Orioles manager Brandon Hyde couldn’t care less about the Twins’ record, which would be tied for last in the AL East but puts them atop the AL Central. Instead, he pointed to Minnesota’s talented starting lineup, with players who could beat the Orioles on their own.
On Friday, they did just that. Through the opening three innings, the Twins’ bats took turns punishing Dean Kremer. Carlos Correa took the first shot, dribbling a cutter into center field on the first at-bat of the night. Royce Lewis scored him on a broken-bat line drive.
Kremer left a fastball in the heart of the zone in the second, and Joey Gallo hammered it over the right field wall. Max Kepler was awarded the same present an inning later, and Anthony Santander could only turn and watch, again, as it landed in the center field stands.
“Bottom line, I left some balls over the middle of the plate,” Kremer said.
After 89 pitches, Kremer headed back to the dugout, capping his shortest start since the Orioles’ second game of the season, a loss to the Boston Red Sox. Kremer allowed seven hits and seven runs and hit a batter in Baltimore’s 8-1 loss.
“We had a tough time in the first four innings executing pitches,” Hyde said.
The Orioles starter’s struggles were not limited to Friday night. He gave up five home runs in his last two appearances. This season, he’s given up 19 long bombs in 17 starts, tied with right-hander Tyler Wells for the most an Orioles pitcher has allowed.
“I’ve had a string of pretty good outings, a good amount of quality starts,” Kremer said. “I’ve had some hiccups along the way, but it’s a long season.”
Against the Mariners in his last start, Kremer was steady and gave up just five hits. Three pitches, a fastball and two sweepers above the zone, left the yard.
Gallo capitalized on a 94.7 mph fastball, while Kepler went all the way on an 88.1 mph cutter. Hyde said Kremer tried to go backdoor on some lefties but ended up leaving his pitches inside.
During Kremer’s brief stint, only two Minnesota players didn’t reach base. The seven runs were the most he’s given up since Sept. 23, 2020.
Meanwhile, the Twins’ Pablo López was relatively flawless. He struck out six batters, making the Orioles’ best bats, such as Santander, fall out of the box to try to make contact. Whenever Baltimore did, it was weak, leading to easy catches in the outfield.
“We didn’t have much of answer for him,” Hyde said.
As on most nights, Austin Hays, whose .314 average leads American League outfielders, gave the Orioles a spark. In the second, Hays boomeranged López’s 2-2 offering back at him, skipping it past second base. Ramón Urías and Anthony Bemboom walked, loading the bases and bringing Cedric Mullins up.
Mullins worked a walk in his first go but wasted no time in his second. He swung hard at López’s first offering, and Hays took off to home plate. Kepler settled for the easy catch in right field, though, halting the Orioles’ comeback.
There was no discussion about Mullins’ at-bat prior, Hyde said. “We like for them to be aggressive with the bases loaded.”
López retired the side in the third, fourth and fifth innings, while Byron Buxton added three insurance runs off a slam to left field against Bruce Zimmermann, who replaced Kremer. In the sixth inning, Adley Rutschman came up first for the Orioles.
Rutschman hadn’t let López get the best of him all night, making contact in every at-bat thus far. He fought López in this at-bat, fouling off twice with a 2-2 count.
Finally, López made a mistake. He left a changeup high in the zone, and Rutschman lofted it high toward right field. The ball barely bounced on the edge of the wall, enough to put Baltimore on the scoreboard and boost his case for an All-Star selection. But a win Friday night was already out of reach.
This article has been updated to correct Pablo López's name and the last time Dean Kremer's start lasted as short as in Friday's game.