Irvin outstanding again as O's take series opener (Tides toss combined no-hitter too)

CINCINNATI – The great recent pitching run of O’s lefty Cole Irvin hit the road tonight at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. He baffled the Reds as he had the Royals and Athletics in his two previous starts.

He entered the game with a scoreless streak of 14 1/3 innings and had thrown 13 2/3 scoreless on eight hits in his most recent outings against Kansas City and Oakland.

He was 2-0 with an ERA of 0.98 his last three starts, with the Orioles 3-0 in those games.

A great pitcher’s duel between Irvin and Cincinnati right-hander Hunter Greene was finally broken up in the Baltimore seventh. Adley Rutschman produced an RBI double for the lead and Ryan O’Hearn's home run added to that as the Orioles beat Cincinnati 3-0 in front of 25,861 in the road trip opener.

In a game that started two hours and 41 minutes late due to rain, they won the series opener to stay a game ahead of the Yankees, who also won. The Birds are now 21-11 with wins in four of the last five and nine of their past 13 games.

Against Reds reliever Emilio Pagán, Jorge Mateo singled to left for Baltimore’s sixth hit and stole second to lead off that seventh frame. A deep fly out advanced him to third, then Rutschman’s double broke the 0-0 score. The Orioles catcher lined a ball that right fielder Jake Fraley dove for and touched but could not catch. Rutschman’s 19th RBI got the O’s on the board.

Batting next, O’Hearn drove one deep to right center and it went out for a big two runs and 3-0 lead. O’Hearn hit the eighth pitch – a 1-2 cutter at 86.8 mph – for his fifth homer on a ball that went 397 feet.

It was the O’s major-league-leading 49th home run.

On the mound meanwhile, Irvin was rolling.

He allowed a one-out single to left by shortstop Elly De La Cruz in the first. It was an 18-pitch inning for Irvin, and then he got really, really rolling.

After that single Irvin retired 17 in a row through the last of the sixth and was at 63 pitches after getting the first 18 outs. The Reds began today leading the majors with 55 steals, but they just couldn’t get anyone on base.

Irvin gave up a De La Cruz double leading off the home seventh. A strikeout followed and Yennier Cano replaced him, completing the inning with a 3-0 lead.

Irvin is now 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA.

He gave up just two hits with no walks and collected four strikeouts on 72 pitches, 50 for strikes. He had thrown 33 pitches after three innings, 44 through four, 53 after five and 63 through the sixth. He got 11 groundball outs.

Over his past three games he has thrown 20 straight scoreless innings and his overall scoreless run is at 20 2/3 innings. His past four games he allowed two runs in 24 2/3 innings.

The O's have thrown four shutouts this season, all in the last 12 games. They have two shutouts the past five games, allowing just six runs in that span. 

Right-hander Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth, in his first outing since last Sunday and first since he dealt with upper back tightness that day. He completed a four-pitcher two-hitter and struck out the side. 

The challenge for O’s batters, who scored just 13 runs in the four-game series against the Yankees, was flamethrowing right-hander Greene and his 98 mph fastball.

But the O’s almost got to him when the game finally started after the long delay.

Gunnar Henderson smoked a single at 109 mph to right but was thrown out at second trying for a double, 9-6. Rutschman then walked and O’Hearn reached on an infield single to third base. The runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Greene fanned Ryan Mountcastle looking at a 99 mph heater and Anthony Santander popped up a slider. Greene needed 27 pitches, but put up a zero in the first.

He walked a batter each in the second and third, but it led to no runs to that point for the Orioles, beginning a five-game road trip tonight.

The Orioles struggled early on with runners in scoring position and were 0-for-7 in those spots through five innings, stranding six. They left two on in the fifth and sixth when Greene was replaced by right-hander Fernando Cruz. He fanned Heston Kjerstad with two on to keep Greene’s line scoreless over 5 2/3 innings that took 109 pitches and left his ERA at 3.12.

The O's broke through against the 'pen in the seventh, and Irvin and the bullpen did the rest as the road trip got off to a winning start. 

On the farm tonight: Right-hander Chayce McDermott had terrific stuff this evening and in fact pitched 6 2/3 no-hit innings tonight for Triple-A Norfolk as the Tides beat Nashville 2-0 on a combined no-hitter.

McDermott had a perfect game with 11 strikeouts going into the seventh inning. He walked the first man in the inning, got two outs and then issued another walk. He was pulled after throwing 96 pitches. McDermott's effort lowered his ERA to 2.89.

Nolan Hoffman followed McDermott with 1 1/3 innings, and Kaleb Ort pitched the ninth for his second save.

This was the Tides' first combined no-hitter since the team became an O’s affiliate in 2007. And it was the first Tides no-hitter since Chris Tillman against Gwinnett on April 28, 2010.

O's postgame comments follow.

Manager Brandon Hyde on Irvin's recent run: “A little bit of what he’s been doing the last couple of starts. Great pitch mix, working ahead of hitters, keeping guys off balance. Slider looked really good. Changeup to the knees and below. Two seamer has got some sink and run to it. He’s really pitching, did a great job."

Hyde said Irvin is not throwing as hard as he was in spring: “We haven’t really seen that velo since, but I like this better. This is better command what he is doing right now. And throwing a ton of strikes."

Hyde, is Irvin "in the zone?": “I think he’s pitching with a ton of confidence right now. So if that’s what is being the zone is, I think he’s close to it. It’s confidence with what he’s throwing and pitching with a ton of conviction."

Irvin on reasons for recent success: “I’ve gotten into some processes lately that I didn’t have before. Working with a mental skills coach and doing a number of other things. It’s really kept my process simple and easy. Just trying to be as consistent as I can and executing every pitch. Four-seam, two-seam, cutter, slider, curveball, change. That’s a lot of pitches, but if I’m focused on where I’m supposed to throw it, it makes the game a helluva lot easier."

Irvin, this the most fun you've had in the majors?: “I’m just blessed to be in the major leagues and wear the uniform and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it. While I’m playing, I’m going to have a blast. I love what I do and I enjoy the little aspects of our game. When I get to have some fun with my teammates, I’m going to do it."


Everything that happened with the Orioles before t...
O's game blog: The series and road trip opener at ...

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