Pitching again in the majors is the only proverbial carrot that pitcher Zac Lowther needs dangled in front of him. He didn’t get the call until Monday morning. His bags are unpacked but he doesn’t know if he’s in for an extended stay, especially after working 5 1/3 innings last night.
There actually was more to it for Lowther beyond just leaving the minors. He knew from what he observed from a distance and heard from teammates that the Orioles are having a blast, and he wants badly to be included in it.
The fear of missing out can gnaw at a guy.
“You kind of see as a whole how the team has been playing and it’s fun baseball, it’s a different energy,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t here, but you can just see it on the field. It’s like, ‘Hey, I want to be a part of that.’ It’s a little more motivation, but you really don’t need anymore motivation than, it’s the big leagues. But when you’ve got guys like (Kyle) Bradish, who have pitching really well down in Triple-A, getting a chance, and then Adley (Rutschman), you knew it was only a matter of time with those two.
“Just being able to get back here with them is great, because they’re good guys, I enjoy spending time with them, enjoy playing with them. It’s a lot of very positive things. You’ve got really good pitchers at Triple-A like Cody (Sedlock) and Nick Vespi, who finally got their chance and they did really good. It was just fun to see.
“The energy is there. They’re getting opportunities and making the most of it. The energy here is good. It’s like, ‘Let’s go, I want to be there.’”
Lowther won’t get to wear the home run chain or stand on base and make the binoculars gesture toward the dugout, but he’d like to have a good seat for it.
Dean Kremer is getting close to having one again.
Kremer has made three injury rehab starts and tossed nine scoreless innings with two hits, two walks and 18 strikeouts. He’s pitched twice with Norfolk, so Lowther can peel back the numbers and offer his opinion.
“He’s looking really good. It’s probably the best and most consistent I’ve seen him,” Lowther said.
“Everything’s working right now. He’s attacking guys, getting guys out really quick. I always saw him as a fastball-curveball guy, and now his changeup, his slider-cutter, whatever you want to call that pitch, everything’s coming together now. So, he’s got every weapon in his arsenal ready to go, and I think that’s his jumping point. It’ll be fun when he’s back up here.”
* The availability of Statcast data is changing the way many of us watch the game. It also is influencing our opinions on hits versus errors.
Trey Mancini reached on a line drive aimed directly at Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Devers didn’t have to move beyond raising his glove, and the ball caromed off it.
Back in the day, whenever that was, we’d just say it was hit hard but a major league third baseman needs to catch it.
What about when we read that the exit velocity was 110.8 mph? When we’re able to attach a number to “hit hard?”
Devers might have been acting more in self-defense than playing poor defense.
The ruling is under appeal. The Orioles had a scoring change a few days ago with Austin Hays awarded a hit on May 23 in New York and an error removed from Anthony Rizzo.
* A play that probably went unnoticed by lots of fans in Game 2, or was soon forgotten, stayed with me long after the final out, postgame interviews and cab ride back to the hotel. It won’t show up in the box score, but it was just so skilled.
The Red Sox had the leadoff hitter on base while trailing 4-1 after Bobby Dalbec reached on an error. Jorge López bounced a pitch that, in other seasons, would have advanced the runner.
Adley Rutschman quickly turned his mitt with palm pointed up as the ball dived into the dirt, the proper way to do it. He shifted to his right, let it deflect off the inside of his leg and hustled to retrieve it as Dalbec held at first.
How many times have we seen that ball roll to the backstop or too far from the catcher and be scored a wild pitch? I’ll spare you the roll call of offenders.
I can’t count that high with my public school education.
Seriously though, it was an impressive move by baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and López recorded the save.
Scouts loved Rutschman’s defense so much that many of them thought he was major league ready by the draft. He’s going to be fun to watch behind the plate. It isn’t just about his hitting.
* The Orioles came away from the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft with three pitchers, two via selections and one in a trade. They used the first pick on Nolan Hoffman, snatching him from the Mariners organization, and grabbed Cole Uvila from the Rangers in the second round.
They didn’t pick in the third round, but traded for Tommy Wilson, formerly of the Mets organization before Seattle chose him. The deal involved cash considerations.
Uvila, 28, has been the best find with a 1.06 ERA, 0.882 WHIP and four saves in 15 relief appearances with Norfolk. He's allowed two earned runs and seven hits with 19 strikeouts in 17 innings, the only issue being his eight walks.
Hoffman, 24, made 12 relief appearances with Double-A Bowie and registered a 3.86 ERA and 1.286 WHIP in 16 1/3 innings before going on the seven-day injured list yesterday.
What happened to Wilson, the son of actor Thomas F. Wilson, famously known for portraying Biff Tannen in the “Back to the Future” films?
Wilson hasn’t unleashed a pitch this season in an actual game. He’s been on Bowie’s injured list with a right shoulder ailment sustained in camp, and he’s rehabbing and throwing to hitters at the spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla.
The Orioles hope he can begin playing in games in Sarasota within the next few weeks and eventually get to the Eastern League after he’s built up.