Hunter Harvey escapes bases-loaded jam in 8th to help preserve shutout in Orioles’ 2-0 victory over Nationals

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Baltimore Orioles catcher Pedro Severino, left, celebrates with relief pitcher Mychal Givens after the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, in Washington. The Orioles won 2-0. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — Much like the high-velocity fastballs he throws, Hunter Harvey has rocketed to the back end of Orioles manager Brandon Hyde’s bullpen. Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals showed the belief the first-year manager has in the rookie right-hander.

When Hyde tasked Harvey, the Orioles’ 2013 first-round pick, with holding a two-run lead on the road against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, it marked the third time through four major league appearances Harvey had pitched in the eighth inning with a lead or in a tie game, matching the number of times he’d done so in the minors since a mid-June move to the bullpen. Tuesday’s test wasn’t without hurdles.


After pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra grounded out to begin Harvey’s outing, Trea Turner turned on an inside 98 mph fastball and sent it into the left-field corner for a triple. Harvey then won an eight-pitch battle with Adam Eaton by striking him out on a 91 mph splitter.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to get him out," Harvey said. “He just kept battling, fouling stuff off. That’s a big-league hitter, so it was fun to battle with him. I just had to dig deep and try to find something to get him out with because I knew he was going to be tough.”


Said Hyde: “If he gets that split going — you throw 99 or 100 [mph] with a split and a curveball, too, it’s going to be pretty special.”

With two bases open, Harvey issued consecutive walks to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, who each have 29 home runs, to load the bases.

“I know Rendon is a power guy and Soto is a power guy,” said catcher Pedro Severino, a former National. “I don’t want one of those guys to just tie the game with a homer, so I just think about trying to be around the zone.”

Harvey settled in to strike out Asdrúbal Cabrera, who foul-tipped Harvey’s 33rd pitch, a 99-mph fastball, into Severino’s glove for the inning-ending out. Harvey calmly walked off the mound after his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance to begin his major league career.

“It’s great to see Hunter Harvey show elite back-end stuff,” Hyde said. “I do want Hunter to experience major league baseball end of the game, which is having to go through Rendon and Soto as the tying run and not giving in and able to compose himself.

“I loved the fact that he was able, after those walks, bases loaded, crowd’s loud, to be able to compose himself and make pitches to Cabrera. Shows a lot of maturity.”

Orioles relief pitcher Hunter Harvey, shown in a game last week against the Royals, hasn't allowed a run in four outings in the major leagues.

Harvey has yet to pitch on fewer than two days rest as the Orioles (44-88) try to manage his innings after several injury-plagued seasons delayed his debut. The team also has yet to commit on whether he will return to starting or continue as a reliever going forward. But Tuesday’s outing, in front of an announced crowd of 24,946 that got loud late, gave Harvey a taste of what his future could hold at the back end of the Orioles’ bullpen.

“That was pretty fun, especially to have the crowd going crazy, so I really had the adrenaline pumping,” Harvey said. "... It’s a whole different animal from starting. Being able to do it here, it’s pretty crazy.”


Brooks at his best

Aaron Brooks took the Nationals Park mound Tuesday with an 8.07 ERA for the Orioles, but a Nationals (73-58) team that averaged more than 10 runs in its previous eight games hardly threatened him in his six scoreless innings. Turner led off the game with a single and a steal, but Brooks stranded him by striking out Eaton, Rendon and Soto, then started the second with a strikeout of Cabrera, all with his slider.

Victor Robles’ two-out bunt single in the second was the only other hit Brooks allowed, with the Nationals’ only threat against him coming in the fourth. Brooks walked Rendon to begin the frame before striking out Soto on a full-count slider. Cabrera then hit a grounder into the Orioles’ shifted infield at second baseman Jonathan Villar, who threw to first. With all of the Orioles’ infielders on the right side, third base was vacated, allowing Rendon to advance.

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After hitting Matt Adams, Brooks got Robles to pop out in foul territory, starting a run of seven straight Nationals retired to end his outing. Brooks gave up one run in 11 innings in his past two starts after posting an 11.05 ERA in the prior five.

“I just feel like he’s more under control in his delivery,” Hyde said. “I feel like he’s not trying to overthrow pitches. I think he’s making pitches instead of trying to generate arm speed or throwing nasty sliders all the time.”

Richard Bleier and Miguel Castro combined for a scoreless seventh, and after Harvey’s adventurous eighth, Mychal Givens threw a perfect ninth to complete the Orioles’ first road shutout since June 20, 2018, also at Nationals Park.

Alberto’s doing fine

After a nasty collision at second base Sunday left Hanser Alberto with a bruised head and cervical neck strain, it didn’t take the Orioles’ infielder long to prove he was healthy.


Atop the lineup and playing third base after Monday’s day off, Alberto singled up the middle on Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin’s first pitch. He advanced to second when Corbin hit Trey Mancini, then scored on Anthony Santander’s double over Soto’s head in left.

But Jonathan Villar’s sacrifice fly to bring home Mancini started a run of 15 straight set down by Corbin, including getting Alberto to fly out in the third. But Alberto bunted for a single to start the fifth, ending Corbin’s streak. It was 72nd hit off a left-hander, tied with Rafael Palmeiro in 1996 for the second most in Orioles history. Palmeiro holds the record with 73 in 1998.

After Alberto’s bunt, Corbin retired the next three Orioles and had six scoreless innings after the two-run first.