The swing and the sound provided everything that Dean Kremer needed to know about Mickey Moniak’s at-bat leading off the top of the first inning.
Kremer stood motionless with his arm extended, eyes fixed on home plate, and waited for a new baseball. The one Moniak hit landed 408 feet away in the right-center field bleachers.
The inning must have felt like it was moving in slow motion. Kremer threw 31 pitches, his stay extended when Taylor Ward’s two-out ground ball at 105 mph slammed off Gunnar Henderson’s chest and rolled toward shortstop.
The overall damage to Kremer was minimal, with just the one run scoring. But the game within the game became how quickly he could dispose of the Angels and avoid a short outing after rookie Grayson Rodriguez lasted only 3 1/3 last night.
Kremer earned two wins. He came within a ground ball single of completing the sixth, lessening the strain on the bullpen, and the Orioles defeated the Angels 7-3 before an announced crowd of 13,244 at Camden Yards.
Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth after Jorge Mateo’s sacrifice fly, and the Orioles improved to 27-15. Kremer was charged with three runs and six hits with no walks in 5 2/3 and raised his record to 5-1. Bryan Baker let an inherited runner score on Gio Urshela’s single.
The pitch counts after the first were 11, 12, 11, 14 and 16 for a total of 95. The last produced a grounder from Matt Thaiss that eluded Henderson’s dive and Mateo’s attempted backhand, perhaps shielded by his third baseman.
"Struggled through the first and kind of escaped it, and tried to eat as many innings as I could after that because we had a long day for the bullpen yesterday," Kremer said.
Baker, in his team-leading 21st appearance, allowed back-to-back singles after Kremer left.
"Just kind of unlucky with that ground ball that went through in a bad spot for us," said manager Brandon Hyde. "After that first inning, I thought the pitch mix was fantastic. No walks on the night. No walks as a club on the night. That's outstanding. Loved the way he attacked hitters and changed speeds. Great job by Dean."
Cionel Pérez retired all six batters that he faced and Yennier Cano disposed of his three in the ninth. Cano hasn't allowed a run or walked a batter in 20 2/3 innings.
Kremer has registered victories in his last three starts with four runs allowed over 17 2/3 innings. His ERA is 4.94.
"The strike-throwing ability and working ahead in the count," Hyde said. "Building confidence, a couple good starts against really good teams, and I think he really turned the corner in Atlanta. Just the presence on the mound was different. The overall package of poise, and you could tell he was moving on to the next pitch, didn't let bad things get to him. Great focus, and just really preparing well now and learning how to be a pro."
Said Kremer: "Just kind of going back to capitalizing on what I did last year and trying to continue that."
A 4-3 lead expanded in the sixth inning when Tucker Davidson hit Adam Frazier and was then drilled on the lower leg by pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna’s 106.2 mph line drive. McKenna motored to second with a double in his first appearance since experiencing lower-back discomfort, and Mateo followed with a fly ball to center off Andrew Wantz.
Mountcastle, in only his second at-bat of the game, produced his ninth home run with a 433-foot shot into the bullpen.
Mateo answered back at an 0-for-19 slump, and a 4-for-41 May, with a run-scoring single in the fourth inning that removed Angels starter Chase Silseth. Mateo raced to third on Mountcastle’s broken-bat bloop double down the left field line and scored on Cedric Mullins’ ground ball for a 4-1 lead.
Mountcastle was hitless in his last 11 at-bats before tonight, when he didn't find his name on the lineup card.
"It was nice," he said. "I was just sitting on the bench and I thought I had a pretty decent day off. I was like, 'All right, I may need it.' My name got called in the fourth and I was like, 'All right, whatever, it is what it is.'
"I saw their guy's pitch count was going up and they were bringing a lefty out of the 'pen and it was a close game, so I wasn't super surprised."
Ryan O’Hearn tied the game in the second inning with his first home run as an Oriole, a two-out shot onto the flag court in right field. Henderson led off the fourth with a double and scored the go-ahead run one out later on Terrin Vavra’s single.
