Successful Bullpen Game Underscores Early-Season Effort From Orioles Relievers

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was short on starting pitching for the series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 12, so he went to a bullpen game.

That was a good idea.

Hyde used six relievers, all of whom threw effectively, in the 3-2 victory.

Overall, the bullpen has been outstanding and has been a perfect complement to the starting pitching, which has also excelled. Orioles relievers have posted a 3.48 ERA on the year.

“We bullpenned it, it’s really difficult to do,” Hyde told reporters after the game. “That’s a good club. Facing Steven Matz, who we’ve had problems with in the past. Just really happy with our effort. Pitched great.”

Bryan Baker started a game for the first time in his major league career and threw 2.1 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He handed the ball to Keegan Akin, who earned the win after allowing just one hit with four strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Akin threw at least two innings out of the bullpen for the ninth consecutive time to open the season, which is the longest streak since Jimmy Haynes had 10 consecutive appearances in 1996.

Dillon Tate, Cionel Pérez and Joey Krehbiel pitched into the latter part of the game. Félix Bautista was the last pitcher out of the bullpen and managed a four-out save, marking his second save of the series. Bautista has been another pleasant surprise, with a fastball that has reached 102 mph. If he can maintain his command, Bautista could be a viable closer moving forward.

“Every time I get the ball right now, it just feels like my confidence keeps going up,” Bautista said through a team interpreter after the series finale. “I’m really thankful that they believe in me, that they trust in me. And every time I go out there and I pitch well and I do a good job, that confidence only grows more and more every day.”

These young Orioles are finding ways to win and are perhaps finally starting to turn the corner. They found a way to win a series in St. Louis without several key players, including Ryan Mountcastle (left wrist), Ramón Urías (midsection discomfort), Rougned Odor (sinus issue) and Jorge López (bereavement list).

The defense has been outstanding and the club leads the American League with 40 double plays turned on the year. The Orioles have won four of their last five series and split the fifth, winning eight of their past 11 games.

“Where we are, organizationally, right now, I think we’re very much proud of how we’re playing,” Hyde said. “We’re going to keep playing hard.”

Bannon Shines In Debut

Rylan Bannon found out he was making his major league debut about an hour before first pitch May 12 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Once he took the field, he looked like a grizzled veteran. Bannon stole a potential double by Nolan Arenado in the first inning with a diving catch and adept throw to Trey Mancini.

Bannon then one-upped himself at the plate, becoming the first Orioles player since 2000 to get a hit on the first pitch of his big league career in the 3-2 victory. Bannon went 1-for-4 on the day and earned himself more opportunities in the big leagues.

“That was definitely cool to get under my belt right away,” Bannon said. “Play right there in the first inning definitely made things a little easier from there on out, but my feet didn’t really get under me until the fifth or so inning, and after getting a couple of at-bats. That’s when it really sunk in where I was. It was just a weird feeling being out there early in the game. A ton of emotions.”

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Todd Karpovich

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