'Cool moment' as Baumann wins MLB debut

Right-hander attacks zone, logs 3 2/3 strong IP after promotion from Triple-A

September 8th, 2021

BALTIMORE -- Mike Baumann gave Orioles fans a potential preview of better days ahead, pitching 3 2/3 strong innings to win his big league debut as Baltimore rolled to a 7-3 victory over the Royals on Tuesday night at Camden Yards.

The 25-year-old right-hander, ranked as the club's No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game and demonstrated the talent that earned him the 2019 Co-Pitcher of the Year in the O’s Minor League system, mixing a fastball that sat in the mid 90s with three offspeed offerings while pounding the zone through most of his outing.

“I just liked the aggressiveness in the strike zone,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “He challenged hitters. His pitch count was way down. He forced the action, and he has enough on his fastball to get it by guys and get some weak contact. So a really good first impression of Mike Baumann.”

Baumann retired 11 of 14 batters, while allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk to the last man he faced. He threw 31 of 46 pitches for strikes and was perfect until Whit Merrifield, the ninth batter Baumann faced, doubled inside the third-base bag with two outs in the seventh.

Baumann responded by inducing Nicky Lopez into an inning-ending groundout, and he retired two in the eighth before leaving with two on and two outs to a standing ovation from a passionate crowd.

“I didn’t really know what the moment would be like,” Baumann said. “There was a lot of adrenaline. Looking back, I don’t even know if I remember much of what happened on the mound. But just the feeling, walking off the field after hearing the fans, that was a cool moment.”

Cedric Mullins clubbed his 27th home run -- his third in as many games for the first time in his career -- to move within three homers and four steals of a 30-30 season.

Austin Hays extended his hit streak to 14 games with a two-run homer, and DJ Stewart also hit a two-run jack during a four-run first inning as the Orioles evened this four-game series at 1-1.

Baumann joined the Orioles after pitching to a 2.00 ERA in six Triple-A starts. While he made 18 starts overall in the Minors this season, Hyde said before the game that Baumann would start in a long-relief role for the O's. With the club’s patchwork rotation, getting his first start in the Majors is certainly a possibility before the regular season ends.

“We’re evaluating everybody,” Hyde said, “but it’s good for him to get his feet wet these next three weeks, and we’re excited to give him that opportunity.”

In 2019, Baumann earned the organization's Co-Pitcher of the Year Award alongside No. 2 prospect Grayson Rodriguez after a season that included a 10-strikeout no-hitter for Double-A Bowie.

A stint at the Orioles' alternate training site in 2020 came to a premature end with a right flexor strain, and Baumann began his 2021 Minor League season on a rehab assignment at Low-A Delmarva before pitching 10 games with Bowie.

At Double-A, Baumann wasn’t originally the dominant 2019 version of himself. However, that version returned as the season progressed.

“There’s been some ups and there’s been some downs,” Baumann said pregame. “Kind of looking at the past couple months, I’ve definitely become a better pitcher because of it. I wouldn’t change the experiences I’ve had at the beginning of the season for anything. It made this moment a lot sweeter.”

As with most things in this challenging season for Baltimore, the excitement of Baumann’s promotion comes with the tradeoff of placing righty Jorge López on the 10-day injured list with a right ankle sprain. Hyde said the injury could “potentially” be season ending.