Dean Kremer showed Sunday why he was tasked with starting Israel’s World Baseball Classic opener.
The Orioles right-hander pitched four shutout innings in Israel’s 3-1 win over Nicaragua at LoanDepot Park in Miami. Kremer allowed three hits and one walk while striking out four. He threw just 49 pitches, 32 for strikes.
Kremer retired the side in order in the first and fourth innings and stranded a runner on third in both the second and third. In the third inning, he punched out a Nicaragua batter to end the threat and was fired up as he walked off the mound.
Sunday wasn’t Kremer’s first time pitching in the WBC. At 20 years old, he helped Team Israel qualify for the 2017 event and then pitched in the main tournament at 21. Kremer, 27, has dual Israeli-American citizenship.
Kremer, who is expected to be in the Orioles’ starting rotation this season, was one of Baltimore’s top starting pitchers in 2022 with an 8-7 record and a 3.23 ERA in 125 1/3 innings.
The game was scoreless when Kremer exited, but Nicaragua took a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Timonium native Spencer Horwitz, a minor leaguer in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system, later tied the game for Israel with an RBI single in the eighth. He then scored the winning run on a double later that inning.
Horwitz, 25, played in college at Radford and was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 24th round in 2019. The first baseman hit .275 between Double- and Triple-A last season. He ended his WBC debut 1-for-3 as Israel’s designated hitter in the No. 7 hole.
Orioles minor league pitcher Daniel Federman wasn’t used by Israel. Former Orioles reliever Richard Bleier, now with the Boston Red Sox, was the winning pitcher, tossing a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts.
Anthony Santander goes deep again
Baltimore fans might have to start wondering whether Anthony Santander is going to save any home runs for the Orioles.
For the second straight WBC game, the Orioles right fielder hit a home run in his first plate appearance to propel Venezuela to victory. Santander, who hit a solo shot in the second inning against the Dominican Republic on Saturday, connected for a three-run blast in the first inning of a 9-6 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday.
Just like Saturday, Santander’s long ball and celebration at Miami’s LoanDepot Park made the rounds on social media.
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Santander, who led the Orioles with 33 homers in 2022, launched the first pitch he saw from Puerto Rico right-hander José Berríos, a starter for the Blue Jays, over the right field wall. The 28-year-old was ready for Berríos’ breaking ball, going below the zone to lift the pitch 382 feet to put Venezuela up 4-0.
Santander, who also tripled and made a diving catch Saturday, ended the night 1-for-5. Venezuela is 2-0 in Pool D.
Orioles minor league reliever Darwinzon Hernandez, who joined the organization in January and was a nonroster invitee to spring training, didn’t pitch for Venezuela in the win. Jorge López, who the Orioles dealt to the Minnesota Twins at last year’s trade deadline for four pitching prospects, tossed a scoreless ninth with one strikeout for Puerto Rico.
Santander’s hot bat will get a break Monday, as Venezuela has a day off before playing Nicaragua on Tuesday.
Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins and the United States will look to get back into the win column Monday at 10 p.m. against Canada after losing, 11-5, to Mexico on Sunday. After not playing in Team USA’s win over Great Britain on Saturday, Mullins pinch ran and scored in the eighth and flied out to center field in the ninth.
Kremer will be resting after starting Sunday, but Israel plays Puerto Rico at 7 p.m. in Miami.
Orioles minor league pitcher Ryan Long and Great Britain, which lost to Canada, 18-8, on Sunday, will take on Colombia at 3 p.m. Monday. Long, who spent 2022 with Low-A Delmarva, pitched 1 2/3 innings against Team USA on Saturday, allowing a home run to Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber but striking out Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.