How can you not feel romantic about baseball?

Also, how can you not feel sick to your stomach?

How can you not love the rollicking atmosphere that filled Camden Yards on Friday night, with the Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies duking it out just as energetically as their warring fan bases, nearly equally split, in a sellout game?

And how can you not feel crushed — just absolutely flattened — to see Kyle Bradish leave a sensational duel after just 74 pitches, grimacing and complaining of pain in his throwing elbow?

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This is a wonderful sport and a cruel sport. Baseball can send you sailing on euphoria through a warm June night, then screech to a halt that will leave you with whiplash. The Orioles have had rough bumps in the road so far, losing John Means and Tyler Wells from the pitching staff already, but losing Bradish would take a lot of air out of the tires.

Watching the Orioles and Phillies in a taut thriller, there’s an impulse to find a way to time warp to the playoffs. The pre-series hype was as a World Series preview and, for 11 memorable innings, the billing seemed apt.

Two ace-caliber pitchers. Some of the most dangerous hitters in baseball. A riled-up Philly fan base rolling into town, getting pushback from Baltimore fans who have put up with years of stadium invasion. From the booming crack of Kyle Schwarber’s game-opening homer, the whole affair was absolutely electric.

For every Phillies cheer from the blue-and-red third base line, as when Adley Rutschman was called for an inning-ending strikeout, the Orioles faithful put their own voices into it, as when Bradish struck out Bryce Harper. Twice.

As Orioles outfielder Austin Hays put it: “It was like everything was riding on every pitch for both sides.” And baseball is never more fun than when every play matters, even in the dog days of June.

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Yes, the Orioles lost a 5-3 heartbreaker — one big swing by Alec Bohm to the deep center-left corner appeared to catch Hays a bit flat-footed after an hourlong delay. But that wasn’t the gut punch.

Since Bradish’s offseason issues with UCL soreness, the Sword of Damocles has been swinging ominously overhead. After a slow spring buildup, Bradish got through eight largely breathtaking starts with a 2.75 ERA. He hadn’t even given up a homer until Friday night through almost 40 innings.

We don’t yet know how serious Bradish’s elbow situation is, as manager Brandon Hyde curtly mentioned a need for more tests. But that is rarely a good sign. An even worse sign was the tomblike clubhouse, where the Orioles went about their postgame routines with little to no conversation. When asked about Bradish, Hays mentioned prayers — at this point, it might only be in the hands of a higher power.

The Orioles had just played in a scorcher, one that thousands of fans (even owner David Rubenstein) had waited through a rain delay to see conclude.

Before the tarp rolled out, Baltimore’s Anthony Santander had sent the crowd into a fit with a towering home run over the notorious left field wall. That drama was topped by Cedric Mullins, who darted toward home when he saw reliever Orion Kerkering throw wild.

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The most favorable bounce-back in baseball history, straight to catcher Rafael Marchán, was not enough to stop Mullins from sliding just past the tag in a play so bang-bang home plate umpire Charlie Ramos got it wrong on first blush.

Even when asked about the difficult result, Hyde replied, “Well, it was a heck of a game,” as if it was an honor just to be part of it.

“As a player, you dream of the games like that,” Hays added. “You play 162, but they’re not all like that.”

But for every come-up there is a deflating letdown. And nothing hits harder than possibly losing Bradish, the blossoming Baltimore ace.

He had been delivering well past his promise as one of four prospects the Orioles picked up in the 2019 deal for Dylan Bundy. He’s become a Cy Young contender who looked like he might be shaping up as the best pitcher in the rotation not named Corbin Burnes.

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That’s all on hold now. The Orioles’ big postseason ambitions feel shakier. They were already stretching on a six-man rotation after Means and Wells were lost for the year, and Dean Kremer still hasn’t come back from a triceps injury.

Baltimore has been acing “next man up” challenges this season, but there is no replacing Bradish if he misses major time, not even in the aggregate. And there’s more than half the season to go.

That’s the kick in the pants. Why now? It was just getting good.