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Trey Mancini delivers go-ahead double, then Orioles break it open in 6-1 win over Rangers; Dean Kremer optioned after start

When Trey Mancini stepped to the plate with two on and none out in the eighth inning of a tied game, he did so as baseball’s leader in grounding into double plays. When he fell behind 0-2, he was in position for what would’ve been his 19th strikeout in 15 games.

Instead, as he has so often in the past year, he battled.

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Mancini’s go-ahead double gave the Orioles their first lead of Saturday night, one they added onto in a 6-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. Baltimore (7-8) will go for the sweep Sunday.

Mancini had struggled thus far in his season after missing 2020 while undergoing treatment for colon cancer, to the point that manager Brandon Hyde dropped him to fifth in Saturday’s lineup. But he came through against Rangers reliever Joely Rodríguez.

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“He’s been grinding,” Hyde said. “That was huge for us and huge for him.”

After inning-opening singles from DJ Stewart and Maikel Franco, Mancini’s double put two in scoring position for Ryan Mountcastle, who was playing first base with Mancini serving as the designated hitter. Mountcastle’s deep drive to right field was caught at the wall, but it was good enough to serve as a sacrifice fly and extend the lead.

Freddy Galvis doubled and scored on a Cedric Mullins single to tie the game in the seventh, then doubled again to open the ninth for his fourth hit to improve to 7-for-10 with three doubles, a triple and a home run in the past three games. After Stewart singled him in, Franco blasted a two-run home run to provide the final margin.

“It’s a beautiful win when you play together, you play as a team,” Franco said. “We did a lot of good things together.”

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Behind a solid short-rest start from rookie right-hander Dean Kremer — who was optioned to the alternate site afterward as the Orioles won’t need a fifth starter for the next turn through the rotation because of two days off next week — the bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 11 2/3 innings, including 8 1/3 innings in the series.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 17: Freddy Galvis #2 of the Baltimore Orioles slides into home past Jonah Heim #28 of the Texas Rangers to score on a single by Cedric Mullins in the seventh inning of the MLB game at Globe Life Field on April 17, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - APRIL 17: Freddy Galvis #2 of the Baltimore Orioles slides into home past Jonah Heim #28 of the Texas Rangers to score on a single by Cedric Mullins in the seventh inning of the MLB game at Globe Life Field on April 17, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD ** (Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Krem de la Krem

After lasting only three innings for the second straight start to open his first full year in the majors, Kremer lamented not using his curveball more. Hyde said before Saturday’s game that Kremer became “too cutter happy,” relying on that pitch rather than his fastball-curve combination. Kremer offered no reasons for such qualms Saturday.

Pitching on short rest for the first time as a major leaguer, Kremer delivered his best start of the year, working a season-high 4 2/3 innings, striking out six and allowing a run. Of his 78 pitches, 90% were his four-seam fastball or curveball. He topped out at about 72% in that area in his first two starts, according to MLB’s Statcast data, while the 10 swing-and-misses he generated marked one fewer than he had gotten in his first two starts combined.

“Coming up through the minors, that was my bread and butter,” said Kremer, who spoke before his optioning was official. “I started to get away from it. I’m glad to see it’s coming back.”

Kremer must remain in the minors for at least 10 days unless he is called up for a player going on the injured list. The Orioles are off Monday and Thursday and won’t need a fifth starter until the following week’s home series with the New York Yankees.

“I thought Dean really threw the ball well,” Hyde said. “I thought his execution of pitches, but not only that, his pitch selection, he did a really nice job working with [catcher Pedro Severino] on how to set up hitters. Dean’s got really good stuff.”

A pair of doubleheaders in the Orioles’ four-game series against the Seattle Mariners left Baltimore without an on-schedule starter for Saturday, but with Kremer coming off a 54-pitch start Tuesday, the Orioles decided to deploy him on three day’s rest.

Kremer began his start with a four-pitch walk but followed by retiring eight of the next nine Rangers. But three of the first four Texas batters singled off him to produce a fourth-inning run. The inning might’ve spiraled if not for a sterling double play behind him.

Galvis made a sliding stop on Nick Solak’s sharp grounder to shortstop and tossed to second baseman Rio Ruiz, who barehanded the ball for the first out before throwing to first to complete the double play and end the inning.

“That’s a game-saver there, to turn two right there,” Kremer said. “That would’ve been a real dagger, but [Galvis] came up big. He had a phenomenal night.”

More middle-inning magic

Before the game, Hyde referred to the middle innings as an early “bugaboo” for the Orioles pitching staff. For the second straight day, a left-handed reliever kept that from being the case.

After Paul Fry’s strong performance Friday, Wade LeBlanc entered behind Kremer and retired the next four batters to get the game to the seventh. A leadoff single ended his day, but scoreless innings from Travis Lakins Sr., Tanner Scott and Shawn Armstrong completed the victory.

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