Storms moved out of the area, the tarp was peeled back, and the Orioles began tonight’s game on time, an unlikely proposition based on the ominous forecast.
Kyle Gibson’s dominance was delayed.
Gibson had to work through a bases-loaded jam in the first inning that cost him 24 pitches. He allowed one run and two hits in 6 1/3, striking out 11 to match his career high, and the Orioles defeated the Tigers 5-1 before an announced crowd of 12,194 at Camden Yards.
Ramón Urías had a three-run double in the third inning before his ejection, James McCann hit his first home run in the fourth, and the Orioles improved to 13-7. They’ve won five games in a row and nine of 11, and they go for a series sweep on Sunday with Grayson Rodriguez opposing Eduardo Rodriguez.
Gibson was averaging 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings in his first four starts. He registered five tonight through the second to equal his season high and had nine through the fifth. His 11th concluded the sixth.
The sweeper accounted for five, the sinker three, the changeup two, and the four-seam fastball one.
No other Orioles pitcher registered double digits in strikeouts this season.
"It's amazing to be able to go into the seventh after how the game started for him," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Didn't really have his command early. ... And then nothing until the seventh. That was fun to watch him pitch like a professional, really mixing speeds well and changeup was strike to ball, and the slider was really good."
"At times, everything was working, at times like the first inning, not much was working at all," Gibson said.
"We just had a good plan. We executed really well, and Mac and I were just talking about how I think everything we did tonight was probably the opposite of what we did the last start, so I don't know if I should do that every time. Turns out that it was the right plan to go with, and it helps when I have that fastball command. The first inning, didn't have it, and I was able to find it there between the first and second inning and kind of ride that a little bit."
Gibson retired 11 in a row before walking Akil Baddoo leading off the fifth. He set down 18 of 19, with Javier Báez’s single in the first the only Detroit hit, until Zach McKinstry homered on a two-strike pitch with one out in the seventh.
Hyde removed the veteran right-hander at 96 pitches and he waved to the crowd to acknowledge the standing ovation. He’s won all four of his decisions and lowered his ERA to 3.60.
Only four other Orioles starters have began a season 4-0: John Means in 2021, Bud Norris in 2013, Wei-Yin Chen in 2012 and Erik Bedard in 2006.
"He was lights out," McCann said. "I had to face him enough in my career. Getting to catch is a lot more fun. I can't say enough about the way the game started to how he settled in and went into cruise control.
"When he's locating like that, you've got to tip your cap because his stuff was moving so much, what you saw tonight is what you're going to get."
McCann made a mound visit in the first and told Gibson to throw the ball through him instead of to him.
"Some of the pitchers were just kind of, for lack of a better word, dying as they were getting to the plate," McCann said. "He made the adjustment there in the top of the first, and then we talked about it again in the dugout. He talked about a couple things mechanically that he was going to get in check, and he did. The results show you that he made the adjustment."
Gibson wasn't comfortable working out of the stretch in the first inning and threw almost every warmup pitch from the stretch to feel a better rhythm.
"I came in after the first, looked at my report, and that's where I found my confidence, that's where my preparation kind of locks me in, and you figure out what pitches you're supposed to throw the next hitter," he said.
Orioles starters hadn’t allowed a run in the last 23 2/3 innings before tonight. Gibson was on the verge of ending the streak after loading the bases with one out in the first on a single and two walks, but he struck out Spenser Torkelson and McKinstry lined to right field.
Torkelson whiffed on a sinker. McKinstry’s ball had an exit velocity of 107.4 mph.
The 30 consecutive scoreless innings from Orioles starters is their longest streak since the 1995 rotation went 42 in a row. The club record is 54 from Sept. 1-7, 1974, which also is the mark for most consecutive scoreless innings from the pitching staff.
The 2023 crew couldn't provide length earlier in the month and now it can't be touched.
"Just baseball," Hyde said when asked for an explanation. "We're going to have good moments and not so good moments and good starts and not so good starts. And right now we've been rolling off some really good starts. Bullpen has been pitching absolutely outstanding. Just really throwing the ball well here these last four or five days."
The Orioles took the lead against Joey Wentz in the bottom of the third and never were threatened.
Gunnar Henderson, a late lineup addition, led off with a single and has reached base in 12 consecutive starts. A balk and wild pitch with one out advanced Henderson to third, Austin Hays struck out for the second time and Adley Rutschman singled for the second time.
It sounded like Rutschman broke his bat on the soft liner into left field. Either way, it delivered a run.
Ryan Mountcastle singled and Anthony Santander walked to load the bases, and Urías took a 95.6 mph fastball to the opposite field for a three-run double.
Urías was called out on strikes to end the fifth, tossed his bat and helmet, and earned an ejection from plate umpire Vic Carapazza. Terrin Vavra replaced him at third base.
"That bummed me out," Hyde said. "He got an equipment violation and might have said something, I don't really know. Has Ramón ever been thrown out before? He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion normally, and pretty surprising."
The three-run double put Hyde in a different mood.
"Did not bum me out. That pumped me up," he said.
"That's where he lives, on balls out over the plate. He's got so much power and hits the ball so hard to the opposite side of the field. It's great to see him get into one. Ramón gets big hits for us and that was one we needed tonight."
McCann had increased the lead to 5-0 in the fourth with a shot into the bullpen that was 107 mph off the bat.
"Coming up with a big hit against a former team in a spot to kind of open the game up a little bit, that's a good feeling," McCann said.
"I think they worked really well together," Hyde said of Gibson and McCann. "Obviously, they were on the same page. And great to see McCann get a huge hit for us, too. Good to see him square one up and get a big homer for us. Good at-bats from him tonight. But he's in it for the pitcher and he's going to do everything he can to ... the communication in the dugout with these guys is fantastic. They're talking about the next inning, they're evaluating the previous inning, they're trying to navigate together, and that's a lot of fun to be in the dugout with them."
Cedric Mullins ran down Torkelson’s drive in deep left-center field to begin the seventh, and Gibson applauded him by patting the back of his glove. McKinstry followed with his 410-foot homer on a sinker.
Yennier Cano entered and got a strikeout and ground ball to the mound, returned for the eighth and retired the side in order. He’s retired all 17 batters that he’s faced with seven strikeouts since the Orioles promoted him.
The three strikeouts tonight came on his changeup and led to three poses on the mound. Body pointed directly toward the plate with legs spread.
"It's pretty simple, he's nasty," McCann said. "The swings that hitters are taking, you see the takes that hitters take, and guys just aren't comfortable. It's been fun to see him come up and do what he's doing."
The Orioles have won at least 13 of their first 20 games for the third time in the 21st century, going 14-6 in 2017 and 13-7 in 2005.
"This is a fun team to be on," Gibson said.
"I said it from day one of spring training, the talent here is incredible," McCann said. "The chemistry from the young guys who have been together is very apparent from the moment you walk in the clubhouse, and now they're learning how to win and win together. Every night's a different guy."
Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk’s Colton Cowser hit a leadoff home run, doubled in his next at-bat and hit a two-run shot in the fourth. Josh Lester belted his seventh homer in the second inning.
Drew Rom allowed two runs and seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts in five innings before a rain delay.