The bullpen was a bit shaken by having too many relievers stir last night, reaching the point where a utility infielder finally had to pitch. And the Orioles couldn’t provide any reinforcements this afternoon, instead subtracting Dillon Tate due to a hamstring injury and expanding their bench.
Dean Kremer was coming off his finest start and the Orioles were in dire need of a duplication this afternoon against the Red Sox, leaders in just about every offensive category in the majors, including runs, hits, doubles, RBIs, average and OPS.
The team responsible for his worst start in the majors last summer.
Back in the rotation after a brief pause, Kremer pitched into the sixth inning but was removed after back-to-back singles by Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Verdugo. Adam Plutko issued a four-pitch walk, struck out Xander Bogaerts and surrendered a two-run double to Rafael Devers. Kremer and the lead were gone.
Hunter Renfroe greeted Cole Sulser with a home run in the eighth inning and the Orioles lost 4-3 before an announced crowd of 10,274. They’re 15-19 overall and 4-13 at Camden Yards.
This is the third time that the Orioles have slipped four games below .500.
The Red Sox have won all six games in Baltimore and the teams play again Monday night.
Adam Ottavino hit Austin Hays leading off the eighth and Ryan Mountcastle’s two-out double reduced the lead to 4-3, but he was stranded at third base after a wild pitch. Mountcastle also had an RBI in the first inning.
DJ Stewart came out of the game after drawing his second walk with one out in the sixth inning, and in the middle of Mountcastle’s at-bat. Manager Brandon Hyde mentioned earlier that some of his position players also are banged up and Stewart is in the group.
Hyde said Stewart has a left hamstring strain, the same ailment that forced him on the injured list at the beginning of the season.
“He’s been playing a little beat up,” Hyde said, “and he kind of felt it when he went down the line in his first or second at-bat.”
Cedric Mullins hit a solo home run to break a tie in the fifth inning, his sixth of the season to equal Trey Mancini’s team-leading total and expand on his remarkable turnaround story. But Kremer faced two batters in the sixth and came out at 85 pitches.
Kremer is charged with three runs and five hits, with one walk and three strikeouts. He held the Mariners to one run and two hits over six innings in his last start in Seattle.
Working for Kremer was “my aggressiveness and then I had the secondary pitchers to kind of back up the fastball,” he said.
The glove was just as important to Kremer today as his arm. He knocked down Franchy Cordero’s liner up the middle in the fifth inning and recorded the out to prevent Bobby Dalbec from scoring after a double. Kevin Plawecki flied to left field and the game stayed tied.
The Red Sox were more ornery in Kremer’s final start in 2020, totaling seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings at Fenway Park.
The lessons continue for Kremer at the sport’s highest level.
“Obviously, the competition is harder, so you need to lock it in, you can’t take any breaks mentally or physically,” he said. “Our staff has been awesome. Every guy I’ve pretty much learned from, whether it’s a bullpen guy or starter guy or even position players.”
Kremer retired the first four batters today, striking out leadoff hitter Gonzalez with a 75 mph curveball and No. 2 hitter Verdugo on an 86 mph cutter. The same curveball to Devers in the second inning traveled 423 feet to center field with a 110.7 exit velocity per Statcast and tied the game.
Five of Devers’ eight home runs have come against the Orioles. Familiarity breeds hard contact.
“Encouraged by Dean’s start,” Hyde said. “Once again, I thought he threw the ball really well. I liked his aggressiveness with his fastball. That one homer to Devers there on a high off-speed pitch, but pitched really well after that, pitched into the sixth. ... I like the way he threw for five innings. Did a nice job.”
Devers lined a Plutko fastball into right-center field to give Boston the lead. Plutko induced two ground balls to strand two runners in scoring position, but eight of his 17 inherited have come home this season.
“Normally, he comes in and throws strikes and he’s done such a great job,” Hyde said. “I’m putting him in almost impossible spots. I need to let him start innings and give him a little bit of a breather. I feel like every time I bring him in is when we really need somebody to put the ball on the ground or pitch against the middle of their order just because he’s shown me that he can wiggle his way out of innings and does a nice job with that. Today was tough. Had two strikes on Devers and Devers beat him there on a high fastball. But big punchout of Bogaerts ... We still had a lot of game left and had opportunities, but when you get four hits you don’t expect to win the game.”
Paul Fry left the bases loaded in the seventh after the rally started with McKenna dropping a fly ball in right field. Rio Ruiz caught Bogaerts’ blistering 113.2 mph line drive and somehow managed to keep the glove on his hand.
Ruiz lined into a double play in the bottom half after reliever Josh Taylor walked Pedro Severino. The Orioles began the day ranked second in the majors to the Yankees in outs on the bases.
The Orioles led 1-0 in the first after two-out walks to Mancini and Stewart, the latter in nine pitches, and Mountcastle’s single up the middle.
Mountcastle has nine hits this month in eight games.
“Getting a couple hits is always nice, but just build up that confidence again and get back to where I want to be,” Mountcastle said. “I’m going to keep working hard and I feel like it’s starting to come into the game.”
His luck is changed, too. Balls are falling in that aren’t 100 mph-plus off the bat. Lazy flies are finding grass.
“I don’t know, maybe I’m living right. I’m not sure,” he said.
“It’s nice for those, especially with two strikes, a little dink and dunk is always encouraging.”
Galvis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-out single in the fourth and was stranded. He grounded out to end the eighth with Mountcastle 90 feet away from tying the game.