WASHINGTON – With an ERA of 9.49 and WHIP of 1.784 through his first three starts, O’s right-hander Dean Kremer was pitching nothing like he had yet during the 2022 season.
But on a night when he needed to turn around his season and give the pitching rotation a boost, he did both in the opener of a brief two-game series at Nationals Park.
Kremer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the Orioles beat the Washington Nationals 1-0 at windy and chilly Nats Park in front of 18,747 which featured a big number of Orioles fans.
In the first three starts this year, Kremer had an ERA of 9.00 and opponent OPS of 1.015 in the first inning of his starts. But tonight was different as he got a double play to end the inning after a one-out bloop single. He needed just nine pitches to get three outs.
That was a good sign and the night continued to be a big plus for him.
But it was the Washington third when Kremer really stepped up. Batting eighth, shortstop CJ Abrams singled to leadoff the frame and went to third on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Gunnar Henderson, his third error of the year at third base.
Kremer faced a second and third, no outs jam and then fanned the next three hitters batting at the top of the Washington order. He got Lane Thomas looking at a 93 mph two-seamer, Dominic Smith swinging at a high fastball at 97 mph and Joey Meneses swinging at a four-seamer at 96.
Kremer fanned two more batters in the fifth and had a three-hit shutout going to that point on 74 pitches. Lefty Danny Coulombe replaced him after a two-out single by Stone Garrett in the Washington seventh. Coulombe got the next hitter to keep the shutout intact.
Kremer allowed just four hits – all singles – and walked none with six strikeouts, throwing 95 pitches, 66 for strikes. He gains his first win and is 1-0 with an ERA of 6.16.
He became the third O’s pitcher, joining Kyle Gibson and Tyler Wells, to pitch six or more innings this year as that happened for the fourth time for O’s pitching. Gibson has the staff’s only seven-inning outing, which was at Texas and Kremer missed by an out of joining him tonight.
He threw a combined 57 percent fastballs, two-seamers and four-seamers and averaged 95.7 mph on the four-seamer. He got 15 whiffs on 53 swings by Washington hitters tonight.
The Orioles broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth. Ryan Mountcastle, who had gone 1-for-17 in Chicago, singled to start the inning and moved up a one-out walk. Austin Hays lined a single to left and Mountcastle got a good read that the ball would not be caught and made it home for the 1-0 lead. On the play, Adam Frazier ran to third but Hays was out at second after the thrown home 7-2-4.
The O’s came up empty on a big chance to score in the fifth. Jorge Mateo’s 106 mph double to left field started the inning and was his seventh extra-base hit of 2023. Ryan O’Hearn then walked. But Cedric Mullins chase a 3-2 slider to strikeout, Adley Rutschman flied out and Mountcastle grounded out to keep it a 1-0 O’s lead.
But Yennier Cano pitched a 1-2-3 eighth on just nine pitches, and Felix Bautista threw a scoreless ninth to record his fifth save.
The Orioles had four wins by a 1-0 score last year. They beat Oakland, Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Angels and Pittsburgh by that margin.
They won tonight for the sixth time in eight games to get to 10-7 on the year and to 6-4 on the road. They are three games over .500 for the first time.
They improved to 52-39 all-time vs. the Nationals and to 25-21 in road games here in Washington against the Nats. Washington (5-12) has lost five of six and is 2-8 at home.
A few postgame quotes.
Manager Brandon Hyde on Kremer: “Really pitched with his fastball extremely well. Throwing 95 to 97 into the seventh inning. But the second and third, nobody out (spot), he really stepped on the gas there. I thought he was really, really competitive tonight. Think you saw the intensity out there. Really happy for him after having a few tough starts.
“Worked ahead in the count the entire game. No walks, huge, working ahead. Really good stuff. He’s got four good pitches and he mixed well and he pitched a lot with his four-seamer tonight.”
Hyde on Kremer showing intensity: "You saw it when there was the second and third, no outs situation. You know, he knew we needed some punchouts right there and he went after it. Liked the way he elevated his fastball tonight He’s got the ability to do that more often, took advantage of it tonight and got some big strikeouts."
Kremer, did he feel a good outing was close?: “I can’t really say yes or no but, I mean, I’m very happy with the results and it’s definitely something to build off of."
Kremer, frustrated by poor start?: “Of course there are frustrations, anytime you come out on the bottom side and you see your ERA blow up. Kind of hurts, but not to lose faith in where you’re going.”