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Dean Kremer continues impressive start to career, but Orioles' bats can’t back him up in 3-1 loss to Rays

Rookie Dean Kremer’s low-scoring start to his major league career continued apace Thursday, but a veteran newcomer who had been providing scoreless outings of his own had his streak ended in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader at Camden Yards.

César Valdez, the 35-year-old reliever who was signed out of the Mexican League as a minor league free agent and hadn’t allowed a run in 11⅓ innings to begin his Orioles career, gave up two runs in the seventh inning after Ryan Mountcastle tied the game at one in the sixth.

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The late slip-up by the oldest player on the Orioles' roster meant that one of their youngest, the 24-year-old Kremer, again had a strong start wasted by a club that couldn’t figure out Rays starter Blake Snell all night.

“I thought we had a shot the whole time, the way we were pitching — the way Kremer was throwing the ball and Paul [Fry] with a really nice scoreless sixth,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We just didn’t score off Snell. He was on today.”

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Kremer who debuted Sept. 5 against the New York Yankees, has allowed one earned run in each of his three major league starts. He’s the first pitcher in Orioles history to begin his career with three such starts.

For most of the evening, that one run was the difference. The doubleheader was scheduled when the Orioles (22-28) declined to play the Rays earlier this month at Tropicana Field as they sought to send a message against racial and social injustice along with the rest of professional sports.

Kremer, one of the main pieces the Orioles got in the trade that sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, had to grind through a 20-pitch first inning but ended it with a strikeout to get himself on track.

A two-out triple to the right-field corner by Brett Phillips in the second inning that scored Joey Wendle from first base was the Rays' only true threat against Kremer, who allowed some long contact to the warning track in the early innings but settled in after a 26-pitch third inning to cruise through the fifth.

“I didn’t have my best stuff today, but I really needed to compete,” Kremer said. “They put eight lefties in the lineup so it took me a while to get my breaking ball going. It’s a good thing I had my cutter to get me through, but it was definitely a day where I had to grind through each at-bat.”

Said Hyde: “He didn’t really have his command, especially with his off-speed stuff. I thought he got better as the game went on, started utilizing his fastball a little bit more and got a little bit more aggressive. But only giving up one run in five innings against a good lineup, facing all left-handed hitters except for one, I thought it was a really nice start and gave us a chance to win.”

The Orioles struggled to get anything going all night against former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who carried a shutout into the sixth inning but was lifted after a walk of Pat Valaika and a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Velazquez that put Valaika on second base.

Mountcastle singled Valaika home from third base with his second of the Orioles' three hits, and Valdez took over for Paul Fry to begin the seventh inning. After a leadoff walk, he allowed a double by catcher Michael Perez that put runners on second and third base.

They scored on a groundout to second base and a sacrifice fly.

“Unlike him, which he hasn’t done, is walking the leadoff guy with a tie game,” Hyde said of Valdez. “But he’s been perfect, if not almost perfect so far for us. I wasn’t expecting that to happen and him to have a zero ERA at the end of the season. But once the leadoff walk and the out-in-front double, soft contact. He gives up a lot of soft contact and he was good after the double. But he’s been great for us, and he’ll bounce back.”

The Orioles walked twice in the seventh inning, but couldn’t score.

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