DETROIT – Austin Hays wasn’t fooling around with a perfect game bid. Not today. Nip it in the bud.
Hays lined a double down the left field line on the first pitch from Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who didn’t allow an Orioles baserunner for 6 2/3 innings Sunday in Baltimore. Hays was stranded but also successful in his return from a bruised right finger.
James McCann homered off Rodriguez in the second, another shot at his former team. Rodriguez obviously was more vulnerable this afternoon in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
He just wasn’t beatable, and the Orioles couldn’t manufacture a 10th comeback win.
Rodriguez was removed after 5 2/3 innings and only one run allowed. Meanwhile, Dean Kremer surrendered a career-high 11 hits through the fifth, and the Orioles lost to the Tigers 7-4 at Comerica Park.
Game 2 starts at 5:10 p.m. with the Orioles at 17-9 and hoping for a split in Grayson Rodriguez’s fifth major league start.
Jorge Mateo hit a three-run homer off Mason Englert with two outs in the eighth, as the Orioles took more pleasure at digging into the Tigers bullpen. But Zach Short responded with a first-pitch home run off DL Hall in the bottom half of the inning, winning the battle of 27th men in the doubleheader.
Hall surrendered two runs and five hits in three innings, with one walk, seven strikeouts, a wild pitch and a balk. He threw 75 pitches, 49 for strikes.
"Try to take the positives," Hall said after making his return to the majors. "My feel for my off-speed and stuff was really good. Threw some good changeups. Just trying to work on getting the velocity back and tightening some things up with my mechanics and whatnot to get that back."
Hall allowed a leadoff single and was called for a balk in the sixth but struck out three batters with a fastball that topped out around 95 mph. Akil Baddoo had a check-swing single over shortstop with two outs in the seventh and scored on Matt Vierling’s fourth RBI of the day on a 100.1 mph ground ball that Ramón Urías couldn’t backhand down the line. Hall struck out three batters in a row in the eighth after the home run, a Jonathan Schoop double and Riley Greene walk.
The fastball velocity should sit in the mid-90s to satisfy Hall.
"As you can see, 92, especially down the middle, doesn't play," he said. "Just getting that back, I think, is going to be huge for me and a big step in the right direction."
The dip is a mixture of mechanics and the time missed in spring training with a lower-back injury.
"I think just kind of getting the strength back," Hall said. "I started back lifting weights. This past week was my first time lifting weights, so hopefully with that and just keep going with that, it will come back."
Hall can be encouraged by the seven strikeouts. He has the stuff. It's just about command and consistency, which would lower his pitch count.
"I'm super excited for this year," he said. "This year is one that I've really looked forward to just because my feel has been incredible this year, better than any years past. Just getting that strength back is going to be the big thing for me."
What manager Brandon Hyde saw today reminded him of spring training, after Hall was cleared to get into games.
"Short kind of ambushed him there for the homer, but not great swings," Hyde said. "The command needs to get a little better for me, but stuff is good."
Kremer was charged with five runs to tie his season high and has allowed nine runs and 18 hits in his last two starts over 10 2/3 innings after tossing 6 2/3 scoreless in D.C. His ERA is 6.67.
"So far, it's been frustrating," Kremer said. "I feel like my stuff is continuously getting better. Command of it also, as well, slowly getting better. Just got to find a way to miss more barrels."
McCann’s homer in the second cut the lead to 3-1. Rodriguez hadn’t allowed a run in 18 innings, and he struck out Mateo before McCann’s 419-footer to left-center field.
The Orioles didn’t have another hit until Ryan Mountcastle’s one-out single in the sixth. Anthony Santander doubled with two outs and Rodriguez exited.
Mountcastle and Santander each had two hits. Adley Rutschman pinch-hit for McCann in the eighth to maintain his streak of appearing in every game.
Kremer threw 27 pitches in a three-run first inning, with mostly soft contact against him.
Zach McKinstry led off with an infield hit down the third base line, 58.6 mph off the bat. He moved to third base on Greene’s fly ball to the left field fence and scored on Javier Báez’s looping single to center at 70.8 mph.
Spencer Torkelson walked, Baddoo reached on a two-out infield hit on a roller that Kremer couldn’t glove, and Vierling lined a two-run single into center field - this one more legitimate at 100.4 mph.
The hardest-hit ball was Jake Rogers’ 102.4 mph line drive to right fielder Ryan McKenna for the final out.
The three runs matched Detroit’s output in the first inning through their first 24 games.
"Frustrating day overall," Kremer said. "There was a decent amount of soft contact. Going back and looking over it, there was a lot of balls outside the zone just getting hit into the shallow part of the outfield. I don't know. We'll see.
"I only walked two guys. I did get behind some guys, but also got ahead of some guys and similar outcome. Kept the ball in the yard. That's a positive."
Vierling made a diving catch in right field in the third to rob Mountcastle - of course - after Hays’ one-out walk, and he produced another RBI in the bottom half of the inning on a double to left-center that scored Nick Maton for a 5-1 lead.
The ninth hit off Kremer was Short’s leadoff infield single in the fourth inning on another roller to the right side of the mound. Kremer was able to glove it but Short beat him to the bag, with Mountcastle waiting for a throw that didn’t come. Exit velocity: 49.3 mph.
A series of jabs were threatening to knock out Kremer, with the Tigers going 5-for-5 on balls hit 80 mph or lower.
Kremer had a scoreless fourth, allowed a single and walk to begin the fifth and escaped again. McCann threw out Vierling trying to steal.
"Didn't start off well," Hyde said. "First inning, McKinstry leads off the game, kind of a fister that, just out of our reach there, and then the Baddoo play at first base that cost us a couple runs. Bad pitch to Javy with two strikes that just needs to be buried. Even though it's a ball, it's not a ball to Javy. So that three-run first started off on a bad note.
"He went five, gave up some hard contact toward the end. Just didn't think he was commanding it like he wanted to."
Mateo came within a few feet of greeting Englert with a three-run homer in the sixth, the ball hooking foul down the left field line. Mateo walked to load the bases, but McCann fouled out. Too soon, Hyde said, to pinch-hit Rutschman.
The ball stayed straight for Mateo in the eighth, but the Orioles couldn’t bend the game’s direction in their favor.
They took one last shot at it in the ninth. Mountcastle represented the tying run with two outs against Alex Lange and struck out.
Here's the Game 2 lineup:
Austin Hays LF
Adley Rutschman C
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Anthony Santander RF
Jorge Mateo SS
James McCann DH
Gunnar Henderson 3B
Ryan McKenna CF
Joey Ortiz 2B
Grayson Rodriguez RHP