MILWAUKEE — Brewers ace Corbin Burnes has spent most of the season searching for the dominant form that won him the 2021 National League Cy Young Award.
He found it Wednesday night against the Orioles.
The right-hander twirled eight shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing two hits, to hand the Orioles a 10-2 defeat. He faced just two batters over the minimum.
“Got to watch the last few innings inside, and just watch how he pitched on the corners,” said manager Brandon Hyde, noting how he could watch the final four innings on television after getting ejected in the fifth for arguing balls and strikes. “I thought he had great stuff tonight, kind of back to Cy Young stuff like he threw a couple years ago. Just had a tough time. He was on the corners all night with really good stuff, we had a tough time squaring him up.”
After a scorching hot April, Baltimore’s offense has come back down the earth. The Orioles have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their past 12 games, averaging 3.6 per contest in that stretch.
Even if the lineup came to life, it likely wouldn’t have mattered, as the Brewers and No. 9 hitter Joey Wiemer battered Dean Kremer and long reliever Bruce Zimmermann for 16 hits and 10 runs. It’s the fourth time Baltimore has given up 10 runs in a game this season and the fifth time an opposing team has tallied 16 or more hits.
Kremer surrendered a season-high six runs in five innings, ending his stretch of six straight good starts. The right-hander had a 6.67 ERA in six April starts, but he bounced back in his next half-dozen starts with a 5-1 record and 2.55 ERA. Kremer gave up runs in four of his five innings, scattering nine hits and no walks. His ERA increased from 4.43 to 4.89.
“Something I was told in the minor leagues [was] you’re gonna have five that are gonna be really good and five that are gonna be not so good,” Kremer said. “Then that middle bulk is what kind of makes your season, so I’d like to chalk this one up to one of those unlucky ones.”
Zimmermann, a Baltimore-area native, relieved Kremer, pitching a scoreless sixth before surrendering four runs in the seventh. The left-hander was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on Friday to provide long relief out of the bullpen. Zimmermann, who pitched two scoreless innings Saturday, ended his night allowing seven hits and four runs in three innings.
The bat that’s carried the Brew Crew this series has been an unexpected one. Wiemer, a 24-year-old rookie who entered the series hitting .214 with a .668 OPS, went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs one night after delivering the walk-off single in the 10th inning. He received a curtain call from the home crowd.
Willy Adames, who came off the injured list Wednesday, hit a solo home run in the first to give Milwaukee an early lead. After Wiemer’s two-run homer in the third and RBI single in the fourth, Jon Singleton and Brian Anderson both drove in runs in the fifth. In the seventh, before Wiemer’s second two-run blast, Andruw Monasterio roped an RBI double and Victor Caratini hit a sacrifice fly.
The only Orioles to manage hits off Burnes were Aaron Hicks, who has been the club’s hottest hitter since joining the team last week, and Gunnar Henderson. Hicks looped a single in the second but was doubled up a few pitches later on a lineout, and Henderson reached on an infield single in the fifth.
The Orioles rarely made hard contact against Burnes, whose 3.75 ERA and 22.7% strikeout rate entering Wednesday were far worse than his 2.43 ERA and 35.6% rate in 2021. On 17 batted balls off Burnes, the Orioles hit the ball harder than 91 mph three times, with just one having an expected batting average above .500.
“He was throwing in really good spots, attacking hitters, down and away, down and in,” Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander said. “I mean, that’s a big key as a pitcher.”
The Orioles didn’t get a runner in scoring position until the ninth, when Milwaukee reliever Bennett Sousa loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Austin Hays lined an RBI single and another run scored on Ryan McKenna’s double play.
The series loss is the sixth out of 20 for the Orioles. Baltimore (37-24) on Thursday will try to avoid being swept for the first time this season.
When Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Gibson hit Luis Urías with a pitch on Tuesday, Ramón Urías’ teammates questioned him.
“I was laughing in the inside. My teammates were saying, ‘Hey, you send Gibson to hit him?’” Ramón said about his younger brother, an infielder on the Brewers, getting plunked.
For the first time in their major league careers, Ramón and Luis Urías are sharing a field. The infielders grew up playing in Mexico, and Ramón, 29, said playing against Luis, 26, was “a special moment.”
“We were looking forward to this game,” Ramón said. “It was an exciting moment to be on the field with him.
“You don’t really know you’re gonna have the opportunity to play in the big leagues. To do it along your brother is something you dream about, but it’s not like you take it for granted.”
“How cool is that for his parents?” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Must be amazing to see two of your boys out on a major league field playing against each other.”
The Urías brothers both hit seventh Tuesday, combining to go 0-for-7 with six strikeouts. Ramón entered late Wednesday and singled in the ninth.
Jackson Holliday is the highest-ranked prospect in baseball who is still in the minor leagues. The 19-year-old phenom moved up to No. 2 overall in Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list Wednesday, behind only Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz, who made his MLB debut Tuesday.
In just a few months, the 2022 No. 1 overall pick has risen from No. 15 to No. 2, becoming the highest-rated prospect in the Orioles’ top-ranked minor league system. Henderson was the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball before the season, but the 21-year-old has since graduated from such status.
Baltimore still has eight prospects in the top 100, although one name is new. Low-A Delmarva catcher Samuel Basallo, who the Orioles signed as an international free agent in 2019, was unranked in the previous two iterations, but he appeared at No. 81.
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Triple-A outfielder Colton Cowser, Norfolk infielders Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz and Tides outfielder-first baseman Heston Kjerstad all received significant boosts. Cowser is now the organization’s second-best prospect at No. 16, followed by Westburg (46), Ortiz (75) and Kjerstad (84).
Grayson Rodriguez, who entered the year as the top pitching prospect in the sport, fell 12 spots to No. 17 after his demotion in late May amid struggles at the big league level. Left-hander DL Hall also dropped, falling 13 spots to No. 80.
Around the horn
- Henderson was back in the lineup Wednesday for the first time since Saturday, when he was removed with lower back discomfort. The 21-year-old went 1-for-3.
- Ryan Mountcastle wasn’t in the Orioles’ lineup for the second time in five games as he continues to slump at the plate. Mountcastle, whose 11 home runs lead the Orioles, entered Wednesday hitting .167 with a .526 OPS in his past 70 plate appearances. “He’s searching a little bit at the plate right now,” Hyde said before the game.
- Kjerstad’s Triple-A debut will have to wait at least one more day, as the Norfolk Tides’ game Wednesday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was postponed for a second straight day because of poor air quality caused by winds carrying wildfire smoke from eastern Canada. Kjerstad was promoted to Norfolk on Monday after dominating Double-A with a .960 OPS.
This story will be updated.
Orioles at Brewers
Thursday, 2:10 p.m.
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