PHILADELPHIA — There was always bound to be a stumble during this surge for Kyle Bradish.
The Orioles right-hander entered Wednesday’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies on the back of 10 sublime performances. In those 10 starts, Bradish held a 2.25 ERA and established himself as Baltimore’s most reliable arm in an inexperienced rotation. His slider gained traction as one of baseball’s best and, as he turned in strong outings, the Orioles found themselves winning.
But an up-and-down performance from Bradish broke from his streak of high-level outings and played a part in the Orioles’ series-ending 6-4 defeat to the Phillies. He was great, then he struggled, then he rebounded and finally, in the seventh inning, a two-out blast spelled the end of Bradish’s night.
“It was kind of a tale of two stories,” catcher James McCann said. “There were instances where he was very dominant, and then there were instances where they fouled off a close pitch and then they hit the mistake.”
It also left the Orioles with a series loss at Citizens Bank Park despite a run differential of negative-two. They won Monday’s tight affair, dropped Tuesday’s matchup in walk-off fashion and then, by what felt like a large gap based on Baltimore’s narrow tendencies, couldn’t close a two-run deficit.
With the Tampa Bay Rays’ loss, the Orioles maintain a 1.5-game lead in the American League East, an edge they gained by winning three of four against the Rays to begin this road trip. But dropping the final two in Philadelphia puts additional focus on the two upcoming AL East series, as well as next week’s trade deadline.
“Any series loss is tough, but that one we were in every single game,” Bradish said. “Feel like that one’s on me. We put up four runs, and that should be enough to get a win.”
Bradish allowed five runs in his 6 2/3 innings — by the way he has pitched for much of this season, it was an uncharacteristic outing. Bradish hadn’t allowed five or more runs in a game since April 25, when the Boston Red Sox knocked him around for seven in 2 1/3 innings.
The regression Wednesday still featured a silver lining: He went deep into the game.
Bradish teetered in the third and fourth innings, allowing two runs in each. In the third, two walks, a single and a double from outfielder Jake Cave did the damage. Then J.T. Realmuto’s double in the fourth followed consecutive no-out singles, although double plays ended both frames before they grew larger.
From there, though, Bradish got back to his best. He retired nine straight batters and pushed into the seventh inning — the kind of start that, despite allowing more runs than he had in his previous 10 starts, still gave the Orioles a chance.
Then came the final batter he faced, Edmundo Sosa. In an 0-2 count with two outs, Bradish offered a fastball just off the outside corner, and Sosa leaped on it for a go-ahead solo homer.
“We had gone curveball, curveball, slider, and on the slider he shot a homer foul,” McCann said. “So we’re just trying to change the eye level, change the look. Maybe didn’t get it up high enough, didn’t get far enough out, whatever you want to say. He put a good swing on it, and tip your cap to him on that.”
Baltimore’s offense got off to a bright start when Adley Rutschman throttled a three-run shot off left-hander Ranger Suárez for his 200th career hit. Austin Hays’ seventh-inning single knotted the score at 4.
So Bradish was one pitch from getting through a scoreless seventh, preserving his outing despite not having his best command. But with Sosa’s homer, and then another run off left-hander Cionel Pérez out of the bullpen, Bradish’s evening takes a different hue. It wasn’t disastrous. The Orioles offense was within reach.
But Baltimore couldn’t recover and, for the first time in months, Bradish wasn’t at his best.