More Orioles rotation talk and an update on tonight's game (O's win 13-4)

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Orioles rotation is taking its final spring turn before Opening Day.

Dean Kremer won’t get the ball again until he’s in Baltimore. He accumulated 3 2/3 innings tonight and allowed one run and three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Kremer was stretched out to 75 pitches, 46 for strikes.

Albert Suárez starts Thursday night against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, and Corbin Burnes starts Friday night against the Pirates in Sarasota. Chayce McDermott leaves minor league camp to start Saturday afternoon’s split-squad game against the Rays in Port Charlotte, and Tyler Wells starts Saturday night against the Blue Jays in Sarasota.

The exhibition finale is Sunday, with the Orioles playing the Twins in Fort Myers, and manager Brandon Hyde hasn’t revealed his starter. Meanwhile, Grayson Rodriguez hasn’t faced Grapefruit League hitters since Thursday in Bradenton, which indicates that he’s pitched on the back fields.

Maybe he gets the call on Sunday. Or maybe it’s Cole Irvin, who started yesterday in Dunedin. Julio Teheran started last Sunday’s split-squad game in Lakeland.

Kremer was the latest starter to exit and reappear under the relaxed rules. He threw 44 pitches in two innings, only 27 for strikes, and kept the Phillies scoreless despite two hits, a walk and catcher Adley Rutschman’s throwing error on an attempted pickoff at second base.

Kyle Schwarber led off the third with a walk, and he scored with two outs on Brandon Marsh’s triple. Kremer left with his pitch count at 64, including 38 strikes.

Back out for the fourth, Kremer retired the side in order with a big assist from first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, who made a diving stop near the line and flip to retire Kody Clemens for the final out. Kremer had his most efficient inning with 11 pitches, eight strikes.

Leave on a high note.

“I feel good,” said Kremer, who allowed seven runs and 15 hits in 16 exhibition innings. “I like the way things are trending currently, not only as the body gets going, but as well as stuff and executing pitches to certain locations and trying out new things. I’m really happy with the way things are trending.”

A normal spring training also can put a smile on Kremer’s face. A full slate following the pandemic, a shortened camp, the lockout and his participation in the World Baseball Classic.

“It’s definitely been different,” he said. “Not like any other year. Happy with the way this spring’s been going for not only myself but the whole team. It’s nice to get back into a routine.”

Wells apparently won’t have his innings limited early, which in theory would keep him fresher and available later in the season.

Hyde doesn’t seem concerned about Wells wearing down again. There’s no plan to manipulate his innings. And that’s fine with Wells, who wants the club to turn him loose.

Asked whether Wells is capable of being a big league starter for an entire season, Hyde said, “I hope so.”

“I love Tyler Wells,” Hyde said. “Amazing first half for us last year. He’s throwing the ball like that right now. I feel like he’s in good condition. I think those last couple years were kind of learning lessons a little bit from what it’s like to be a major league starter, and I think that he’s going to carry that into this year.

“Is he going to make 30 starts? I don’t know. But he’s throwing the ball really well right now and I know he’s got a little bit more knowledge of how he manages his body and health and all these things to be a starter for six months. We’ll see how long he can go. He was great for us in the first half last year and he looks the same right now.”

The Orioles will be careful with every pitcher right after breaking camp but they won’t go to extremes with the former Rule 5 pick.

“I’m just going to ride him, honestly,” Hyde said. “I’m not trying to save him, at least as I’m talking right now. I’m trying to have him pitch for us as long as possible in the rotation. We know what Tyler can do in our bullpen, how good he is and what he can do down there, as we’ve seen before. We know how good he can be in the rotation. We watched it for the first three months of the year. I’d love to see that longer. Now, how long that is, I don’t know, but I’m not going to try to manage it to have him pitch in the middle of September in the rotation if we don’t think he’s going to get there.”

* Youthful speed and hustle were on display again tonight.

Jackson Holliday beat out a hard one-hopper to Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette yesterday in Dunedin, and Gunnar Henderson collected an infield hit tonight on a first-inning ground ball to second baseman Bryson Stott, who made a sliding stop to his left.

Henderson crossed the bag ahead of the throw as Cedric Mullins moved to third base after his leadoff walk and Rutschman’s grounder.  

