ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Orioles general manager Mike Elias has shown a knack for finding pitching on the open market.
While a new acquisition, Shintaro Fujinami, made his first appearance with the team Friday night, an old one, Kyle Bradish, put together another stellar start.
Their contributions on this night didn’t make a difference, as the Rays beat the Orioles 3-0, the offense managing just two hits against Tampa Bay starter Zach Eflin. The Orioles got on base only four times.
“He was definitely sharp tonight, using both sides of the plate,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They were getting balls down for strikes. They didn’t put any balls in the middle of the plate for us. We just had a tough time getting anything going.”
But Bradish, acquired from the Angels in 2019, showed once again why he was a smart pickup. He was just average in his first major league season, pitching to a 4.90 ERA in 117 2/3 innings, his outings limited by a monthlong stint on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. This year, Bradish has taken it up a notch.
He’s had just one poor start — a 2 1/3-inning outing in April when he gave up seven earned runs against Boston. Bradish has allowed one run or fewer in 11 of 18 starts. Lately, he’s only gotten better. Entering Friday’s game, Bradish had allowed just one run over his last 19 1/3 innings, allowing no runs against the Yankees and Marlins in that time frame. His fastball command has improved, and he’s utilized both of his breaking balls.
“I think it’s been a good little stretch,” Bradish said. “Just kind of out there pitching.”
He had anther strong start against the Rays, allowing two runs in six innings while striking out five. He relied, as he’s done all season, on his five-pitch mix. The Rays scored off him in the second on a RBI single and in the sixth when Isaac Paredes homered.
“It came down to two mistakes,” Bradish said. “Overall solid outing. Slider was a little inconsistent shape-wise, so that wasn’t great, but overall.”
Bradish, at 93 pitches, passed the ball off to Fujinami for the seventh. Fujinami joined the team Friday afternoon, traded from Oakland on Wednesday. Fujinami admitted prior to the game that he was nervous to be joining a first-place team, knowing there would be more eyes on him with Baltimore than he was used to.
His first pitch didn’t help those feelings. Jose Siri struck Fujinami’s high fastball 359 feet over the left field wall to extend the Rays’ lead to 3-0. Fujinami found his way back, though, showcasing his 100-plus mph fastball while getting Christian Bethancourt and Yandy Díaz to ground out. Fujinami then got Wander Franco swinging for his first strikeout for the Orioles.
“Got ambushed there that first pitch but after that, wow, I thought he had great stuff,” Hyde said.