Irvin shines again with latest gem in 7-0 win (updated)

The Orioles are close to testing the age-old baseball theory that teams never can have too much pitching.

Cole Irvin must wonder how he plays into the experiment.

Kyle Bradish is leaving his injury rehab assignment and starting for the Orioles next week. John Means makes his final rehab appearance on Sunday, which sets up his return.

The process of elimination could make Irvin vulnerable to a bullpen shift, but the timing would be peculiar given his recent dominance. A whole new meaning to leaving on a high note.

Irvin stated his case again today at high volume to be left alone. After tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings last weekend in Kansas City, he shut out the Athletics for seven in a 7-0 victory before an announced crowd of 28,364 at chilly and damp Camden Yards.

Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, Gunnar Henderson reached the flag court in right field in the seventh, and the Orioles (17-9) extended their sweepless streak to 100 consecutive regular season series. They have two shutouts in their last six games.

In the midst of another gem, Irvin was hit on the left middle finger by Brent Rooker’s comebacker leading off the seventh. That’s the unwanted solution. Head athletic trainer Brian Ebel came to the mound, Irvin threw a few warmup tosses, and he stayed in the game.

And the Orioles turned a 5-4-3 double play.

"The X-ray machine was fun today, being able to use the finger. That was kind of fun, that was different," Irvin said with a grin.

"All in all, I think it just hit the top and broke a blood vessel. Really feels fine now. I had plenty of pressure pushing down on the fastball and slider. Could command the pitches. I was expecting to go out in that eighth inning. I felt really good and confident."

Doing it against his former team didn't seem important. This wasn't a revenge game.

"It doesn't matter who's in the box," he said. "My process is to go out and execute as many pitches in a row as possible, and that focus is solely on me, right? So, I can control that."

Irvin’s seven innings are the most he’s thrown with the Orioles, exceeding his previous high set in Kansas City. He allowed four hits, walked none and struck out five.

It's also the longest start from the rotation this season. And Irvin is the first Orioles starter to work at least 6 2/3 scoreless innings in consecutive outings since Bradish in 2022.

"Pitching to both sides of the plate, a little bit better pitch mix," said manager Brandon Hyde. "I think a little bit more unpredictable with what's coming. The cutter in has been more effective. A better changeup his last two starts, also. But working ahead of hitters and attacking the strike zone."

Irvin retired the first 10 batters on 33 pitches before former Oriole Tyler Nevin lined a single up the middle. He struck out Rooker, who had the go-ahead double last night in the 10th, and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle made a leaping catch to rob Shea Langeliers.

A double play allowed Irvin to face only three batters in the fifth, and Esteury Ruiz was stranded in the sixth after a two-out single.

Irvin hit Abraham Toro with two outs in the seventh and JJ Bleday popped up. Irvin, at 89 pitches, walked off the mound to a standing ovation.

"That was unreal. How about that?" Henderson said.

"That was what you go out there and you look forward to. That was really awesome."

Irvin ran his scoreless streak to 14 1/3 counting the last two-thirds against the Twins on April 15. His ERA shrank to 3.49.

"I felt even in my start in Boston, just the focus on execution pitch to pitch and not getting caught up in results or pitches or shapes or anything," he said. "Just go out and execute pitches and the results will hopefully take care of themselves. But it's baseball, so you never know."

We'll soon know how the Orioles fit this many starters on a pitching staff.

"My job has been to just go out, take the ball and get outs. Execute pitches and get outs," Irvin said.

"Excited to have them back whenever that is. This is all about trying to execute pitches and keep our team in the game and do the right things by your teammates. Obviously, it's going to be a huge lift for us when they come back."

Oakland left-hander JP Sears tossed three perfect innings before Henderson’s leadoff single in the fourth. Henderson stole second base, making the Orioles 21-for-22, and he scored with two outs on Anthony Santander’s double down the left-field line.

Jordan Westburg grounded a changeup into left field for a 2-0 lead, Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit and James McCann lined a changeup into right field to increase the lead to 3-0.

A team held without a hit for three innings collected five in the fourth, including four in a row with two outs.

Sears struck out the first two batters in the fifth, and Rutschman and Mountcastle homered to left field on consecutive pitches. Rutschman’s ball traveled 416 feet at 106.1 mph off the bat. Mountcastle’s traveled 398 feet at 112.1 mph.

Jorge Mateo walked in the seventh and stole second base to improve the Orioles' success rate to 22-for-23. He broke for third base as Henderson launched a sweeper above the out-of-town scoreboard and forced Sears out of the game with the Orioles ahead 7-0.

"For me, I just kind of got settled in a little bit more," Henderson said of the sudden onslaught against Sears. "I feel like I was a little bit jumpy, trying to go get everything, but I feel like as a team we just kind of settled in and took our approaches and just put the bat on the ball."

Henderson has nine home runs and 22 RBIs this season. Today marked his latest assault on left-handed pitching.

"Honestly, just letting my instincts take over," said Henderson, the 14th Orioles in team history with at least nine home runs in the first 26 games. "I feel like I'm not trying to do too much. Just trying to get out there and put a good swing on the ball and swing at pitches I know I can do damage with."

* Jackson Holliday is leading off tonight and playing second base for Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles optioned Holliday yesterday after he went 2-for-34 with 18 strikeouts.

* Longtime Baltimore sportswriter and official scorer Jim Henneman threw out the ceremonial first pitch today, after the Orioles renamed the press box in his honor.

Henneman was surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and numerous other links to the Orioles past as he stood in the back of the press box and tried to speak through the tears.

“When this place opened, I’m ashamed to admit that I was still a smoker,” he said. “We didn’t smoke here. There’s a lounge back there about 50 feet away and we used to go and sneak a smoke. Somebody, I’m not sure who – Rick Vaughn was the PR director but I don’t think it was him – put a handmade sign up there and called it the ‘Jim Henneman Smoking Lounge.’ I was too embarrassed to ask them to take it down.

“Now here I am, in the best press box in baseball, in the ballpark that forever changed the game. And my name is on it. I can’t possibly express the feelings that I have right now. I can only hope that each and every one of you someday can have something like this give you the feelings that I have right now.

“It means the world to me.”

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