The Baltimore Orioles have showcased a few rising prospects among their position players during the past few months.
But maybe it’s pitching that will have to carry the Orioles if they are going to make it into the postseason.
The Orioles will be tested again Friday night in Baltimore against the Houston Astros in the second game of the four-game series.
Pitching has made the difference the past couple of nights as the Orioles have strung together consecutive wins.
Baltimore has allowed just one run in the back-to-back wins. That has camouflaged a struggling offense because the team has scored more than two runs only once in its past four games.
“How about this time of the year, too?” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of the pitchers. “It shows the kind of physical condition and shape these guys are in, too.”
The Orioles thrived behind Jordan Lyles on Wednesday night in an 8-1 win over the Detroit Tigers and behind Kyle Bradish on Thursday night in a 2-0 decision against the Astros.
Baltimore needed a reliever for just one out across the past two games combined, an ideal way to avoid taxing the bullpen.
The Orioles (78-71) are 5-6 in their past 11 games, so they need to produce at a better clip to have a chance of making up enough ground in their bid for an American League wild card.
The Astros (99-52) remain on the verge of reaching the 100-win milestone. Manager Dusty Baker didn’t seem overly concerned with the latest blip, figuring Bradish was simply too good on Thursday.
“Sometimes it’s us (not producing),” Baker said. “Most of the time it’s not us. This case definitely it was (Bradish).”
The Orioles try to keep it going with right-hander Dean Kremer (7-5, 3.33 ERA). He had one of his best outings of the season in his only career appearance against Houston. Kremer was the winner on Aug. 27, when he held the host Astros to one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Kremer has turned in nine consecutive outings of five or more innings. The Orioles have won six of the past seven games when he has stepped on the mound.
Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy (13-7, 3.96 ERA) will take the mound on Friday, trying to wash away consecutive bad starts. He gave up six runs each time in losses to the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s over the past two weeks.
Urquidy is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts against Baltimore.
A subplot for this series is the return to Baltimore for Trey Mancini, who was dealt from the Orioles to the Astros at the trade deadline. The first baseman received a huge and extended ovation as he took his first turn at the plate Thursday night, though he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
“It’s a little strange being in such a familiar place but being so unfamiliar with part of it,” Mancini said. “You’ve got to remember you’re here as a visitor.”
With the weekend ahead, Mancini said it’s important for him to get into a groove and not be distracted by the attention created by his return.
“We have games to play,” he said. “I want to try to hit (my) stride and get a little more consistent at the plate.”
With the Thursday win, the Orioles improved to 27-20 since the Mancini trade.
The Astros were without second baseman Jose Altuve for the Thursday game, and he is considered day-to-day after he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from Tampa Bay’s Corey Kluber on Wednesday night.
–Field Level Media