Kyle Bradish struck out five batters in a row today, walked off the mound and went straight into workouts this week and a likely Game 1 start in the Division Series.
A planned short outing kept Bradish in his routine and on his roll. A last regular season reminder that he’s matured into an ace.
Bradish tossed two scoreless innings, the only baserunner on Rafael Devers’ walk. Four of the five strikeouts were produced with his sinker, the other his curveball. A nice side session in front of everyone at Camden Yards.
The rest of the game played out as a parade of relievers, seven of them in the Orioles’ sloppy 6-1 loss to the Red Sox before an announced crowd of 36,640. The total attendance for the season is 1,936,798, their highest since 2017.
The win total locks in at 101, tied for fourth-highest in franchise history. The Orioles went 49-32 at home, the third-best record in the ballpark's history.
"Only a couple teams have won 100 games this year and we're one of those," said manager Brandon Hyde, whose club faces the winner of the Tampa Bay-Texas wild card round in the Division Series. "Really proud of how we played for sixth months. We didn't play our best baseball game today, unfortunately, in the last (regular season) game in front of the home fans. But how well we played this year home and away, it's something to definitely be proud of."
"Very proud," Bradish said. "We knew what we had in spring training, so to go out there and do it, and more games to come, but 101 wins this year is pretty good."
The team came onto the field after the final out to salute fans who kept cheering as if it actually won. Players waved, clapped and raised their caps in the air.
"We want to make sure we recognize our great fan base and all the support they gave us this year, and fortunately we will be playing in front of them some more," Hyde said. "We're excited about that."
"I think the fans deserve to be here in October," said Anthony Santander.
Bradish lowered his ERA to 2.83. He didn’t allow a run in his last three starts over 16 innings.
"It was going to be two innings, one if it went long," Hyde said. "He threw the ball great. Happy with the amount of pitches he threw (32) and felt good coming out."
Bradish is the first qualifying Orioles starter with a sub-3.00 ERA since Mike Mussina's 2.54 in 1992. His 2.23 ERA in 13 home starts is the best single-season mark in Camden Yards history among pitchers with a minimum 70 innings.
"It was a fun season," he said. "Obviously, still got work to do, but just regular season, very fun. Don't try to look too much into stats but a fun season."
Five of the six runs against the Orioles today were unearned.
The Red Sox scored twice off Danny Coulombe in the third to take a 2-0 lead.
Coulombe didn’t cover first base on Enmanuel Valdez’s ground ball to first baseman Ryan O’Hearn leaving off the third. James McCann made a throwing error on a double steal. Gunnar Henderson couldn’t backhand Devers’ ground ball for another error. A messy inning.
Henderson moved to third base and committed another error in the seventh after Cionel Pérez walked the bases loaded with one out. Henderson charged Reese McGuire’s bouncer, the ball skipped under his glove and two runs scored.
Trevor Story and Wilyer Abreu had two-out RBI singles that increased the lead to 6-0. Yennier Cano finished the inning with a three-pitch strikeout.
A second shutout in three days was averted in the eighth when Adley Rutschman singled off John Schreiber to score McCann. Also an unearned run due to a passed ball.
The Orioles didn’t get a hit off Tanner Houck until Santander’s sharp single into center field with two outs in the sixth, enabling the crowd to finally come to life.
Valdez made a diving stop and throw to rob Cedric Mullins leading off the second inning, the closest that the Orioles came to a hit until Santander barreled a sinker.
Adam Frazier’s fly ball to center in the second was the last one to leave the infield.
The sixth ended with right fielder Alex Verdugo losing pinch-hitter Ryan Mountcastle’s line drive in the sun and reaching down to make the catch at the last instant. Mountcastle tilted back his head in disbelief, a familiar pose from the hard-luck first baseman.
Tyler Wells struck out three batters and walked one in the fourth. Shintaro Fujinami got away with a two-out walk and wild pitch in the fifth. DL Hall entered in the sixth and struck out three batters after Masataka Yoshida’s leadoff single.
He sat down and Pérez began to warm.
The game got out of hand.
Cole Irvin marked his return to the majors by retiring all six batters he faced.
Rather than having boxes in front of lockers, their belongings shipped home, the Orioles will return to the ballpark Tuesday for the first workout. They aren't done. The goodbyes can wait.
"Very excited," Bradish said. "It's been on my mind since we clinched. I'm very excited."
"Real excited," Santander said. "We had a really good year, we played hard the whole year long. It's time to take (one day) off and get back to work and come back stronger for the weekend."
How much are the Orioles built for the postseason?
"I mean, very," Bradish said. "Probably one of the most complete teams you're going to find, so it will be fun."
Note: A scoring change from yesterday has removed an RBI from Heston Kjerstad on his single in the seventh inning. Pablo Reyes is charged with an error that allowed Mountcastle to score.