Henderson had a hit in a season-high four consecutive games.
O’Hearn was one and done, with Mountcastle batting for him in the fourth. But his brief appearance was impactful.
"It's huge," O'Hearn said. "I want to contribute, I want to help. Anytime I see my name is in the lineup, I get excited, get an opportunity to get out there make a positive impact on the game and help the team. It was only one AB tonight but I'll take it and pass the baton over to Mounty."
"We got a lot of production out of the No. 9 spot tonight," Hyde said. "Not by design, to be honest with you. I wasn't anticipating hitting Mounty that early in the game, but a couple things happened. I thought that was the right spot to use him there and he came through with a label double and a big homer for us."
Tonight marked the fifth time in club history that the Orioles had two players hit home runs in the ninth spot, and the first since catchers Chris Hoiles and Jeff Tackett on April 18, 1992 against the Tigers in Baltimore.
Mountcastle had three plate appearances hitting ninth before tonight and no starts.
"I don't think Mounty's probably batted in the nine hole much in his career, so pretty fun to have production like that," O'Hearn said. "Him and I were joking all night about the best nine hole duo in the league right now. But the most important thing is we got the win. Dean pitched great, he battled, and the bullpen pitched great, and we put up enough runs to win the game. And that's what matters."
Hyde doubled back and talked to O'Hearn after Mountcastle batted.
"I made sure I went up to him after and said, 'Great job,'" Hyde said. "That was just a matchup-based thing and where we were in the game and what I had on the bench. A couple guys not moving great on the field. I just wanted to make sure we had coverage there."
O'Hearn hadn't hit a home run at Camden Yards until tonight, and didn't hit one in the majors since May 13, 2022 with the Royals in Colorado.
"That felt really good, get the monkey off my back a little bit," he said. "Tonight was a good one."
Moniak has two home runs this season, both from the leadoff spot. The Angels have two leadoff home runs this season, both from Moniak.
It works either way.
Kremer retired nine in a row and 10 of 11 after Ward’s infield single in the first. Urshela led off the fifth with a double off the right field fence – Vavra had some difficulty tracking it before attempting a leaping catch – and he scored one out later on Zach Neto’s single.
The first two batters were retired in the sixth and Kremer was within sight of a quality start until Thaiss’ grounder found outfield grass.
The Orioles loaded the bases with two outs in a 24-minute first inning, but second baseman Luis Rengifo ranged behind the bag, made a backhand stop of Frazier’s grounder and flipped to Neto for the force.
They scored in every other inning through the sixth and were robbed of a run in the seventh when Mike Trout casually pulled back a fly ball from Austin Hays that was headed for the other side of the fence.
They also contained Shohei Ohtani, who went 0-for-4.
"He's a good player and he's always a tough at-bat," Kremer said. "He's got a good eye and he'll do damage on a pitch if you let him. I was just trying to stay out of the middle."
* A scoring change from Sunday’s game: Hays is awarded a hit in the ninth inning, rather than reaching on an error by Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes.
* Triple-A Norfolk left-hander DL Hall allowed two runs and two hits in three innings and was removed after 45 pitches (30 strikes). He walked one batter, struck out three and hit one.
Hall is on a weekly schedule for a de-load and a deliberate training period over the next several weeks. No issues with his health. Just a way to control his innings.
Dillon Tate followed Hall and allowed four runs and six hits in 1/3 of an inning and 27 pitches. Mychal Givens replaced him and left the bases loaded, and he retired all five batters faced.
Josh Lester hit his 10th home run. Daz Cameron hit a three-run walk-off homer.
Catcher Mark Kolozsvary homered for Double-A Bowie. Heston Kjerstad doubled and John Rhodes tripled.
Justin Armbruester was charged with three unearned runs in six innings and he didn’t walk a batter.
Jackson Holliday hit his third home run for High-A Aberdeen, a two-run shot in the first inning. He also doubled, tripled and drove in six runs by the fourth inning.
Single-A Delmarva’s Wyatt Cheney allowed one earned run and two total with two hits in four innings.