The pleasantries were held during batting practice two days ago. Andrew Cashner with football in sweaty hand standing behind the cage as former Orioles teammates gathered around him.
Today was about beating a friend. Not man-hugging him.
Today was about Asher Wojciechowski stating his case a lot louder to stay in a rotation that Cashner has vacated.
Announcing it from the top of the warehouse, the heat be damned.
Trey Mancini homered twice off Cashner within the first three innings and Wojciechowski became a strikeout machine who carried a no-hitter into the seventh as the Orioles defeated the Red Sox 5-0 before an announced crowd of 18,173 at Camden Yards.
Wojciechowski didn’t allow a hit until Rafael Devers’ leadoff double and the Orioles won their second series this month while improving to 31-67 overall and 15-36 at home.
Making his 15th major league start and fourth with the Orioles, Wojchiechowski reached his career high in strikeouts with eight through only 3 2/3 innings and followed up by disposing of J.D. Martinez to stay on his roll.
Brock Holt was the only player to reach base against him, on a hit by pitch and walk, before Devers lined an 0-2 changeup off the top of the right field fence to open the seventh. The crowd cheered Wojciechowski, who retired the next three batters while Paul Fry and Shawn Armstrong warmed.
Another ovation built as Wojciechowski walked to the dugout with his pitch count at 96. He’d settle for a one-hitter over 7 1/3 innings and the finest day of his career.
Manager Brandon Hyde let Wojciechowski face Christian Vázquez leading off the eighth and the result was a 10th strikeout. Jackie Bradley Jr. drew the second walk and Fry stranded him with two strikeouts.
The 7 1/3 innings matches Dylan Bundy on May 4 for longest outing by an Orioles starter this season.
The Orioles purchased Wojciechowski’s contract from the Indians on July 1, desperate to pad their starting depth and willing to take another look at him. Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias knew him from the Astros - one of the eight organizations to employ the former first-round pick.
Elias gave the Orioles seconds on Wojciechowski and he’s earning a longer stay in the rotation and on the pitching staff.
Mancini, playing in his 400th game today, has busted out of his slump with authority. He homered twice Wednesday night against the Nationals and today marked the seventh multi-homer game of his career. A solo shot in the first inning and two-run shot in the third, with Cashner failing to get a fastball and changeup past him.
In between was Chris Davis’ RBI double in the second after Dwight Smith Jr. drew a leadoff walk.
Mancini was 8-for-16 with three doubles, four home runs and seven RBIs in his last five games after the second ball reached the seats. Davis was 11-for-33 with two doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs in 11 games following his opposite-field double that also raised his average to .193.
He hasn’t been at .200 since the final game of the 2017 season.
Jonathan Villar led off the eighth with a home run off Heath Hembree to account for the final margin.
Cashner was charged with four runs and six hits in six innings and has allowed nine earned runs and 10 total in 11 innings with the Red Sox.
The Orioles were on the verge of having a combined perfect game thrown against them by the Rays last Sunday, with Hanser Alberto’s leadoff single in the ninth sparing them the embarrassment. Wojciechowski had a more modest goal after hitting Holt with two outs in the third.
Wojciechowski threw 95 pitches in 5 2/3 innings in his last start against the Nationals. He made it through the fifth today at 73, the last out coming after again getting ahead in the count and retiring Bradley on a liner to center field.
Holt drew a leadoff walk in the sixth and was erased on a 3-6 double play. Mookie Betts, who struck out in his first two at-bats, hit a soft liner at Alberto against the shift.
Eighty-five pitches in 96-degree heat and Wojciechowski was back in the dugout. He finally could cool down after throwing his 105th and again bathing in the crowd’s applause.
The same guy who didn’t pitch in the majors in 2015 and 2017 and opted out of his contract with Triple-A Norfolk last summer.
The six innings tied his career high set with the Reds on June 5, 2017 against the Cardinals. He has a new benchmark.
Less than 24 hours after allowing a season-high 17 runs, the Orioles registered their fourth shutout and won for the ninth time in their last 18 games. They posted their first one-hitter since the final game of the 115-loss 2018 season.
Because it’s baseball.
It won’t always make sense. And it can be especially cruel and kind to someone like Wojciechowski.
Update: The Orioles won their first series against the Red Sox since Aug. 25-27, 2017 in Boston. They were 0-8-2.
Today marked the 42nd one-hitter and ninth combined in Orioles history.
Hyde on what made Wojciechowski so good: “He had numerous pitches going today. Obviously, he had a really nice fastball that had a ton of life, but he had a really, really good slider to both right-handers and left-handers. Mixed in some changeups and some curveballs, too, so he had a four-pitch mix going. He was attacking their hitters. He punched out 10 against a good club, against a team that doesn’t expand very often. Just a great performance.”
Hyde on the swing-and-miss stuff: “I see a real tight slider that’s got depth and it’s sharp. He was able to throw it for a strike and start it in the zone and bury it. His fastball is 94 (mph), so it’s a pretty good mix. Today a few curveballs that were really good, a couple for strikeouts. The changeup has been giving him a little bit of a problem, he gave up a couple home runs on changeups, but today it was good. He had the mix going.”
