TAMPA — Kyle Bradish has accomplished many firsts so far in his career.
His first start, a six-inning affair, came in April 2022. He checked his first strikeout off later that night, and added his first shut out later that same year.
There’s one major thing, though, that he was still missing after 35 major league starts: his first AL East win. He was 0-9 with a 7.27 ERA in his previous attempts against divisional opponents.
That finally came on Tuesday, as the Orioles beat the Rays, the best team in baseball, 8-6 to open the two-game series. Baltimore has won three of its first four meetings against Tampa Bay this season.
“I don’t look too much into personal wins as long as the team is winning, but that one definitely feels good to get that first against an AL East opponent,” Bradish said.
It almost didn’t happen for Bradish. He exited the game after the fifth inning with Baltimore up by five, but the Orioles bullpen came close to blowing it an inning later. It took three relievers to get the three outs in the sixth, but not before they had given up a combined four runs to let the Rays within one. It was Adam Frazier who potentially saved the day, running well beyond the second base territory to make an inning-ending catch.
“With the Rays, a really good club and a great offense, no runs are enough,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We kind of helped them out there.”
The bullpen sorrows may haunt them another time. On this night, the box score will still print the Orioles on top, with Bradish as the winning pitcher.
Bradish started off strong, needing just 11 pitches to get through the first inning. He had four swinging strikeouts by the end of the second inning, three of which came from his slider. That slider was sharp for him all night — he was off the plate in his last outing but found the zone early with it this time.
Bradish found himself with some traffic in the third after he walked the first two runners. He rebounded, though, to strike out the next three. He got taxed in the fifth inning, allowing his two runs there.
It helped Bradish that the Orioles actually gave him run support, something that hasn’t happened too often for him. The Orioles have scored less than two runs in over half of Bradish’s starts this season. On Tuesday, they provided that support early, scoring four runs in the first and another two in the second off Rays’ starter Tyler Glasnow. Aaron Hicks, Anthony Santander and Ryan O’Hearn all hit home runs.
“It’s always huge to put pressure on a guy like that early in the game,” Hicks said. “We kept fighting, we kept getting in there and did what we had to win the game.”