Mullins would bat again in the first. The Orioles sent 10 to the plate and led 5-0, with Phillies starter Taijuan Walker pulled after walking No. 7 hitter Ramón Urías.

By that time, Anthony Santander had slugged a three-run homer to center field, the ball slamming off the scoreboard, and Ryan O’Hearn hit his first homer of the spring on an opposite-field shot.

Jorge Mateo singled off reliever Konnor Ash to score Urías and stole his first base of the spring. He singled again in the fifth for his 11th hit in 34 at-bats.

Walker returned for the second inning and was greeted by Rutschman’s leadoff double and Henderson’s first home run, a monstrous shot to right field that he briefly admired.

As the ball landed and the Orioles led 7-0, Henderson was batting a robust .481 (13-for-27) with a 1.241 OPS in nine games. The oblique soreness that he first felt in January, and the media learned about a month later, seems so long ago that it’s easily forgotten.

Santander went 2-for-3 but is batting .171 with a .672 OPS. He has four home runs and nine RBIs.

“I feel good,” he said. “I feel healthy, I feel like the body’s getting back to getting into a rhythm to be able to play. I’m playing tomorrow, too, so feeling good.”

Santander also said he loves playing on a team with this much young talent, that’s so “full of energy.”

“I know any of those guys can help you win a lot of games,” he said.

Is Santander excited that Opening Day is approaching?

“I was excited since I got here,” he said.

* Former Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the fifth inning. And he wasn’t going against a bunch of minor leaguers who made the trip.

Facing the top of the order, he easily disposed of Schwarber, Trea Turner and Stott.

The early concerns about Kimbrel’s numbers are waning. He’s strung together four scoreless appearances in a row with only one hit allowed and six strikeouts.

Yennier Cano is going the opposite way. He’s followed three straight scoreless outings by allowing a run and three hits in an inning against the Braves and two runs and two hits with three walks tonight in two-thirds of an inning.

Hyde pulled Cano with two outs and the bases loaded.

Bryan Baker inherited the seventh and allowed one run and two hits with a walk. He was aided by a 4-6-3 double play and Kyle Stowers' sliding catch in left field.

* The Orioles defeated the Phillies 13-4 and are 20-5-2.

Mateo had an RBI double in the seventh to punctuate an outstanding night and raise his average to .343 with a .996 OPS.

“He’s had a really good spring training and he’s played everywhere,” Hyde said. “Jorgie adds an element to our team with the speed and the versatility defensively, and he’s swung the bat well this spring. I feel like he’s gotten a little bit better. We’re excited to have him. When he gets on base, he’s game-changing, like I’ve always said.”

Heston Kjerstad shattered his bat on an RBI single in the seventh and Tyler Nevin had a two-run double. The Orioles scored six times.

Nevin is 17-for-49 (.347) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. He’s also out of options.

“Tyler’s had a great camp,” Hyde said. “Played most days. Takes good at-bats. You look at Tyler’s Triple-A numbers, he’s hit. Hit really well in Triple-A last year. It’s a guy who can play multiple spots for you. He’s hit left-handed pitching in the past, and so far in camp he’s swung the bat extremely well.”

Hyde also said Santander has “worked on a lot of things this camp.” The stats aren’t important.

“I’m not worried about the results, honestly,” Hyde said. “He’s had a lot of at-bats on the back fields, also. It’s more about just him getting comfortable in the box, and it looked like he was comfortable tonight. I think he’s ready. A lot of our guys are ready right now and he’s one of them.”

Jacob Webb struck out three batters and hit one in the eighth.

Hyde downplayed the results of Cano’s last two outings.

“He’s going to give up ground balls and sometimes they’re going to go through,” Hyde said. “Most times they’re not going through. I’m not worried about Yennier. He’s throwing the ball fine.”

Hyde noticed early on that Kremer was kind of feeling for his pitches, but the stuff has ticked up.

“I thought he was just off the plate a little bit early, then he got better,” Hyde said. “Only allowed a run and made pitches when he had to. I thought his stuff was the best it’s been tonight.”

Kimbrel had his best outing. He’s “trending up,” Hyde said.

“Threw a really good two-strike changeup for a punchout against a big league hitter,” Hyde said about a pitch that Kimbrel rarely uses.


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