Cole Irvin understands his place on this team.

He knows the Orioles are chasing a playoff bid — he reads about it on subreddit after all — and that teams in the hunt can’t afford to take chances.

So Irvin gets why he was sent down just three weeks into the season, even if it stung. He wasn’t pitching well — he had given up 15 runs in three starts — and it’s part of the reality of having options.

He didn’t let it get to him either when, a month later, he was called up and sent back after getting only one out, not even getting a chance to show the improvements he had made since his last demotion.

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“It’s my job to be a pro and keep working no matter what level I’m at,” Irvin said Friday, adding later, “You can’t take it personally. It’s part of the job.”

On Saturday, Irvin got another chance. The Orioles gave him the start against the Royals, and this time he showed why the team traded for him last offseason.

Irvin had his best performance of the season, giving up just one run in 5 1/3 innings as the Orioles beat the Royals 6-1 for their third straight win. Irvin struck out five and walked none.

“It was extremely meaningful,” he said. “You don’t want to not perform well. To come out and give the team close to a quality effort and just keep the team in it, I think that’s really important.”

Irvin did so by going back to his strengths. When he was sent down two months ago, Irvin reflected on why he wasn’t pitching well. He noticed his changeup and sinker usage was down, the latter by significant margins.

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In April, Irvin didn’t throw his sinker more than 18% of the time in any of his starts. He even had one outing when he threw only three. On Saturday, he doubled his usage, throwing his sinker 40% of the time. The changeup came into play the second time through the order, and his mix overall was better.

And now, with a strong start behind him, Irvin has a chance to stick in the major leagues. With John Means facing setbacks in his recovery and Grayson Rodriguez in Triple-A for the foreseeable future, Irvin is the Orioles’ best option to fill the fifth rotation spot. The only other pitcher close to major league ready is top pitching prospect DL Hall, but he hasn’t thrown more than three innings in over a month.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if I see those guys again at some point,” Irvin said, referring to the Triple-A team. “I don’t want to, but knowing that my options have been used, I know how the season can go. It’s just about giving the team a quality effort every time I go out and focusing on the next start.”

Irvin got some help from the defense, which showed off for the 35,000 in attendance. In the first, with two on for the Royals, Anthony Santander made an inning-ending jumping catch at the wall.

“I definitely owe him one,” Irvin said. “It definitely calmed me down.”

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Austin Hicks then made a diving catch to end the second, and Adam Frazier earned style points by flipping it to Ryan O’Hearn to get a quick out in the third.

On offense, Gunnar Henderson, hitting leadoff for the first time this season, had a home run and a single. He’s 8-for-19 with three home runs in his last six games. Santander had three hits, including an RBI double in the first. Frazier added a home run.