ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The soft, dribbling ball to the side of the mound sent Kyle Bradish scurrying, only a handful of pitches into his start. The Orioles right-hander barehanded the ball and attempted to hurl a strike to first base, but Yandy Díaz beat out a single.

That was it. That was all the Tampa Bay Rays managed against Bradish or the Baltimore relievers who followed until a two-out single in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 5-0 win at Tropicana Field. In between those singles, the pitchers retired 26 consecutive batters, and they picked up their fifth shutout of the season.

“That was unreal,” shortstop Gunnar Henderson said.

“He’s an ace,” left-hander Danny Coulombe said of Bradish.

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“That was awesome,” manager Brandon Hyde said with a chuckle.

The Orioles broke out in their final two innings, with Henderson’s three-run home run in the ninth lessening the pressure of a tight game. But, through all those innings with a one-run lead, Bradish and Coulombe pitched as though they required no additional firepower.

“I feel like I’m still getting back to where I was last year,” said Bradish, who received a platelet-rich-plasma injection to aid the recovery of a UCL sprain this winter. “But I think every outing I keep progressing and learning how to read swings and kind of be on the same page as Rutsch [Adley Rutschman] and [James] McCann every time.”

This isn’t the first time this year Bradish has shown this level of dominance. Against the Chicago White Sox last month, Bradish tossed seven no-hit innings, but with his pitch count reaching triple digits, he didn’t get a chance to finish it. Hyde might have had a more difficult decision surrounding Bradish on Saturday if Díaz hadn’t beaten out a leadoff single to begin the game.

Any concern around the extra two days of rest Bradish received between starts vanished soon after the right-hander took the mound. After Díaz’s single, Bradish retired the next 18 Tampa Bay batters in order. He might’ve worked deeper into the game had he not thrown just 2 2/3 innings last week against the Rays, or if he hadn’t needed extra rest between his last start and Saturday.

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As it was, Bradish finished his outing at 88 pitches. He turned around a poor start against Tampa Bay by rebounding immediately against a lineup that gave him trouble a week ago. And, compared to the seven no-hit innings in Chicago, Bradish’s command was even better Saturday. He didn’t issue a walk.

“Health-wise, I think it [the extra rest] benefited me,” Bradish said. “I should’ve done that last outing, but it didn’t work that way. But we had a game plan and we executed it today.”

It’s a tricky assignment to start against the same team twice in a row. Left-hander Cole Irvin met the challenge in Friday’s win, and Bradish followed with his best outing of the season.

What’s perhaps more impressive than 18 straight retired hitters is Bradish didn’t allow a single ball to reach the outfield. He manufactured groundouts or pop-ups to go with his nine strikeouts, and his slider was particularly effective (forcing seven whiffs).

The first balls the Rays hit to the outfield came in the seventh, with flyouts to deep left field against Coulombe. But, as has been the case with this bullpen of late, the relievers have carried on the dominance of Baltimore’s starters.

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Coulombe’s two scoreless innings and left-hander Cionel Pérez’s ninth inning extended a stretch of 31 2/3 innings in which the Orioles bullpen has allowed just two runs.

Hyde said he didn’t expect to leave Coulombe in for two innings, but without right-handers Yennier Cano and Jacob Webb available Saturday, Coulombe was the best arm for the job. He lowered his ERA to 2.40.

“Just the way he can shape the ball, honestly, to righties and lefties,” Hyde said, “and the way he can use different types of breaking balls with confidence and competitiveness, he’s having a heck of a year.”

Before the game, Ryan O’Hearn was surprised to learn the Orioles had blasted the most home runs of any team this year. He pointed out that Baltimore’s batters aren’t swinging for the fences every plate appearance; their approach allows them to do damage, however, when the pitch is right.

Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson throws to first in front of Rays runner Yandy Díaz during the first inning. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

O’Hearn found that right pitch on a full count in the fourth inning. Right-hander Taj Bradley hung a splitter in the middle of the strike zone for O’Hearn to crush. Jordan Westburg added an all-important second run in the eighth with a triple that center fielder Jose Siri couldn’t corral in deep center.

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And then Henderson, for his 20th homer — and Baltimore’s 100th this year — throttled a sweeper inside off the plate to give the Orioles a commanding lead.

“It’s a testament to all of us getting more experience in the big leagues,” Henderson said. “We’re still, obviously, a pretty young team, somewhat. Just the experience, and I feel like we’re putting together some pretty good at-bats and obviously, the power’s coming with it.”

That made the task easier for Pérez. For Bradish and Coulombe, there was no such breathing room. They still pitched as though one run would be more than enough, combining to stifle the Rays besides one weak infield hit.


  • Outfielder Kyle Stowers exited the game in the sixth inning due to right wrist discomfort. Hyde said Stowers injured his wrist this week when diving for a ball against the Blue Jays, but Hyde doesn’t think Stowers will miss any time.
  • Right-hander Dean Kremer, on the 15-day injured list with a right triceps strain, will throw another bullpen session in the coming days. After that, the Orioles will decide whether Kremer is ready for a rehab assignment, Hyde said. General manager Mike Elias recently said Kremer could return by late June.