Hyde on why Wojciechowski is having success now: “It’s opportunity. He’s coming here with the right mindset of give me the ball and I want to prove to people what I can do, and he’s going that.”
Hyde on Wojciechowski taking advantage of the opportunity: “That’s what we’ve been asking for this whole time. Talked about it the last four or five months. He’s laying it all out there and showed really good stuff today. It’s awesome.”
Hyde on team playing better: “I like the way we play. We’re definitely going to make mistakes and we’re short in some areas, but I like the energy we play with. I think we come to play every game. I think we have a really good clubhouse. I think guys turn the page over nights like last night. It’s 147 degrees outside and they’re able to suck it up and really play well. That’s not easy to play in that, by the way. That is hot. And for (Pedro) Severino to go out back there still under the weather and catch a shutout. Hats off to him. He sucked it up for us big time.
“We have our moments that aren’t real great, but I like the way we play. I think we play with energy and I think we play hard, so we give ourselves a chance.”
Hyde on Mancini: “Those were two great swings. Fastball down, homered right of center and smothers a changeup to left-center. Trey’s obviously got huge power and he’s got huge power in the big part of the field. When he’s staying in the middle part of the field good things happen. He took two great swings off Cashner.”
Hyde on whether there was a pitch count for Wojciechowski: “Not really. I was going to let him go. I’m obviously not going to break any records or anything. But he’s a veteran guy and it was going to be his moment for as long as he could go.”
Wojciechowski on start: “It felt great. It was just a great feeling to be out there and competing and executing pitches. Me and Sevie were on the same page. A day like that, when you’re throwing the pitches and they’re doing pretty much exactly what you want them to do, that’s what you dream for as a pitcher. It was just a good feeling. Body felt great, heat wasn’t too bad. Nice little breeze the first four innings. It wasn’t terrible. I definitely felt it getting hotter like the fifth, sixth and seventh inning and eighth inning, but yeah, just a great day, a great team win. Just a lot of fun today.”
Wojciechowski on when he noticed the zeros: “Every inning. That’s your goal as a pitcher, you put up a zero. You focus one pitch as a time, one hitter at a time, one inning at a time. Every time you put a zero up, it’s a victory. You try to do that throughout the game.”
Wojciechowski on whether he had superstitions: “It was pretty much the same, the same routine. Same guys would give me high fives, pat me on the back. I’m sitting in the tunnel underneath, in front of the fan to cool off. So I’m kind of away from the team the entire game anyway.”
Wojciechowski on the swings and misses: “It all stems off my fastball and the ride on my fastball. Being able to have good ride, good vertical ride on it. Then my slider was really sharp the first five innings, and my cutter was sharp as well. All three pitches were really sharp.”
Wojciechowski on his journey: “To be honest, I wrote the Orioles off last year when they didn’t give me a chance. The last thing I would think is to be back with the Orioles this year. I’m happy for the opportunity, I’m happy to be here and it was a great team win today.
“God works in mysterious ways. It’s crazy when you try to wrap your head around it, my career path and how it’s been. Eight different organizations. But it is what it is. I’m here now and I’m going to enjoy this one tonight and get back to work.”
Wojciechowski on his stuff: Best outing I’ve ever had in the big leagues. Its something to enjoy, also to look back, build upon and look at as a springboard.”
Mancini on hot streak: “Just feel comfortable and relaxed at the plate. That’s pretty much it. I’m not trying to do too much or thinking about hitting homers and my first at-bat today, he actually threw a good pitch inside and luckily I got my hands inside and got the barrel on the ball well and got it out. Second at-bat, he hung a changeup to me.
“It was weird facing Cash today, for sure, especially him leaving a week ago. It was a little strange. He did a great job with the exception of a few pitches today.”
Mancini on whether he communicated with Cashner: “Yeah, we texted after the game a little, so, yeah, we’re good friends. Like I said, it was weird facing him, especially after being his teammate for the last two years. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. Before he left, I was in the midst of my slump. He gave me some advice that really helped me out, too.”
Mancini on Wojciechowski: “It was so fun to play behind him and it looked amazing. The slider was wipeout all day. He’s throwing it hard and it had a lot of bite to it and kept a really good lineup off-balance and out of the comfort zone.
“He’s pounding the zone and he worked really quick, too. Us fielders really like that a lot. You like fast-paced games and you don’t like to be standing on the field for too long. He did such a good job pounding the zone, keeping them off-balance. He got some weak contact and let the defense make plays.”
Mancini on when he noticed no-hitter: “Right before the no-hitter didn’t exist anymore. I didn’t say anything. That’s how it usually works. I looked up and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, they haven’t gotten a hit yet.’ Then Devers promptly hit that ball off the wall. But like I said, Woj did such a good job today. It was really fun to watch.”
Cashner on outing: “I felt like I made two mistakes. Mancini is a good hitter and he made pretty good swings on both of those.”
Cashner on facing Orioles: “It was really odd. Other than that, it’s fun. You battle with those guys all year so it’s fun facing them. I just wish it could have been a night game.”
Cashner on Wojciechowski: “I saw him make one start. He’s got a pretty good breaking ball. You tip your cap on a day like today. He had it going on. He located down and away. I thought he got more calls than I did, but that’s the way it goes.”