Irvin and bullpen combine on shutout, Cowser has more fountain fun (updated)

KANSAS CITY – Colton Cowser might chug a fountain drink later today with his postgame meal. Maybe crank up an old Fountains of Wayne tune. He’s got a theme going and should play it out before the team arrives in Anaheim later tonight.

Less than 16 hours after tossing a baseball over his head and into the fountain in left field, forgetting that closer Craig Kimbrel would want to keep it, Cowser launched a four-seamer from Royals starter Seth Lugo into the waterfall in right-center.

A stadium worker retrieved that one, as well, though it didn’t represent any sort of milestone. More like Cowser washing down a delicious irony.

"Did it get there?" Cowser asked. "I still feel terrible about what happened yesterday. I've apologized to Craig so much. But yeah, it's kind of funny, I guess. I don't think it's crazy funny, but put a good swing on it, so pretty proud of myself there."

Jordan Westburg followed Cowser’s third-inning blast with a home run to left that also would have splashed down if not for a fan in the top row of bleachers deflecting it with his hand. Not everyone was on board.

"Those were loud, too," said manager Brandon Hyde.

The back-to-back jacks gave Cole Irvin a lead that he held through 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and the bullpen toughened in the Orioles’ 5-0 victory that clinched a series win.

Irvin allowed four hits, walked two and struck out two in his longest outing with the Orioles, who improved to 14-7 and recorded their first shutout. They won four of six against Kansas City.

"That's definitely the best start he's had since we got him last year," Hyde said. "Just the way he changed, moved the ball around, pitched to contact. We played well defensively behind him. Working ahead in the count. That was probably his best changeup he's had since he's been here with me. It was a start we needed."

Anthony Santander tripled in the sixth and scored on Ryan Mountcastle’s double, and Westburg walked with the bases loaded for a 4-0 lead. Ramón Urías pinch-hit for Ryan O’Hearn in the ninth and scored Gunnar Henderson from third base on an infield single.

Unlike last night, the padding wasn’t crucial.

Danny Coulombe put runners on the corners with one out in the eighth and stranded them with consecutive strikeouts of Salvador Perez and pinch-hitter Nelson Velázquez. Dillon Tate worked around a two-out walk in the ninth.

"It was nice to see the bullpen lock it down there," Hyde said. "We have some guys kind of going in and out right now a little bit. Trying to find the right spots for guys and try to get some guys some confidence. Scuffling a little bit."

Irvin stranded two runners in a 20-pitch first, and threw only 11 each in the second and third while retiring the side in order. He disposed of nine straight before MJ Melendez’s two-out single in a 10-pitch fourth.

Back-to-back one-out singles in the fifth created a jam, but Irvin retired the next two batters. He walked off the mound as soon as Bobby Witt Jr. made contact, glancing back at the end without breaking stride as Anthony Santander caught the fly ball.

A walk in the sixth didn’t hurt Irvin, and he got a lineout and fly ball in the seventh before manager Brandon Hyde brought in Jacob Webb. Irvin turned in his longest start since Sept. 17, 2022 with Oakland.

"Refreshing," Irvin said. "It's nice. I know I'm capable of doing that every time I go out, so it's refreshing to be able to get a start under my belt to be able to get deep in that ballgame."

The game began with Irvin carrying a 6.75 ERA in three starts. He whittled it to 4.64 ERA.

"Just continuing focusing on my process," Irvin said. "Executing where pitches need to be ... just keeping the thought process simple. I've gotten really caught up in velocity and trying to do all that and today I was just like, throw all that out the door. Just execute as many pitches in a row as I could.

"I wasn't trying to dial it back. I was just like, whatever I have today is whatever I have today. It's all about this pitch and being able to execute. Just was one pitch at a time, man. I really had a simple approach."

Westburg led off the fifth with a triple, continuing his success with two strikes and putting him halfway to the cycle. Got the hard stuff out of the way. But Jackson Holliday lined to second baseman Adam Frazier at 96.2 mph off the bat, Henderson flied to shallow left and Hunter Renfroe made a diving catch in right to deny Adley Rutschman and keep the score 2-0.

Holliday went 0-for-3 and is 1-for-30 with 16 strikeouts to begin his major league career. He struck out looking with the bases loaded, one out and the count full in the sixth, and drew a five-pitch walk in the ninth.

On the defensive side, Holliday made a nice backhanded, skidding stop and flip in the bottom of the sixth to get the force at second base. The ball was 104.5 mph off the bat.

"I thought Jackson's play on Melendez was really good, that was a really quality play," Irvin said. "Almost got the double play there."

Henderson also struck out looking to end the sixth inning, on a pitch that actually missed low. Not a good weekend for plate umpires.

Cowser walked before Westburg did the same to score the run. He didn’t keep that ball and may never see the one that he drenched. If he got it back, he could wait for it to dry and autograph it.

Using a fountain pen, of course.

"That one deserved to stay down there after what happened yesterday," said Cowser, who put Kimbrel's 422nd save ball in a container of rice to remove some moisture.

"Figure I was trying my best to do whatever I can. It's drying up a little bit."

"We'd prefer him hitting one into the fountain instead of throwing one into the fountain," Hyde said. "Everybody noticed that right away."

* Austin Hays was unavailable today due to the calf soreness that forced him out of last night's game.

"We're going to kind of see how he is tomorrow'," Hyde said.

Hyde also explained why Grayson Rodriguez is pushed back a day and not starting until Tuesday night in Anaheim.

"Keep (Albert) Suárez on regular rest, give Grayson a couple extra days," he said.

* Kyle Bradish made his second rehab start today and his first with Triple-A Norfolk, and he was stretched out to 3 1/3 innings and 64 pitches. He allowed six hits, four runs, three walks and four strikeouts, surrendered a home run, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

Ryan McKenna hit a two-run homer in the second inning.

Dylan Beavers hit a three-run homer, his second, for Double-A Bowie. Samuel Basallo doubled as the designated hitter.

Kyle Brnovich allowed one hit and struck out eight batters in five shutout innings. He didn’t issue a walk and is sporting a 2.08 ERA.

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