WASHINGTON – When it was over, right-hander Dean Kremer said what everyone must have thought about his start to the 2023 season.
As the Orioles pitcher took the mound in Washington last night, the same night that demoted starter Cole Irvin was pitching at Triple-A, Kremer’s ERA stood at 9.49.
“Of course there are frustrations, anytime you come out on the bottom side and you see your ERA blow up,” he said.
For the first time this year he did something about it last night. Or maybe we should say for the first time he got the results he was looking for, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless on four singles as the Orioles held on to beat Washington 1-0.
The Orioles were averaging nearly six runs per game coming into this series, but you can’t outslug teams every night.
Kremer gave the club it’s first scoreless start other than the Kyle Bradish outing where he got injured in the second inning at Texas. It was just the Orioles third quality start and just their fourth game of six innings or more by a starter. All very much needed – both for pitcher and team.
“I think he did pitch frustrated honestly,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Kremer’s first three games, which included a 1.78 WHIP and 1.083 OPS against. “Think he was frustrated with his first start in Boston and then the start against New York didn’t go his way. That kind of carried into his last start. But I think he just did a great job of separating and moving on. Showed some maturity in that way. Our pitching guys have done a great job with him, understanding what he does really, really well. I think his pitch usage was a little bit different tonight and it really paid off for him.”
Kremer had thrown first-pitch strikes to 60 percent of the batters this year before this game. Then he did that with 21 of 25 batters (84 percent) against the Nats.
“It definitely helps for the confidence to kind of continue what I did last year,” he said.
It was the Orioles second shutout of the season – they beat Texas 2-0 April 3.
Baltimore pitchers produced 15 shutouts in 2022, the fifth-most in the AL and tied for seventh-most in MLB. The 15 shutouts marked Baltimore’s most since the 1992 team had 16. The single-season franchise record is 21 shutouts in 1961. The Orioles had just 11 total shutouts in 384 games from 2019-21.
Cano throws another strong inning: Reliever Yennier Cano, who had an ERA of 11.50 in 18 innings last season between the Twins and Orioles, joined the Orioles for the series against Chicago over the weekend. He threw 2 2/3 scoreless in that series and Hyde has suddenly turned to him for high-leverage relief.
He needed just nine pitches to get three quick outs in the eighth last night. He used his two-seam sinker on eight of nine pitches, averaging 94.3 mph on the pitch and getting two whiffs on five swings against the pitch.
“It’s hard not to (use him in big spots),” Hyde said. “He’s throwing bowling balls up there, so I’m going to take my chances. That was a quick inning too. They haven’t taken good swings off him yet.”
Added Cano: “I think, not only for the team but for myself it’s been very exciting and great to see my sinker working that way. Anytime I can get that going to help the team win, it’s great.
“I think just coming in with a different mindset (this year). Last year was my first year in the bigs, so coming in this year with more experience and feeling a lot more comfortable. Having that pitch where I feel a lot more comfortable throwing it has made a difference for me.”
Cano, 29, a Cuban native, pitched three scoreless with Triple-A Norfolk before he got the call to join the Orioles over the weekend.
“Coming out of spring training I had a good feeling,” he said with translating help from the O’s Brandon Quinones. “I felt like I was doing good things and I was just waiting for the opportunity. Waiting for the team to call me and you know give me the opportunity, kind of like a last chance in a sense. They gave me the opportunity and I’m thankful for that.”
The Orioles are now 6-0 in series-opening games. A win tomorrow would put them four games over the .500 mark for the first time this year and they would improve to 4-2 in six series to start the 2023 season.
The Orioles lead the all-time series 52-39 versus the Nationals and are 25-21 in road games in the series.
The Baltimore bullpen has thrown 6 1/3 scoreless the past two games and has an ERA of 1.45 the last five games.
Hyde said after last night's game that tonight's starter, which seems likely to be righty Kyle Bradish, would not be named until sometime this morning.