For the fourth time since last Aug. 31, the Orioles will send out one of their young pitching prospects tonight for his first big league start. Lefty Zac Lowther, who has put together a very strong minor league resume for the club, will face Boston in the second of a four-game series.
When Keegan Akin made his first start last Aug. 31 on the road against Toronto, he allowed two unearned runs over 4 1/3 innings and the Orioles won 4-3 as he got a no-decision. On Sept. 6, 2020, Dean Kremer made his major league debut in a start and was the winning pitcher over the New York Yankees 5-1. Kremer allowed just one run and one hit over six innings. On Sept. 17 of last year, in the second game of a doubleheader, lefty Bruce Zimmermann allowed five runs and four hits in three innings in a 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay.
In the earlier outings, those three pitchers combined to go 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA, and the Orioles went 2-1 in those games. Over 13 1/3 innings, the trio combined to allow eight runs (six earned) on eight hits with six walks and 15 strikeouts.
Lowther made his big league debut with one scoreless inning April 25 versus Oakland. He pitched the ninth inning, allowing one hit and recording a strikeout to end the game. He fanned Matt Chapman to secure the O’s victory for his first career strikeout. At that time, he was the fourth Oriole to make his majors debut this season, and he became the 19,961st player to appear in a major league game.
In spring training on March 24, Lowther was impressive in an outing against Boston. He came on that day in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs and pitched out of that without allowing a run. He went on to throw three hitless and scoreless innings as the Red Sox went 0-for-8 against him.
Ranked as the Orioles’ No. 11 prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 19 via Baseball America, Lowther spent the entire 2019 season at Double-A Bowie, going 13-7 in 26 starts with a 2.55 ERA. He held opponents to a .197 batting average and yielded 3.8 walks and recorded 9.4 strikeouts per nine, pitching to a WHIP of 1.115. He was named a midseason and postseason Eastern League All-Star and a Baseball America Double-A All-Star.
For his O’s career on the farm, Lowther is 23-13 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.018 WHIP over 326 innings. He led all O’s minor leaguers in strikeouts in 2018 and 2019.
Right-hander Garrett Richards (1-2, 4.40 ERA) will make his seventh start and his third this season against Baltimore. He has thrown seven innings against the Orioles in those two games, allowing 10 hits and eight runs. On April 4 at Boston, the O’s got to him for seven hits and six runs over two innings.
Richards has thrown 28 2/3 innings, allowing 29 hits and just three homers with a 1.500 WHIP, allowing 9.1 hits per nine innings, walking 4.4 per nine with 9.1 strikeouts. Boston is 2-4 in his starts.
Boston (20-13) began today leading the AL East by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay. The Red Sox are 10-4 on the road, 8-4 in division games and 16-2 when they score four runs or more.
The Orioles (15-17) are 5-3 their last eight games and 10-9 over their last 19. They are 4-11 at home and 6-8 against the AL East.