Povich pushes past slow start in Orioles' 3-2 loss (updated)

The gut check came early tonight for Orioles rookie Cade Povich.

The first three Cleveland batters reached against him – a leadoff single on an 0-2 pitch, a walk after getting ahead 1-2 and José Ramírez’s run-scoring single that had fans grumbling and a manager wondering how he’d cover the rest of the game if Povich didn’t stick around.

The inning lasted 31 pitches, far from ideal, but Povich struck out Josh Naylor on a sweeper and David Fry on a changeup after a double steal. Will Brennan flied out and the Guardians settled for one run.

They scored again in the second and the Orioles tied the game again in the third. Ramírez led off the sixth with a homer to give him the last word.

Brandon Hyde got 5 2/3 innings and 95 pitches out of Povich. Much more than the kid appeared capable of offering back in the first. But the offense has scored four runs in the last three games. Much less than what it usually does.

The Orioles didn’t collect a hit after the third inning and began their homestand with a 3-2 loss to the Guardians before an announced crowd of 20,309 at Camden Yards.

A four-game losing streak is the longest of the season and lowers the Orioles’ record to 49-29. They’re two games behind the idle Yankees in the American League East.

Scott Barlow struck out the side in the ninth.

Povich was charged with three runs and seven hits, with one walk and five strikeouts. Ramírez’s homer came on a first-pitch cutter that left the bat at 109.8 mph and traveled 431 feet.

A respectable showing against a team that has the best record in the AL and has won six games in a row.

"For me, showed much better command this time out than his last start and I thought he threw the ball great," Hyde said. "After that first inning, got a chopper down the line for a run and then he just leaves a cutter there, too much of the plate to Ramírez for a solo homer. But scuffled a little bit there in the first inning, pitched out of some trouble and only gave up two runs the rest of his outing. I thought he did a great job."

"Just battle," Povich said. "The goal is always to try to get as deep into games as possible and it's one inning, so get past it and continue to try to get outs as quickly as possible."

The rotation doesn’t have a quality start in the last seven, but Povich came close. He retired 10 of 11 before Ramírez’s homer and 12 of 14 before Brennan’s single in the sixth. And in just his fourth major league outing.

"Pretty composed," Hyde said. "Doesn't get too up, too down. Hasn't seemed rattled in any way in these first four starts. Faced four pretty good teams - at Toronto, Atlanta, New York and then these guys. That's a tough way to enter the big leagues and he's shown really well."

Povich said he's getting more comfortable.

"I think today was one of the better command games that I've had," he said, "and also making those pitches competitive."

Heston Kjerstad saw two pitches from Tanner Bibee in his first two at-bats after the Orioles recalled him this afternoon, and he doubled and singled for his second career multi-hit game in the majors. The first was on Sept. 18, 2023.

Anthony Santander drew a walk against Hunter Gaddis with two outs in the eighth and Kjerstad flied out on the 13th pitch of the at-bat.

"Getting a couple hits the first two at-bats definitely makes you feel more comfortable, so great seeing him get off to that start with two big hits," Hyde said. "Took a great at-bat there late, too, fouling off a bunch of tough pitches and just missed one. So really good at-bats from him tonight.

"Nice to see him hit a line drive over the shortstop's head. He's just not a pull-side power guy. It's a unique swing but there's a lot of damage in there, and showed how he can really grind out an at-bat there in a really, really big spot. Just missed it, but he put together a great at-bat there."

Eight foul balls preceded the fly to center.

"I'm just trying to get the at-bat to the next guy, whether it's a walk or just keep battling and hopefully get a pitch and get a hit or something like that and get it to the guy behind me," he said. "It's a good at-bat, ran up his pitch count, but at the end of the day I want to walk or get on base and keep that inning going there in the eighth hopefully. Maybe put an extra run across the board or do something to help us get a little bit of momentum going into the ninth."

Ryan O’Hearn singled to tie the game in the first after Gunnar Henderson’s leadoff double extended his on-base streak to 31 games. Kjerstad doubled with two outs before Jordan Westburg struck out.

Kjerstad dived into the bag, stood up, looked at the dugout and was reminded of his sprinkler responsibilities. He’s been away for a while.

Doubles by Gabriel Arias and Bo Naylor, the bottom two hitters in the order, gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead in the second. But Povich retired the side in order in the third on nine pitches, getting two strikeouts with his sweeper, and Daniel Schneemann’s one-out triple in the fourth was harmless after Santander threw him out at the plate on Arias’ fly ball. Another nine-pitch inning.

"Amazing," Povich said of Santander's assist. "Backing up I saw the throw and I was surprised he was still on his way coming home."

"That wasn't from shallow right field, either," Hyde said. "That's a guy who can run a little bit. Big play in a big spot. Kind of feel like it gave us some momentum. We just couldn't get anything going offensively."

Santander had a game-tying sacrifice fly in the third after Adley Rutschman doubled and O’Hearn reached on an error by Naylor, who dropped a line drive at first base and couldn’t find the ball.

Bibee allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. He retired 10 of the last 11 batters, the only interruption James McCann’s third walk in 114 plate appearances this season.

"I thought we faced some pretty good arms the last three games, and it doesn't get much easier tomorrow," Hyde said when asked if his team is in a rut. "I thought we expanded the zone a little more than normal maybe there later in the game, but give them credit. They have a great bullpen and their starter's got really good stuff."

Cionel Pérez, Jacob Webb and Keegan Akin combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings and only one hit allowed. Akin struck out the side in the ninth.

"Really well-pitched game from both sides," Hyde said. "They have really good pitching and we just missed by one."

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