The Orioles played two games today in first-pitch temperatures of 51 and 57 degrees.
They also heated up.
A disappointing, defense-deficient loss in the opener was followed by a 4-2 victory over the Royals before an announced doubleheader crowd of 19,893 at Camden Yards, with left-hander Bruce Zimmermann notching his second quality start.
The Orioles improved to 11-17 by winning for the third time in four games. They wrap up the series at noon tomorrow, their third game in 24 hours.
Zimmermann allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. He retired 14 of 16 batters before Salvador Perez doubled in the sixth and scored on Hunter Dozier’s single.
The Baltimore native threw seven pitches in the first inning, eight in the third and nine in the fourth. The Royals scored a run during a 22-pitch second on Dozier’s leadoff triple and Whit Merrifield’s sacrifice fly.
Right fielder Tyler Nevin turned to his left while tracking Dozier’s ball, spun to the right and failed on a leaping attempt near the wall. He atoned in the fifth with an RBI single after Ramón Urías doubled with two outs.
Zimmermann retired nine in a row after Emmanuel Rivera’s single with one out in the second. Catcher MJ Melendez doubled with one out in the fifth and Zimmermann retired the next four.
Dozier’s single in the sixth cut the lead to 4-2. Keegan Akin replaced Zimmermann in the seventh with the left-hander at 85 pitches.
Jordan Lyles worked 7 1/3 innings in Game 1 and Zimmermann impressed, as well, after two rainouts messed with their schedules.
"That's the No. 1 goal for all of us starters is to have a quality start, go six innings, try to take pressure off the bullpen every single night," Zimmermann said. "Feeling really good about being able to go six innings today, after watching Lyles go (7 1/3). It helps when a team is aggressive, but feeling really good about the length I'm able to provide right now.
"Coming into this second full year, starting to feel really confident with a lot of the things we've been working on and seeing a lot of things come together. At this point it's about staying consistent. The one thing that I really want to do is be able to finish out games a little stronger right now. That's kind of the next step, I feel like."
Akin tossed two scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.96. Dillon Tate earned his fourth career save.
Zimmermann has allowed only four earned runs in 20 home innings. The starters have posted a 2.68 ERA at Camden Yards.
"Great starts (today)," said manager Brandon Hyde. "Doubleheader days, you're nervous going in because you don't know what your pitching's going to look like the next day. Both Jordan and Bruce did a great job giving us huge innings to keep us fresh and not to use the bullpen guys much before we have this long stretch of games in a row without a day off."
Austin Hays walked and doubled by the third inning, allowing him to reach base in nine consecutive plate appearances, the most since Cedric Mullins did it in 11 from June 4-6, 2021. Hays lined to left field in the fifth to end his streak.
"When he swings at strikes, like I've said a lot, he hits the ball hard," Hyde said. "Right now, I feel like he's a little bit more patient, he's getting in good counts, he's taking some walks. He's not trying to do too much. When Austin doesn't try to do too much, he's extremely dangerous because he hits the ball so hard, he's got so much power to both sides of the field. He can be a good hitter.
"That's what is just a little bit more control in the batter's box right now."
Royals left-hander Daniel Lynch struggled in the first inning, allowing the first four batters to reach and a sacrifice fly by Urías for a 3-0 lead.
Mullins and Trey Mancini singled, Mullins stole third base, Mancini took second on Melendez’s error, and a passed ball gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Hays walked and Ryan Mountcastle followed with an RBI single.
Mountcastle stole second base and jammed his right foot into the bag, rolling the ankle and bringing head athletic trainer Brian Ebel onto the field. Mountcastle jogged into left field to test it and stayed in the game.
"It didn't look real good on the replay, so we'll see how it is tomorrow," Hyde said. "Hopefully, he's OK."
Mancini’s single was his latest infield hit. An oddity for a player who won’t brag about his speed except in a kidding manner.
Chris Owings drew a career-high three walks from the bottom of the order.
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