Keegan Akin made his major league debut on Aug. 14, about three weeks ahead of Kremer. Bruce Zimmermann, the Ellicott City resident and newest arrival, is starting Game 2 of tonight’s doubleheader after the Orioles selected his contract from the alternate camp site.
It’s follow and be followed for Kremer, whose third career start this afternoon finally let him to face a team from outside New York.
The Rays aren’t much of a reward for a pitcher, given how they possess the third-best record in baseball. Zimmermann will find out later.
Kremer lacked the sharpness of his previous outings, failing to register a clean inning through the fifth, but he surrendered only one run and three hits. He gave the Orioles a chance.
Rays left-hander Blake Snell gave the Orioles fits until leaving in the sixth. They tied the game on Ryan Mountcastle’s two-out single to right field off Diego Castillo, but César Valdez surrendered his first two runs of the season in the seventh and the Orioles lost 3-1 at Camden Yards.
Game 2 begins in approximately 45 minutes.
Snell was removed after 73 pitches, limiting the Oriole to two hits over 5 1/3 innings. José Iglesias drew only his third walk of the season and Mountcastle lined a first-pitch 95 mph sinker into right field for his 20th RBI and a 1-1 tie.
A leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena came back to bite Valdez. Michael Perez doubled, Yoshi Tsutsugo grounded out to score Arozarena and Brandon Lowe followed with a sacrifice fly.
Second baseman Pat Valaika reached to his left for Tsutsugo’s grounder, looked home and took the out at first base.
Valdez hadn’t allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings before today.
“Unlike him, walking the leadoff guy in a tie game,” manager Brandon Hyde said in his Zoom conference call. “But he’s been perfect, if not almost perfect so far for us. I wasn’t expecting that to happen, to have a 0.00 ERA at the end of the season. But once the leadoff walk and out-in-front double, soft contact. He gives up a lot of soft contact and he was good after the double. He’s been great for us and he’ll bounce back.”
DJ Stewart and pinch-hitter Rio Ruiz drew walks off Castillo in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Chance Sisco grounded into a 5-6 force, with Joey Wendle ranging far to his left against the shift to make the backhanded stop and throw across his body.
Kremer survived a leadoff single in the first, but Austin Meadows’ leadoff walk in the second was problematic. Brett Phillips tripled with two outs after a fielder’s choice grounder and fly ball almost allowed Kremer to escape unharmed.
Meadows came out of the game with left oblique soreness.
Lowe walked with one out in the third and didn’t score. Kevin Kiermaier doubled with two outs in the fourth and didn’t score. Lowe drew a four-pitch walk with two outs in the fifth and didn’t score.
Willy Adames struck out for the third time and Kremer was finished after 95 pitches.
Adames was in a 2-for-35 slump with 23 strikeouts as Kremer headed back to the dugout.
Kremer walked three batters, struck out six and lowered his ERA to 1.69 in 16 innings. He’s allowed only one run in each of his three starts, becoming the first Orioles pitcher in history to do it without a previous appearance out of the bullpen.
“I would say that I didn’t have my best stuff today, but I really needed to compete,” Kremer said. “They put eight lefties in the lineup and one righty. It took me a while to get my breaking ball going. It’s a good thing I had my cutter to get me through, but it was definitely a day where I had to grind through each at-bat.
“I take two things. One that I can still compete no matter what I have that day, and two, I need to be able to make adjustments quicker.”
“Early on, I felt like he didn’t have his command, especially with his off-speed stuff,” Hyde said. “I thought he got better as the game went on. I thought he started utilizing his fastball a little bit more, got a little more aggressive. Only giving up one run in five innings, it’s a good lineup. Facing all left-handed hitters except one, it was a really nice start and he gave us a chance to win.”
Orioles starters have allowed one earned run or fewer in five of the last six games.
Snell tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Red Sox in his last start and he retired eight in a row today and 12 of 13 before Valaika’s leadoff walk in the sixth.
Mountcastle singled in the first, moved up on a wild pitch and was stranded. Valaika led off the third with a single and Hanser Alberto grounded into a double play. Valaika advanced in the sixth on Andrew Velazquez’s sacrifice bunt, moved to third on a ground ball and scored on Mountcastle’s single that raised the rookie’s average to .349 with a .972 OPS.
The loss dropped the Orioles to 22-28. They were four games behind the Indians, and tied with the Mariners, for the final playoff spot in the American League.
Zimmermann came out of the dugout around 7:15 p.m. and began his walk to the bullpen for warmups.
“I’m so excited for him,” Kremer said. “He works hard. We’re throwing partners during the season. So where he goes, I go, and I’m really excited for him to show what he’s got.”
Reliever Branden Kline was optioned to the alternate camp site to make roster space for Zimmermann.
The Rays are starting right-hander Trevor Richards.
The Game 2 lineup:
Cedric Mullins CF
DJ Stewart RF
Ryan Mountcastle 1B
Pedro Severino DH
Chance Sisco C
Hanser Alberto 2B
Rio Ruiz 3B
Austin Hays LF
Pat Valaika SS.
Bruce Zimmermann LHP