Clubhouse concern, support for Bradish (plus Baker's key inning)

As the Orioles waited to get the latest results for right-hander Kyle Bradish on Saturday, players in the clubhouse expressed support for a friend and teammate that returned to the injured list.

Birdland is hoping for the best result and a quick return for Bradish, who has gone 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA over eight starts.

“What Kyle Bradish did, battling through everything and it’s been a tough road this year for him, to give this team what he has, just the definition of a warrior,"said first baseman/DH Ryan O’Hearn. "Knowing that your elbow hurts, just what Kyle has done has been unbelievably impressive.

“My heart breaks for John Means and Tyler Wells, too. I can’t imagine being a pitcher and having your entire career rely on your arm. That’s a hard thing."

There is a human element here as the Orioles care about their teammates and don’t want to see them go through a tough time. But then game time comes.

“You have to play the games every day. You have to figure out a way to win,” said O’Hearn. “Even though it doesn’t always feel right or good to have the next man up mentality, I think you just have to in this business. Because the collective goal for all of us is for the O’s to win. That is what matters.”

When will the O’s just have too many pitching injuries to overcome? Too many to keep winning at their current pace or too many to make winning in October difficult?

“Can’t think about that,” said O’Hearn. “When you’re in it, everybody wishes everyone was healthy all season. That is just not the reality of it. I think as much as it sucks, we have to look forward to the next day and keep going. It’s June. We’ve got a long way to go. My hope is we get guys back and get to the playoffs. That is when you can go on a run and anything can happen.

“Have to take it one day at a time. If you look too far ahead, that is something I try not to do. It can seem insurmountable if you look too far ahead. I think if you take it a game at a time as a player, that is really all you can do.”

And game time comes almost every day or night.

“And it’s time to play," said O'Hearn. "Everybody in this locker room we care about each other. To see anyone go down it sucks, but you feel for a teammate and (then you have to) get ready and play the next game."

I also asked Gunnar Henderson if he has concerns about the mounting pitching injuries.

“I guess if it keeps going, it could be (an issue),” he said. “At the same time, I feel like we have a really good developmental staff at the Triple-A level. Anybody that comes up, you see (with Cade) Povich, he came up and has been throwing very well. They are down there getting prepared for this stage. It’s a team-based mentality here and whoever comes up they will have the right mindset for success when they come up here.”

Henderson said he also feels for his teammates that have spent time like Bradish dealing with injuries.

“I mean it’s not the ideal scenario," he said. "But I feel like, as a team, we just always come together no matter what the circumstances are. We’re going to go out and continue to play our game. Somebody always steps up. It can be one guy one day and the next someone else.

“I hate it for him (he said of Bradish). Pitched his butt off last year and this year. I don’t know what is going on, but yeah, he’s pitched great for us.”

Henderson said he remains very confident the Orioles will keep winning even as more obstacles are in the way.

“No matter what is thrown our way," he said. "I feel like we always just buy in together and go out and play hard each day."

Not just another bullpen inning: When right-hander Bryan Baker was called on to pitch the eighth inning Saturday with the Orioles leading the Phillies 3-2 it might have surprised some people. But manager Brandon Hyde had to work through a depth chart of pitchers with some he was not planning to use.

So Baker, just called up from the minors Tuesday, was asked to face Philadelphia’s Nos. 2-4 hitters. He got Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper and Alec Bohn out on 11 pitches, touching 97.5 mph with his fastball and getting two whiffs on three swings against his slider.

It was some job by Baker, who kept the Orioles ahead by one. Then they scored three in the home eighth to take a 6-2 lead and eventual win. The series finale is today at Oriole Park.

Baker had a 6.55 ERA at Triple-A this year but threw scoreless his last five games before he got his latest chance to return to the majors.

The O’s know him well – he has pitched in 112 games for the club over the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

But it had been a while since Baker pitched in such a high-leverage spot at this level and nerves were sure going he said.

“Of course," Baker said. "Think you might not have a pulse if you are not a little bit nervous for a spot like that. Such a good team we’re playing. And being able to be up here and help out is fun."

Baker added that he has an even greater appreciation for getting big outs in the majors after spending so much time this year on the farm.

“Absolutely," he said. "Haven’t been in that spot for awhile. But being able to do that in years past, go off those memories. Just trust that you’ve been here before and that helped me through it.

“You know, you step back and think about it for a second and you think about how much hard work you put into it. To be able to get back in this spot, it means a lot to me.”

And I could tell it did. Baker was part of the O’s turnaround in 2022 and much of the winning last year. He was back on the mound in a big spot Saturday and came through for the Orioles.

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