The Orioles entered the season with two Rule 5 draft picks in their bullpen, embarking on the huge challenge of carrying two inexperienced pitchers who can’t be moved to the minor leagues.
And in the Orioles’ 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on a chilly Saturday night, both pitchers made their major league debuts in back-to-back innings.
Left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. overcame a rocky beginning in the sixth, pitching a scoreless inning after he allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base. He allowed a run in the seventh on a pair of leadoff hits. Right-hander Pedro Araujo retired the three hitters he faced in a perfect eighth.
“At the end of the day, we gave up one run between the two of them over three innings,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “So, we’ll take the finished product and we’ll learn from it. You do take a step back when you get guys announced back-to-back making their major league debut and you kind of think.”
“It’s definitely very interesting,” Araujo said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. “I think there’s been some trust that’s been given to us and hopefully we can continue to earn more trust.”
The late-inning deficit allowed a good opportunity to get the rookies’ feet wet while taking some pressure off them.
“I felt like any other day, but obviously there’s that tension where you’re making your major league debut,” Cortes said. “You want to do good. Other than that, I felt great. Didn’t come out with a ‘W’ as a team, but other than that, everything was great.”
Cortes acknowledged being amped taking the mound in the seventh, and he loaded the bases quickly with two walks and a single, but struck out Byron Buxton looking and induced a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
“Yeah, I settled in,” Cortes said. “I got out of a good inning. I got myself into trouble, an infield out, went through the infield. Other than that, felt great.”
“I was kidding Nestor, the best changeup he threw was to [catcher] Caleb [Joseph] to start the double play,” Showalter joked.
Cortes allowed a run in the seventh on a Brian Dozier double and Joe Mauer single, but retired the next three batters he faced.
Araujo induced a pair of groundouts before striking out Buxton on a nasty slider to end his inning.
“I was very calm,” Araujo said. “I prepared myself mentally and physically for it.”
Cortes said he remained in the dugout to watch Araujo’s debut.
“I stayed out there,” Cortes said. “I wanted to see his outing, support him. Threw a great inning. I was glad that everything came out good.”