PHILADELPHIA — Brooks Kriske on Wednesday became the 60th player the Orioles have used this season, furthering a franchise record. But he’s the only one of those named for franchise icon Brooks Robinson.
The right-handed pitcher made his team debut in a 4-3 loss to close Baltimore’s series with the Philadelphia Phillies. After the Phillies broke a 2-2 tie with two runs off right-hander Conner Greene in the seventh, Kriske stranded a pair of Greene’s runners to keep the game close.
When Kriske was 7 or so years old, his father met Robinson and told the Hall of Famer he named his son after him. That started a connection between Robinson and the Kriske family that persists; when the Orioles claimed Kriske, an Arizona native, on waivers from the New York Yankees last week, Robinson reached out to Kriske’s father.
“Every year or biyearly, we’d go out and eat and he’d come out to my practices,” Kriske, 27, said. “We’ve just always kind of kept in touch that way.”
That relationship continued as Kriske got older. The Yankees drafted him in 2016′s sixth round out of Southern California, and he posted a 2.36 ERA as a reliever in their minor league system. That success didn’t translate to the majors, where he had a 15.09 ERA in 12 outings, leading to New York designating him for assignment. That landed him with the pitching-starved Orioles, the organization where Robinson spent all 23 seasons of his Hall of Fame career.
“He’s so humble and gracious,” Kriske said. “And I always say, he’s a gentleman. That’s what every person that’s come across him has said, and I tried to take those traits. It’s off-the-field stuff and it’s just treating everyone the right way and being a good teammate and being the best person I can be all the time.”
A hard-fought series
After Kriske’s appearance, the Orioles (48-104) got a run back in the top of the eighth when Pedro Severino doubled home Austin Hays, but Severino couldn’t score himself, with Bryce Harper throwing him out at the plate on Pat Valaika’s single.
Despite Baltimore starter Keegan Akin having an ERA more than four runs higher than Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler coming into the game, the pitchers matched each other with five scoreless innings. Hays’ RBI double off Wheeler in the sixth continued a hot September, but after a Harper single in the bottom half prompted Hyde to pull Akin at 90 pitches, Andrew McCutchen put Philadelphia ahead with a two-run home run off Eric Hanhold.
With the universal designated hitter possibly arriving in 2022, Akin had the honor of potentially being the last Orioles pitcher to take an at-bat. He did not enjoy that his two turns both came against Wheeler’s high-velocity stuff.
“I was a little excited, then I found out it was Wheeler, and I’d have [to face] 98 [mph],” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t really want much to do with that.”
Pinch-hitter Trey Mancini’s run-scoring groundout evened the score in the top of the seventh, but Greene quickly returned the lead to the Phillies. An infield single and pinch-hit double opened the inning, with Jean Segura’s sacrifice fly breaking the tie. For the second straight night, J.T. Realmuto delivered after an intentional walk to Harper, driving in an insurance run that proved vital with a single up the middle before Kriske retired McCutchen to escape the frame.
With two outs in the ninth, Jahmai Jones, recalled from Triple-A before the game, walked as a pinch-hitter before another walk to Cedric Mullins. But Ryan Mountcastle’s long at-bat — and perhaps the Orioles’ final game without a DH — ended with a flyout to Harper.
After taking the series opener against a Philadelphia team in the playoff hunt, Baltimore dropped consecutive one-run games in which it led in the sixth inning or later.
“We had the right guys up there in the ninth inning,” said manager Brandon Hyde, who also confirmed that he will return to the Orioles in 2022. “Cedric with a great at-bat, Mounty with an outstanding at-bat. So hopefully our guys that are going to be cornerstones going forward are absorbing this and learning from these experiences.”
Around the horn
- The Orioles made a flurry of roster moves before the game. They placed infielder Ramón Urías on the 10-day injured list with a right adductor strain, likely ending his season, recalled Jones and right-hander Konner Wade from Triple-A Norfolk and designated right-hander César Valdez for assignment. They also optioned recent waiver claim Joey Krehbiel to Norfolk.
- The team also evaluated outfielder Anthony Santander, who injured his left hamstring trying to field Realmuto’s walk-off triple off Valdez on Tuesday. Santander did not play Wednesday but remained on the active roster, though the Orioles had infielder/outfielder Tyler Nevin in Philadelphia if needed.
- Rookie left-handers Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells will start the first two games of the Orioles’ final homestand, facing the Texas Rangers. Right-hander Chris Ellis, who has been dealing with arm fatigue, could rejoin the rotation this weekend, with left-hander John Means starting either Saturday or Sunday.
Thursday, 7 p.m.
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