ARLINGTON, Tex. – The Orioles starting rotation, which covered just 12 innings in three games at Boston to start the year, got another short start today. But this one had nothing to do with the pitcher’s performance.
Right-hander Kyle Bradish, who went 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA last season, took a line drive off his right foot. One-time O’s draft pick Jonan Heim drilled the comebacker at 104 mph. It knocked Bradish off his feet and out of this game. The ball was hit so hard it caromed to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle who recorded an out on the play.
Lefty reliever Danny Coulombe hurried into the game and faced a second and third, two outs situation. And he struck out lefty-hitting Brad Miller on a slider to keep the game 0-0 to end the second inning.
The O’s had big hopes this year for Bradish, in large part to his strong finish to the 2022 season. Over his last 13 starts of the year, beginning in late July, he went 3-3 with a 3.28 ERA. In his last eight starts, he threw four quality starts, going 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA and .500 OPS against.
In Boston, Opening Day starter Kyle Gibson’s five innings was the longest outing by the rotation, which allowed 20 hits and 15 runs over 12 innings. That forced the O’s bullpen to throw 13 2/3 innings in that series and they will be needed heavily again tonight.
Bradish, who pitched a 1-2-3 first with two strikeouts on sliders on just 11 pitches, seemed to have good stuff tonight. His final line shows 1 2/3 innings allowing one hit and no runs on one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 28 pitches, 17 for strikes.
Coulombe pitched through the third inning and Tyler Wells began the last of the fourth. Wells was the scheduled starting pitcher for the Orioles for tomorrow night. He could be replaced then by Opening Day starter Gibson, who would be pitching on regular rest. But then the O's would need a starter for Wednesday afternoon. Austin Voth could be a possibility, but he still could be needed in the series before that.
Now we wait for an update on the extent of this injury and what impact it will have on the Orioles rotation.
The O's took a 1-0 lead on Gunnar Henderson's solo homer in the fourth, a liner hit 107 off the bat that quickly left the field.
Injury updated: The Orioles announced that Bradish suffered a right foot contusion. Preliminary X-rays were negative for a fracture and he will undergo further evaluation and testing.
An improbable win: Not only did the Orioles pitch well tonight against a team that had scored 29 runs in a season-opening three-game sweep, they did it after losing Bradish in the second inning. But then three relievers teamed on the unexpected shutout to beat Texas 2-0 in front of 15,867 at Globe Life Field.
The O’s team ERA was 8.42 in the Boston series and they allowed 27 runs.
The O’s pitchers did this tonight against a previously unbeaten 3-0 Texas team that had scored all those runs in its series sweep of Philadelphia. The Rangers team batting line coming into tonight was .343/.407/.559/.966. They were leading the AL in runs and batting average and were second to the Orioles in team OPS.
But Wells came in and was outstanding.
He threw five nearly perfect no-hit innings, retiring 15 of 16 batters and the only man that reached against him reached on an error. He pitched four 1-2-3 innings and retired the last 11 in a row. He threw 47 pitches, 33 for strikes.
But manager Brandon Hyde still turned to closer Félix Bautista for the ninth. Bautista got a strikeout, strikeout and groundout to close out this amazing win.
The O’s 1-0 lead doubled when Jorge Mateo smoked a 433-foot homer to left center in the fifth for a 2-0 edge. He became the eighth different Oriole to homer this year and smashed a Jon Gray slider out of the yard for his first homer of 2023. Gray, who allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings, took the loss.
So the O’s get a great combined outing on the mound tonight to improve to 2-2 and drop Texas, off to its first 3-0 start since 2011, now to 3-1.
A few postgame quotes with more to come on this game in the morning entry.
Hyde on Wells: “Tyler Wells came to the park not thinking he was going to pitch, start tomorrow and to do what he did, that’s just absolutely amazing. Amazing performance. When that happened with Kyle, I had no idea what we were going to do at that point. We were already short in the bullpen going into today. For Tyler to volunteer, step up, total team guy, unbelievable character kid. Just awesome.”
Hyde, why bring in Bautista for the ninth?: “Think the factor was, you know it wasn’t like a normal low pitch count. For me, he came out of the eighth inning and there was a look on his face, probably could have come back out, not saying he could not have, but he absolutely did his job. Did it incredibly well and Tyler not knowing he would pitch today, to kind of extend him past five innings, that would be rolling the dice when I have a rested Bautista and a rested Cionel (Pérez).”
Henderson on his first hit and first homer of the year: “That felt great. Felt like I put in some good work in the cage today. Got my swing feeling pretty good and glad it showed today. Been working with the hitting coaches on one certain thing and feel like we got it squared away today."
Wells on his outing and the team coming together after Bradish went down: “I would say it was a pretty smooth night. I executed pitches and I got what I needed to do ... It isn’t just a pitching staff thing, it’s a team thing. It shows the camaraderie amongst the team. We never want to see a guy go down due to injury. It shows we are all in it for the same reason to win games. We want to pick each other up when someone goes down. It’s a good night as a team."