Kremer cruises, Rutschman rips RBI single, Orioles blank Rays 1-0 (updated)

Dean Kremer’s season was put on hold before it began, an oblique strain while warming during the opening series causing him to disappear from the bullpen, active roster and sight.

He wasn’t around much while rehabbing at the spring training complex and in the minors.

He isn’t leaving the rotation as long as he’s displaying improved command and confidence. Maybe get used to seeing him every five or six days.

Kremer shut out the Rays over six innings tonight, tying his career high, in the Orioles’ 1-0 victory at Camden Yards. Manager Brandon Hyde removed him at 82 pitches.

Adley Rutschman’s second single of the night in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Ryan Mountcastle, who doubled into the bullpen corner, and put the only run on the board.

Rutschman has reached base in eight straight games. He’s collected five hits in his last three games and 10 in his last eight.

"It was just a matter of time," Hyde said.

"I'm just going pitch to pitch, AB to AB, and trying to make adjustments as I go," Rutschman said. "As long as I can do that, I'm going to continue to get better and continue to work on my process."

"He's a special player," Kremer said. "Once his bat catches fire, he's probably one of the most fun to watch."

Jorge López recorded the last four outs, all on strikeouts, for his fifth multi-inning save and 10th overall.

Shane Baz blanked the Orioles through the sixth, striking out the side in his final inning. Calvin Faucher was summoned, and Rutschman delivered his first RBI in Baltimore.

Kremer held the Royals to one earned run in five innings on Sunday. He was supposed to face the Rays in relief in the third game of the season at Tropicana Field, but the injury sent him to the clubhouse and eventually the injured list.

The right-hander hadn’t completed the sixth since June 19, 2021 against Toronto. He hadn’t turned in a scoreless outing until tonight.

"That was the best I've seen him throw since, really, his debut in 2020," Hyde said. "Just from how aggressive he was with his fastball, I thought he used his cutter at appropriate times, I thought he had a really good changeup that he utilized. It was his third start after some rehab starts. He hadn't thrown more than five innings, he goes six. Really impressive."

The rotation certainly has room for Kremer, who replaced Spenser Watkins. Bruce Zimmermann was optioned yesterday, leaving the Orioles with four confirmed starters.

"Numbers-wise, that's probably one of my better outings of my career, other than my debut," Kremer said. "Just different approach coming into this year, especially after the injury.

"I think the injury is what made (my confidence) better. I know that sounds weird. I got time to reflect and had some downtime to myself and really kind of went from there."

Kremer’s next turn is Wednesday against the Nationals in Baltimore. He has a firm grip on it.

"Just a little bit more life to his fastball," Hyde said. "His presence is different on the mound. There's more confidence in what he's doing, and he's being really aggressive, which is what we're asking him to do. Because his stuff is really good.

"Last year, I though the game sped up on him and he would lose a ton of confidence on the mound and the stuff would deteriorate because of that. So far this year, three starts, he has kept his stuff throughout his outings. There's more poise on the mound with him right now, and aggressive. He throws 95 and has good stuff. Very encouraged."

Said Rutschman: "A guy like Dean, who's so analytical and such a hard worker, just to see the strides he's made, the way he goes about his business, the things he does before the game, before he ever steps on the mound, it's cool to see. Just a fun day to catch him out there."

Vidal Bruján singled with two outs in the third and Kremer got a called third strike on Yandy Díaz with his changeup. He struck out René Pinto with a 94 mph fastball before Bruján batted.

Kremer struck out Brett Phillips on a 95 mph fastball to end the fourth inning after Harold Ramírez walked. Randy Arozarena, an Orioles pest in the past, had grounded into a double play following Ji-Man Choi’s leadoff single.

A seven-pitch fifth left Kremer at 72, and he benefitted from two assists in the sixth, with Rutschman throwing out Bruján attempting to steal and Anthony Santander cutting down Ji-Man Choi trying to stretch a single into a double. A 10-pitch inning.

Santander returned today from the restricted list. He struck out three times and was hit by a pitch, busy again outside of Canada.

"Huge plays," Hyde said. "Great tag by Mateo twice."

Félix Bautista struck out the side in the seventh and retired Isaac Paredes leading off the eighth. López struck out Díaz with a 98 mph sinker to strand two runners in the eighth that he inherited from Cionel Pérez.

Baz, a former first-round draft pick of the Pirates, made his second start of the season and fifth of his career. He was exceptional, holding the Orioles to two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

Trey Mancini doubled off the center field fence in the first inning and was stranded. Baz hit Tyler Nevin leading off the third and struck out two of the next three batters. Rutschman led off the fifth with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and was stranded.

Nevin also was hit in the seventh after Brooks Raley replaced Faucher.

The Orioles seemed to catch the Rays at an opportune time with a number of injuries that shredded the usual lineup. Tampa Bay was missing Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Mike Zunino, Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot – the last two nursing a sore Achilles/calf and hamstring, respectively.

Margot pinch-hit with one out in the eighth and singled off Pérez to move Taylor Walls to second base. Bruján fanned on a 98.6 mph fastball, and Hyde brought in López.

Kiermaier is expected to play Saturday. Margot served as the designated hitter Thursday, but manager Kevin Cash is handling him with care.

The pitching has held up, but the runs are scarce. The Rays allowed eight of them, only three earned, in the three-game series in New York and were swept.

They couldn’t get a runner to third base tonight, and the Orioles improved to 29-37.

Notes: Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who hasn’t played since May 13 because of a hamstring injury, started a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League. Tides catcher Brett Cumberland has joined him.

Outfielder John Rhodes was reinstated from the injured list at High-A Aberdeen.

IronBirds catcher Connor Pavolony was hit by a pitch last night and fractured his left hand.

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