Zimmermann: "There’s just endless amounts of positive notes that you can talk about with this team"

Bruce Zimmermann started Tuesday night for Triple-A Norfolk in the opening game of the International League championship series, was removed after only two innings and told not to pack his bags for the trip to Las Vegas.

Zimmermann is a pitcher, not a detective, but he figured it out.

The Orioles wanted the Baltimore native to stay available for a return to his hometown. Limit his innings and restrict his travel to the East Coast.

Informed last night that the Orioles were recalling him, Zimmermann had clearance to gather his belongings and walk through the clubhouse doors at Camden Yards. Leave his teammates behind as they tried to win a title, and join a club that’s celebrated two clinchings.

“It’s a little bit different, but it’s definitely a positive,” he said. “Feels good to be back up here and I know those guys are going to take care of business out in Vegas. Definitely going to have to try to find a way to get updates or something on them. It was a great season down there, and to watch these guys finish it off up here, to be able to come up and contribute and feel the environment of what’s going on and getting ready for the playoffs and everything, it’s great.”

Starter Kyle Gibson tossed five scoreless innings last night before Zimmermann replaced him. The Loyola Blakefield graduate didn’t allow a run in two innings and picked up the win.

Zimmermann hadn’t pitched for the Orioles since July 4 in the Bronx or at Camden Yards since June 30. He totaled six relief appearances, then kept track of the club’s quest for a playoff berth and division title. Thrilled from a distance.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “They started out hot and gutsy wins and close wins and a bunch of different guys contributing. The bullpen being amazing, the young talent on this team that I saw the past couple years come through and to see them make an immediate impact on this team. Gunnar (Henderson) having just an incredible rookie season. Westy (Jordan Westburg) picking up right where he left off in Norfolk here for the second half of the season. There’s just endless amounts of positive notes that you can talk about with this team.

“To see them start it, in the middle continue it, and to pull it off against the rest of the AL East - just a brutal division - to see them hold everyone off and to do it with 100 wins and to do it in style and to see the city come back alive and to see the stadium numbers come back, being from here, it’s awesome to see. But also, it’s awesome to be a part of it.”

Zimmermann allowed seven earned runs (eight total) with 15 hits in 11 1/3 innings with the Orioles. He registered a 4.42 ERA and 1.545 WHIP in 21 starts with Norfolk over 99 2/3 innings and put up some ugly numbers leading into the best-of-three series against Durham.

Also, some deceiving numbers. To hear Zimmermann tell it, you had to be there.

Fourteen runs scored against him in 9 1/3 innings in his last two regular season starts. He surrendered 24 hits.

“There was one start there that probably was the most unlucky game of baseball I’ve ever pitched in my life,” he said. “I think 90 percent of the hits I gave up were under 80 mph. So, it was just one of those where you kind of have to get by and go to the next one. But there were times where I was going short because they might need me up here, things like that. But every time they handed me the ball I was trying to pitch well.

“Stuff-wise, I feel like my stuff’s as good as it’s been all year, and that’s why I’m really happy to get up here and get an opportunity to show that. We were rolling at the end there, so it was more about finishing up that season and getting to the playoffs. Kind of like what the guys are doing here now, now that they’ve clinched and they can breathe a little bit. But I feel like my stuff is really good and I’m happy to be up here and hopefully get a chance to show that. And whatever happens in the playoffs, be ready to help contribute if they need me.”

* Gunnar Henderson scored his 100th run last night, becoming the fourth American League rookie since 2002 to reach that total.

Henderson joined the Yankees' Aaron Judge in 2017, the Angels' Mike Trout in 2012 and the Tigers' Austin Jackson in 2010.

He's the first Oriole with 100 runs scored since Jonathan Villar had 111 and Trey Mancini 106 in 2019.

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