Kremer gives O's another pitching masterpiece

Righty thwarts Astros, who've scored but once in the series

August 28th, 2022

HOUSTON -- A lot of attention with the Orioles goes to their young lineup, with names like Adley Rutschman, but the spotlight in Houston has been on the starting pitching staff.

Dean Kremer gave the club its second straight stellar start in the Orioles' 3-1 win over the Astros on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Orioles have been on an impressive stretch since July 3 -- a 32-15 record and a plus-44 run differential. A driving factor has been the offense, with players like Cedric Mullins -- who has a 10-game hitting streak -- stepping up their production.

In Houston, it has been the Orioles' starting staff stepping up to limit a potent Astros offense. Rookie Kyle Bradish did so on Friday night, when he threw eight scoreless innings. Kremer followed that up with an outstanding outing of his own. He allowed just one run off four hits in 7 2/3 innings.

“Dean continues to improve, just like a lot of our young starters,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He had really good stuff tonight, as he did in his last start.”

The Orioles knew it was going to take another solid outing to have a chance against the team with the best record in the American League. The task was going to be daunting for the righty, who stands 6-4 with a 3.24 ERA after proving himself up to the task.

Kremer’s key has been limiting walks and being unpredictable with the usage of all of his pitches (fastball, changeup, curveball, cutter and sinker). He didn’t walk any batters Saturday and has walked three or fewer batters in all 15 starts this year. The Astros’ offense ranked third in AL in walks (423) entering Saturday.

“The less free 90s [feet] you give up, the better off you will be,” Kremer said.

Kremer was in full control when the Astros swung that bat, too. The 26-year-old gave up one barrel in the 25 batters he faced.

Kremer tends to lean on his fastball and cutter -- using them a combined 72% entering Saturday -- but mixed it up to keep Astros hitters guessing.

“Every pitch was going,” Hyde said. “He was really unpredictable with a good curveball along with that good cutter he has, plus the changeup. Just an outstanding performance.”

It has not been just the starting staff’s performances that have stood out in the first two games (one run, six hits combined), but also the length of the outings. Bradish and Kremer combined for 15 2/3 innings.

Saturday was the first time in Kremer’s career that he reached the eighth inning of a start.

“Two deep starts from two guys that haven’t been in the big leagues for that long,” Hyde said. “The biggest thing for me is the improvement that these guys are showing. These guys are showing confidence and trust in their stuff.”

Meanwhile, the Orioles remain tantalizingly close to playoff position as they pursue an AL Wild Card spot.

“You are watching a couple of young guys learn at the big league level in a tight race and important games," Hyde said. "It’s a lot of fun.”