Mike Baumann was a surprise starter last night. No one expected him to be the next link in the chain.
The past three starters worked a minimum of 8 2/3 innings, with Dean Kremer tossing his first career complete-game shutout Friday night. Twenty-seven years passed since the Orioles put together a streak of that length. Forty years since they did it in four consecutive games.
Baumann was making his second career start only because Tyler Wells went on the injured list Friday with right shoulder inflammation. Otherwise, Baumann would have sat in the bullpen and waited for his 15th appearance.
The Orioles used him to start Game 1 of a Sept. 5 doubleheader because Jordan Lyles had the stomach flu. Baumann lasted a career-high five innings. He went six innings with Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 31, a mark that manager Brandon Hyde would have celebrated last night with a fresh set of relievers.
“There’s going to have to be a lot of first-pitch swinging,” he quipped.
Baumann worked through the fourth inning in an 11-10 loss to the Astros. A seven-pitch fourth left his pitch count at 58.
The rotation’s ERA dropped to 4.31 before last night, 21st in the majors. The Orioles were last in 2021 with a 5.99 ERA.
“Both our catchers, Adley (Rutschman) and Robby (Chirinos), have done a great job with helping out our young pitchers and working well and calling great games and getting pitchers through innings and care. The whole package,” Hyde said.
“Our pitching group – Chris Holt, Darren Holmes, Ryan Klimek – they do a fantastic job. Ryan does a great job with the game planning and working with Adley between innings and talking with our pitchers going in. And Chris and Darren have done an outstanding job of improving our pitching staff and pitch shapes and all that stuff. So, really happy with the process and the communication flow and everything that’s going along with it.”
The Orioles haven’t strung together four starts of 8 2/3 innings or more since doing it twice in 1982. Jim Palmer, Dennis Martinez, Mike Flanagan and Palmer again on Aug. 31-Sept 4. Palmer, Sammy Stewart, Scott McGregor and Flanagan on April 30-May 3.
The late-summer streak ended with Martínez going five innings, the previous one with Martínez lasting 7 2/3.
I wrote yesterday that Palmer began the most recent stretch with a four-hit shutout in Toronto and ended it with a one-hit shutout at home against the Twins. Gary Gaetti singled with two outs in the fifth.
The Orioles won 3-0. Palmer walked pinch-hitter Randy Bush leading off the ninth. He stayed in the game, of course.
Palmer finished second in Cy Young Award voting. He had eight complete games. Before you gasp, he totaled 20 in 1971, 25 in 1975, 23 in 1976 and 22 in 1977.
The 1979 Orioles twice registered five consecutive starts with a minimum of 8 2/3 innings, in July and September, and the 1977 team had streaks of four and six, the earliest running from May 24-29 with Palmer, Ross Grimsley, Martínez, Rudy May, Palmer and Flanagan. All of them complete games.
It was a different time.
Grimsley lasted six innings on May 30 in Minnesota to end the streak.
* Rougned Odor had a two-run single and a home run last night. He also reached on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs in the seventh, popping up the ball and getting lucky.
The smile on his face as he looked toward the dugout confirmed that it didn’t go as planned, but he’d take it.
Odor has five RBIs in his last two games after collecting two in his previous 25 from Aug. 14-Sept. 17.
* Anthony Santander homered twice last night to give him 29, the most in the majors for a switch-hitter.
Santander’s three multi-homer games this season are tied with Ryan Mountcastle for the team lead.
In case you missed it last night, Santander is the first player in Orioles history to homer from both sides of the plate three times in the same game during a season. The last major league players to do it were the Diamondbacks’ Eduardo Escobar and Ketel Marte in 2019.