It’s exciting - thrilling, really - when a rookie gets his big chance and runs with it like Mike Baumann did last night. Nights like that can give Birdland hope that there may be more talents like Baumann still to come.
They hope the young talent comes crashing into Camden Yards like waves into the shoreline. And the waves keep coming. And coming.
It was before the game in the Orioles dugout when Baumann spoke with reporters and told us how excited he was to get the shot to make his major league debut. Hours later it would come.
“I just want to enjoy this moment,” Baumann said pregame. “I’ve worked my whole life for this. So, just kind of live it up in a big league stadium with great teammates. Just enjoy this moment.
“I feel ready. I feel excited. I’m ready to go out there and pitch.”
He was that. An outing of 3 2/3 innings for the right-hander, in which he allowed two hits and one unearned run. He threw 46 pitches, of which 25 were fastballs and 16 were sliders. His fastball topped at 95.3 mph.
Baumann became the fourth Oriole in team history to not allow an earned run in at least 3 2/3 innings of relief in his big league debut, and the first since Dennis Martínez on Sept. 14, 1976. He is the ninth Orioles reliever in club history to earn the win in his major league debut, and the first since Alberto Castillo on April 28, 2008.
“He was absolutely outstanding,” said O’s manager Brandon Hyde of Baumann. “I loved the aggressiveness in the strike zone. I like how he attacked hitters. I thought his fastball had a ton of life to it. Had him scheduled for two-to-three innings and he goes three-plus. Going 3 2/3, not giving up an earned run. I thought he flashed some good secondary stuff, as well. A couple good sliders, a couple good curveballs to add in there. But I just liked his aggressiveness in the strike zone, challenged hitters.
“His pitch count was way down. Forced the action, and he has enough on his fastball to get it by guys and get some weak contract. Really good first impression of Mike Baumann.”
Two of the biggest outs of the game recorded by O’s pitching last night both came with the bases loaded, four innings apart. Alexander Wells got the last batter he faced with the sacks full and two outs in the fourth, facing the dangerous Whit Merrifield, the Royals’ leadoff batter. The count went to 3-2 and Merrifield lined to left on a slider that he hit pretty good. But Wells got a big out and the Orioles still had a big lead at 6-2.
Much later in the game, right-hander Dillon Tate came on with Baltimore leading 7-2 in the eighth. But Kansas City had two on and two outs as he replaced Baumann. Tate got a grounder to short, but Jorge Mateo did not handle the ball cleanly and it went for an infield hit that loaded the bases. When third baseman Kelvin Gutiérrez, who had made several strong defensive plays last night, booted a grounder for an error, a run scored, the bases were still loaded and now the tying run was up.
Tate had basically gotten the third out twice already and now had to do it again. He did.
He faced pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn. He threw a changeup and got a swing and miss for strike one. A changeup again - same result and now 0-2. Then he fired a third straight changeup for a called third strike.
Tate can throw a fastball 96 or 97 mph to go with that changeup, which is some combination of pitches. I don’t care what his stats say or recent performances show. I see big talent here, and a pitcher with a great chance to be a key part of the next good O’s bullpen.
The Orioles are slowly but surely building some big arms for late-game innings. From Tate to Tanner Scott to Cole Sulser to Tyler Wells. Throw in Conner Greene, who has a big arm, and Triple-A right-hander Félix Bautista, who has been touching 100 mph. Baumann was part of that bullpen last night, but certainly his future could very well be as a key piece of the 2022 rotation. We could even see him get a start or two before this year is out.
In a year when there have been some disappointments for the young pitchers, hurlers like Keegan Akin, Zac Lowther, both Wellses and Baumann are trying to flip the script. Or at least give fans something to think about over the winter. The chance for better days.
Three rookies combined to get 8 2/3 innings’ worth of outs last night, and Tate, not that far removed from rookie status, got another key out.
Hays extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. During this span he is batting .373 (19-for-51) with 12 RBIs, eight extra-base hits and 10 runs. He has recorded an RBI in four straight games, tied for the second-longest streak of his career.
Mullins has the team homer lead and has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career. He is the first Oriole to homer in three consecutive games since Anthony Santander did so from Aug. 8-11. Mullins has an RBI in a career-high four straight games. Four of his past five home runs have come in the sixth inning or later, after he hit just seven of his 22 prior home runs in the sixth inning or later. Mullins has hit six homers his past 13 games and nine in his last 28.
O’s pitchers have held Kansas City to six runs in two games. The Royals scored 20 runs in three games over the weekend in taking two of three from the first-place Chicago White Sox.
3.2 IP, 0 ER-- Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 8, 2021
Big Mike gets the win in a rock-solid debut. pic.twitter.com/zZ8Y78k5Bx