O's young starters learning prudence when attacking opposing lineups

TORONTO - The most important individual result from Dean Kremer’s stellar start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday wasn’t one of his six strikeouts. Nor was it a bases-loaded double play ball off the bat of Matt Chapman in the third inning.

It was the plate appearance before that, a five-pitch walk to Alejandro Kirk that set up that inning-ending double play. It was the only free pass issued by Kremer all night.

It showed the young righty knew who to attack and who to avoid, a recent point of emphasis from manager Brandon Hyde. 

“A handful of starts ago (Hyde) brought a couple of us starters into the office (to say), ‘Ok, where do we go from here now?’” said Kremer after tossing seven innings of two-run ball last night. “(It’s) another stepping stone in our development. We had a meeting about that, kind of realizing situation and who’s at the plate, where you can attack the lineup you’re facing.”

With the Orioles trailing by two runs, a base empty and one out, Kremer pitched around Kirk, avoiding the All-Star catcher in favor of Chapman, who hasn’t hit righties as well this season and is batting just .152 in the month of August.

Chapman’s twin killing got Kremer out of the jam. The O’s bats came alive a couple innings later en route to a 4-2 win.

“I’ve had some conversations with some of these guys about game management,” said Hyde before Wednesday’s series finale in Toronto. “I was fortunate to be around some veteran pitchers in Chicago that could really navigate through lineups and didn’t let certain people beat them and understood where their outs were and who they matched up with the best. So we talked a little bit about those types of things.”

Through the first two games of their three-game set in Toronto, the Orioles have maneuvered their way through one of the toughest lineups in the American League on the backs of two young starters – Kyle Bradish and Kremer. 

That doesn’t happen by accident. 

“It’s that next step of developing a winning pitching staff,” said righty Spenser Watkins, who will start Thursday's game against the Cubs at Camden Yards. “It’s picking and choosing your spots in a lineup where, maybe in that fourth inning there’s a big spot that comes up and you may want be able to attack a guy behind him versus that guy.

“That’s what good pitching staffs, good pitchers, good coaches do, they lead the guys to do that. So they’re starting to take initiative to do that to get us there.”

The O’s will send one of their more veteran starters to the mound Wednesday in search of a sweep. Austin Voth is coming off an outing in which he allowed just two runs over 5 ⅓ innings against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

With a win, Baltimore would hop Toronto in the AL wild card standings and finish their road trip with a winning record.

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Orioles lineup vs. Blue Jays

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