strike zone. Manager Brandon Hyde not wanting the Orioles to drop a game in the series.

Hyde has limits to his patience and desires to back off his relievers. Kyle Bradish tied his career high with five walks but didn’t allow a run. The pressing of luck would have to stop.

Former Orioles outfielder DJ Stewart grounded out against left-hander Cionel Pérez, the matchup game working out, and Jorge Mateo tripled and scored in the bottom half of the inning.

Félix Bautista notched his 30th save after Shintaro Fujinami topped 100 mph on six of his nine pitches, and the Orioles registered their seventh sweep with a 2-0 victory over the Mets before an announced crowd of 27,100 at Camden Yards.

Mets left-hander José Quintana shut out the Orioles through the fourth, but center fielder Rafael Ortega whiffed on a diving attempt on a sinking liner and Mateo had his second triple of the season. Third baseman Mark Vientos mishandled Adley Rutschman’s grounder and settled for the out at first to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

James McCann led off the seventh with a double and Ryan McKenna singled. Manager Buck Showalter brought in Trevor Gott, Ryan O’Hearn pinch-hit for Mateo, and McCann scored on a fielder’s choice.

Second baseman Danny Mendick fielded the grounder, looked home, looked confused and flipped the ball to shortstop Francisco Lindor for the out at second base. No double play. Another instance when the Mets appeared to be playing in a fog.

Or just in a much worse place than the Orioles, who recorded their sixth shutout and are a season-high 28 games above .500 at 70-42 heading into the off-day. Their 70th win last season arrived on Sept. 2.

Pérez stranded a runner in the sixth after a two-out walk and earned the win. Cole Irvin was handed the seventh and became the first Orioles pitcher to retire the side in order.

Irvin has appeared in the seventh or later in four of his last five appearances, shedding his role as long reliever and consumer of innings.

Hyde used some relievers in different spots because he wanted to stay away from Yennier Cano and Danny Coulombe.

"I was going to give them two days off. When you do that, all of a sudden different people are pitching in different spots there in the sixth through the eighth," Hyde said.

"It's going to take all those guys down there the rest of the way. ... I was excited, honestly. I was kind of hoping we'd be in a spot where other guys would step up on big spots, and that happened today."

Fujinami struck out Pete Alonso and Stewart in the eighth, his three fastballs to the former outfielder clocked at 101 mph, 100.8 and 102.6, and Omar Narváez popped up a 102.3 mph heater. Nine pitches and nine strikes.

The 102.6 fastball was the fastest strikeout pitch of his brief major league career.

"He's had some good outings and some rough outings, and the last two have been really good," Hyde said. "The game in Toronto didn't go his way, he didn't have command, but proud of him for being able to want the ball again. He wants to be out there."

Bautista surrendered a leadoff double to Vientos in his first appearance since Monday, but the bullpen delivered 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Bautista struck out pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach at 101.9 to end the game.

"Bullpen, they did it last year and they've been doing it this year," Bradish said. "Anytime I hand the ball off with runners on, I feel confident."

"Cionel Pérez, biggest out of the game there in the bases-loaded situation, and then what he did the next inning," Hyde said. "Cole Irvin, outstanding inning. That was the best stuff we've seen from Fuji. Fantastic and dominating stuff."

Six of Pérez's last seven outings have been scoreless. The 2023 season has been a grind but he seems to be coming out of it much stronger.

Hyde trusted him again today.

"It means a lot to me," he said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. "It obviously gives me a lot of confidence.

"It's a long season, so over the course of the season you've got to work and make different adjustments. And honestly, I'm just happy to continue to help the team in any way so we continue to win ballgames."

Hyde loves the stuff wielded by Pérez and Fujinami. They just need to locate it.

"I think they're getting confident," Hyde said.

"We're going to need Cionel down the stretch."

Relievers on injury rehab assignments with deep major league resumes could return and force the club into some tough decisions.

"I'm not worried about that at all," Hyde said. "You can never have enough really good relievers. Things can happen on a nightly basis, so depth is going to be big-time important the last 50 games."

The Mets didn’t have a player in their lineup with an average higher than Jeff McNeil’s .253. Stewart was hitting cleanup in his 18th game with the club. Below him were averages of .189, .213, .217, .192 and .083.

Bradish allowed only three hits and struck out five batters in 4 2/3 innings – three with his curveball and one each with his fastball and slider – but the five walks, wild pitch and hit batter were clear indicators that his command was lacking.

"Didn't have his fastball command like he's had in the past," Hyde said. "Had really good putaway, just didn't have command of his fastball as well as usual. But grinded through 4 2/3, and then our bullpen was outstanding."

"I would say that's probably the worst command outing I've had this year," Bradish said, "but I was able to make pitches when I needed to."

No. 9 hitter Rafael Ortega, 1-for-12 before today, led off the third inning with a single and Francisco Lindor walked with one out. Alonso grounded into a double play, again running less than full speed up the line.

Quintana loaded the bases in the third with two-out walks to Rutschman and Anthony Santander bookending Ryan Mountcaste’s single that extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. Gunnar Henderson flied to shallow left.         

Mets reliever Adam Ottavino committed a pitch clock violation in the eighth with the count full to Santander. One last miscue before they boarded their flight home.

The Orioles will enjoy their off-day before hosting the Astros for three games. Seeing how high they can carry the best record in the American League after winning seven of their last eight games and 11 of 15.

Today marked their first three-game sweep of the Mets since 1997 and second sweep overall, including a two-game set in 2018.

* Cedric Mullins led off again today at Double-A Bowie and went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter. Jackson Holliday homered on back-to-back days. John Rhodes hit his 10th home run.

Holliday is batting .396 with a 1.090 OPS.

Jean Pinto allowed six runs in three innings, but only two were earned.

High-A Aberdeen’s Tim Susnara hit his first home run.

Bruce Zimmermann has a planned shorter outing scheduled with Triple-A Norfolk, and Austin Voth will make another appearance on his injury rehab assignment.

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