After the Orioles finished their series against the New York Yankees with a second straight one-run victory Sunday, manager Brandon Hyde quipped that he told his team it was acceptable to win 7-2 on occasion.
An unearned run in Tuesday’s eighth inning prevented Hyde from being prophetic, but an early offensive output led to a 7-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals in front of an announced crowd of 4,981, the smallest full-capacity attendance in the ballpark’s history.
That sparse crowd was loud in the eighth, rising to give debuting right-hander Mike Baumann, the Orioles’ No. 9 prospect promoted earlier in the day, a standing ovation after he went 3 ⅔ innings without allowing an earned run. Baumann combined with fellow rookies in starting pitcher Alexander Wells and closer Tyler Wells to record 26 of 27 outs.
“It was everything and more,” Baumann said. “I didn’t really know what the moment would be like. There was a lot of adrenaline and everything was just kind of a blur, so looking back at it, I don’t even know if I remember much of what happened on the mound, but just the feeling of walking off the field after, hearing the fans, that was a cool moment, so it was definitely something to remember.”
Against a rookie on the other side in Royals starter Jackson Kowar, the Orioles (44-93) put up a four-run first inning, a total they had surpassed in only two of their previous 10 full games. Kowar opened his outing with walks of Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle, who respectively scored on Anthony Santander’s single through a shifted infield and Austin Hays’ chopped groundball. DJ Stewart brought himself and Santander home with a two-run home run.
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Hays, teammates with Baumann at Jacksonville University, delivered another two-run shot off Kowar in the third, extending his career-high hitting streak to 14. But as the Royals’ rookie pitcher struggled, three of the Orioles’ rookies combined to cover the game. A day after Zac Lowther limited Kansas City to one run in six innings, fellow soft-tossing left-hander Alexander Wells had a one-out walk turn into a run in the third and allowed a solo home run to Carlos Santana in the fourth, but he left the bases loaded in the latter frame, preserving Baltimore’s four-run lead.
In the past two days, Baumann, Lowther and Alexander Wells combined to allow three earned runs in 13 ⅔ innings, a 1.98 ERA befitting the success they had together sharing a Double-A rotation two years ago.
“It’s just like we’re back in Bowie in 2019,” Alexander Wells said. “It’s good to be around them again, and hopefully, we can build off each other and be competitive and put up some good numbers.”
Baumann took over in the fifth, retiring the next eight batters — with the help of a diving stop from rookie second baseman Jahmai Jones in the sixth — before pitching around a two-out double in the seventh. After Mullins tacked a run onto Baltimore’s lead with his 27th home run, Baumann left two men on for Dillon Tate with two outs in the eighth, who got a pair of groundballs the Orioles’ infield couldn’t convert into outs before an inning-ending strikeout. Tyler Wells pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
While also earning his first major league win, Baumann became the first Oriole in 45 years to record at least 11 outs in relief without allowing an earned run in his debut.
“He was absolutely outstanding,” Hyde said. “Love the aggressiveness in the strike zone, like how he attacked hitters with his fastball. Had a ton of life to it.
“Challenged hitters, pitch count was way down, forced the action, and he has enough on his fastball to get it by guys and get some weak contact. Really good first impression of Mike Baumann.”
Around the horn
- First baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini (general soreness) and infielder Ramón Urías (upper right leg soreness) were out of the lineup for the second straight game, but Hyde said both were feeling better than they did Monday.
- Right-hander Matt Harvey and left-hander John Means, respectively, will start the final two games of this series, each doing so on extra rest. Hyde said the Orioles have been continually evaluating whether to keep Harvey in the rotation given his jump in innings from recent years and will do so again after Wednesday’s start.
- Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, who suffered a right ankle sprain just before he was set to return from left bicep tendinitis, should throw a side session “in the next couple days” and is “on track,” Hyde said.