A closer look at Keegan Akin’s start, plus a trade note

Orioles lefty pitching prospect Keegan Akin threw a very strong game today against Toronto in Buffalo. In fact, he became just the third O’s starter on the year to not allow an earned run. He gave up two unearned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision.

The Orioles broke a five-game losing streak and avoided a four-game sweep and winless road trip. They beat Toronto 4-3 in 11 innings on RBI doubles by José Iglesias and Bryan Holaday in the 11th.

In the last of the 11th, Toronto scored one run and then the potential tying run was cut down at the plate to end the game. Rowdy Tellez doubled to right and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. tried to score from first. He was thrown out with right fielder Anthony Santander to Iglesias to catcher Chance Sisco.

That was how a losing streak ended this afternoon in Buffalo.

Right-hander César Valdez got the in relief. It’s his third major league win and first since July 25, 2017 with Toronto against Oakland.

Akin-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpgHere is an inning-by-inning look at Akin’s first major league start.

* Toronto first: Akin retired the Blue Jays 1-2-3, getting Cavan Biggio looking at a 93 mph fastball. He got Randal Grichuk to fly to left and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded out. Akin threw just 10 pitches and nine were fastballs, ranging from 93 to 95 mph. It was a nice start to his day.

* Toronto second: Akin needed 30 pitches and allowed a double and a walk, but he got out of it with a zero. He got Joe Panik to fly out to end the inning. It that frame, he threw 16 fastballs, nine sliders and five changeups.

* Toronto third: Akin recorded another 1-2-3 inning on 10 pitches. It was impressive, as the Orioles had been retired on just six pitches in the top of the third. So after his long second inning, Akin didn’t get much rest. But he was still sharp. Ryan Mountcastle helped, making a leaping catch in left to record the first out. Akin threw six fastballs, ranging again from 93 to 95 with three sliders and one changeup. He was at 50 pitches through three.

* Toronto fourth: Akin gave up a one-out double to Teoscar Hernández, but then picked him off second base to end another scoreless inning. Hernández hit a grounder up the first base line. Renato Núñez, playing well off the line, dove and it went off his glove for a two-base hit. But Akin kept his poise and put up another zero. He got Guerrero swinging at a changeup for the inning’s first out. He later fanned Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a 93 mph fastball for his sixth strikeout. In the fourth, he threw eight fastballs, five changeups and one slider. Through the fourth, Akin got 29 swings on his pitches and eight whiffs, with six coming on his fastball and two on his changeup.

* Toronto fifth: It started with a groundout when Akin induced Daniel Vogelbach to hit into the shift for a 4-3 out. But then he got ahead of catcher Danny Jansen 0-2 and 1-2, but walked him on 11 pitches. When Panik doubled to right, sending Jansen to third, Akin was pulled for righty Travis Lakins Sr. The Orioles should have gotten out of this inning without any runs scoring. But Alberto’s throwing error let in two runs.

Akin’s final line was 4 1/3 innings, three hits, two runs, both unearned, two walks and six strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Akin threw 49 fastballs, showing that pitch 60 percent of the time. His fastball averaged 93 mph and topped at 95.5 mph. He threw 19 sliders and 13 changeups. Toronto swung at 37 pitches and whiffed at nine of them, seven fastballs and two changeups.

It was a very solid start for Akin and now we look forward to the next one.

Another trade: The Orioles have, per various reports, traded reliever Miguel Castro to the New York Mets, the team they host tomorrow night at Camden Yards. The return is lefty minor league starting pitcher Kevin Smith and a player to be named later or cash.

Between high Single-A and Double-A in 2019, Smith went 8-7 with a 3.15 ERA over 23 starts and 117 innings. He walked 39, fanned 130, posted a 1.26 WHIP and .251 batting average against. He was rated as the Mets’ No. 12 prospect by both Baseball America and MLBPipeline.com.

Since July 29, the Orioles have traded Hector Velázquez, Richard Bleier, Tommy Milone, Mychal Givens and Castro for three top 20 prospects and six players to be named later.

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