PHOENIX - Kyle Bradish said it was the most nervous he's been in a major league game. It was the first time he pitched as a big leaguer in his home state of Arizona, first time he faced his boyhood team, the Diamondbacks, and the first time he had 70 family and friends in person hanging on his every pitch.
But the local (Arizona) kid made good. He got another win and so did the Orioles as Bradish allowed two runs over six innings in the Orioles' 7-3 win over Arizona.
“I didn’t think he had his best command tonight, honestly, or his best breaking ball," manager Brandon Hyde said of Bradish, who is 8-4 with a 2.28 ERA over his last 14 starts. "He’s just really tough to hit. Because it’s firm and it goes in different directions. To get through six innings, throw a bunch of pitches there, really happy about that. He competes."
Bradish was born in Peoria, just a few miles from Phoenix, and went to Millennium High School in Goodyear, about 20 miles west of Phoenix.
“I’ll be honest, that was probably the most nervous I’ve been," he said after picking up his 10th win. "Even more so than my debut, knowing I would have that many people out there. You want to go out and have a good game.
“There are not really words to describe what the feeling was pitching out there. It was awesome.”
Did he look around in game to see familiar faces behind the O's dugout?
“No, in game I was focused," Bradish said. "I didn’t really see anybody until after I got taken out and I was kind of looking beyond the dugout to see if I could see people. That was nice seeing their faces out there."
He got a standing ovation from behind the O's dugout when he walked off after his 107th pitch in the last of the sixth. His support group was now cheering him on.
“It was awesome. I got chills," said Bradish, clearly touched by the support he got at Chase Field Saturday night. "There were a lot of emotions going through."
The Orioles moved to 2 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay, which lost to Cleveland, by scoring six runs in the fourth inning. They had a season-high seven straight hits and Cedric Mullins' three-run homer gave the O's a 3-2 lead. The Orioles held that lead the rest of the game.
Here is the game story from last night.
Pérez on López’s return: Jorge López, who made the 2022 American League All-Star team while with the Orioles, is an Oriole again. The club claimed him on waivers Saturday afternoon from Miami.
The last 13 months have been eventful for the right-hander. The Orioles traded him to Minnesota Aug. 2, 2022 for four pitchers, including Yennier Cano. The Twins signed him to a new contract in January. The club placed him on the restricted list on June 8, in part for “mental health reasons.” The Twins reinstated him on July 4, but on July 26 traded him to Miami. He logged a 9.26 ERA in 12 games with the Marlins, and he was waived and now winds up an Oriole again.
He had not reported to the team yesterday, but should rejoin this club soon. There the bullpen pitchers will look quite different to him. There has been a lot of turnover since last he was with the team.
But one pitcher who knows López well is bullpen lefty Cionel Pérez. Like López, Pérez came from another organization and found success pitching as an Oriole.
“I think it is going to be something good for the team,” Pérez said Saturday in the Baltimore clubhouse through interpreter Brandon Quinones. “We’re really excited to have him back. I hope he just pitches some good innings, the way he did last year. That would be great.”
Pérez said López clicked with the Orioles in part because the players on the team became close with him.
“I think we saw just that. When you are not comfortable, maybe it doesn’t lead to the best results. Like he said himself, this really felt like home. The results were there, and hopefully he can do that all over again.
“We are one big family. No matter who is out there, we always feel like we have a good group of guys. Whether it is someone new or even some of the guys from last year, there are always some familiar faces. We really like our group back there and Lopie is a great guy, so we’re excited to have him back and join this group.”
López, acquired by the Orioles via waivers from Kansas City on Aug. 9, 2020, became an All-Star on their watch after struggling to pitch as a starter. In 2022 for the Orioles he pitched to a 1.68 ERA in the 'pen with a 0.972 WHIP and 10.1 strikeout rate in 44 games. He was named the Orioles’ lone All-Star after pitching to a 1.62 ERA with 17 saves in 40 games in the first half.
“To see him get to that level last year was great for him personally." Pérez said. "After he got traded, the results were not there the same way. Hopefully now as he comes back and he can find some of the success he did last year."