December 1, 2022

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O's ride 'different energy' to bounceback win 

4 min read
Mullins, Urías each launch two-run homers in monster six-run third inning
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BALTIMORE — On Tuesday night, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde issued a challenge of sorts, saying that his offense was too preoccupied trying to improve its dreary scoreboard numbers with one swing of the bat.

On Wednesday night, the O’s chased one important number — and responded emphatically. Baltimore tied a season high in runs en route to a 9-4 win over the Twins at Camden Yards.

“It energizes you,” said Trey Mancini, owner of his first-three hit game of the season — all infield singles. “It just brings a different energy, and I’d say we had that tonight. I think we did a good job of passing the baton.”

But the conflicting disappointment was that such an output was in part necessary, with No. 10-ranked prospect Kyle Bradish roughed up in his second start with the big league club. Especially disappointing was the manner in which it unfolded.

Spotted a six-run cushion to start the fourth inning — thanks to homers from Cedric Mullins and Ramón Urías on top of other rally-inducing hits — Bradish allowed the first four batters he faced to reach: a leadoff walk, a two-run homer to Carlos Correa, a four-pitch walk and a single.

The first two outs Bradish recorded that inning were flyouts that allowed a runner to advance, the second of which scored a run. The last out was a scorched single from Gilberto Celestino — only called an out because it struck Gary Sánchez running the bases. It was one of the six hard-hit balls (exit velocities north of 95 mph) he conceded on the night.

“I just lost command on my breaking balls. Wasn’t throwing strikes, and they were laying off it,” Bradish said. “ … Just kind of lost focus.”

It was a microcosmic inning for Bradish, coming of the long layoff of the O’s six-run bottom of the previous frame. Needing just 35 pitches for his first three innings, he required 35 in the fourth alone. Sixteen of those latter 35 pitches went for balls; on the night, Bradish threw just 38 of his 70 pitches for strikes.

More crucial than the results is the lesson Bradish can take away from Wednesday night, now fully entrenched in the Orioles’ rotation after being called up from Triple-A Norfolk. Having to sit through a long offensive inning, Bradish said he might have been able to do more to stay warm. That learning process will kick into high gear on Thursday, watching over video with pitching coaches Chirs Holt and Darren Holmes.

“His command was a little bit off that inning, for me. It kind of [ended] his night early,” Hyde said. “… I don’t know if it was the long sit that maybe derailed him a little bit, but the most important thing is he’s going to be pitching every five days. These are good learning experiences.”

And Bradish learned an equally valuable lesson on Wednesday night: the luxury of run support.

Baltimore teed off on former Oriole Dylan Bundy in order to pick up their rookie starter, tagging Bundy for nine runs on 11 hits and two walks across just 3 2/3 innings. Poetically, it was Bundy who the O’s sent to the Angels in 2020 in order to add Bradish and three other farmhands to their system.

But the manner in which the Orioles nicked Bundy was important. They homered multiple times at Camden Yards for the first time this season — the only time that’s occurred 12 games into the home slate. They fed off each other, drawing back-to-back walks immediately following Mullins’ homer to keep the rally alive — and then to punctuate it again with Urías’ blast to dead center.

“We all know what his offense can do,” Mancini said. “I believe in everybody in this lineup. But a lot of times, I think we put too much pressure on ourselves and have been pressing at times. If we can just kind of take a step back, relax a little bit — it’s a really good offense. And, tonight, we showed that we just trust the guy behind us to do the job if we don’t get the pitches to do it.”

Sitting idle in the Orioles’ dugout as the offense had lagged was a yet-to-be brandished home run chain. There was no invitation to pull it out in the first two contests against Minnesota — although it was bestowed upon Félix Bautista on Tuesday night after his 1 2/3 scoreless frames.

And then Mullins and Urías gave two reasons to do so.

“I’m into it,” Hyde said. “I’d love to see [it] a bunch more.”

It was emblematic of the good vibes that filled Camden Yards on Wednesday night — 24 hours after they were difficult to even try and manufacture.

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