Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (2024)

CINCINNATI — Dean Kremer took a bid for a perfect game into the fifth and allowed only one hit across six scoreless innings Sunday.

It might not have even been the best start the Orioles received this weekend at Great American Ball Park.

Like John Means and Cole Irvin before him, Kremer was superb Sunday to lead the Orioles to an 11-1 win and a sweep of the Reds. Kremer retired the first 13 batters he faced, and the only time he got in trouble, he stranded two runners in scoring position in the fifth.

The Orioles have allowed eight runs in their past seven games and only two this weekend. The sweep is Baltimore’s third this season, while the club hasn’t been swept in an AL-best 102 straight regular-season series since May 2022.

“I think we have the ability to be the best team in the big leagues,” Kremer said. “Our offense is unbelievable, the defense that they play is unbelievable, and our pitching staff, when we put it together, is pretty good. I like where we’re at.”

Kremer carried the torch from Means, who delivered a signature start Saturday with seven shutout innings and eight strikeouts in his first start back from injury. Irvin started the series with 6 1/3 scoreless innings on just 72 pitches and 11 ground ball outs in Friday’s shutout. The trio combined to throw 19 1/3 innings without allowing a run this weekend against an up-and-coming Reds team. Irvin, Means and Kremer surrendered just five hits and one walk while striking out 18.

Kremer (3-2) believes pitching, like hitting, is contagious.

“Try to follow suit like the other starters,” Kremer said of his goal when he took the mound Sunday.

His ERA fell to 3.57 as the four Orioles pitchers with more than three starts all have ERAs below 3.72. Over his past three starts, Kremer has a 1.96 ERA and has allowed only eight hits in 18 1/3 innings.

“Guy sees what the guy does the night before, you want to match it,” said manager Brandon Hyde, who described Kremer’s outing as “fantastic.” “Right down the line, we’ve been doing that so far. We’re on a good stretch of starts.”

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (1)

    Anthony Santander #25 and Gunnar Henderson #2 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after Santander hit a grand slam in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (2)

    Anthony Santander #25 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (3)

    Ryan McKenna #26 and Colton Cowser #17 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after McKenna hit a home run in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (4)

    Baltimore Orioles' Colton Cowser (17) is picked off and caught stealing second base as he collides with Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) in the second inning of a baseball game on Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (5)

    Christian Encarnacion-Strand #33 of the Cincinnati Reds tags out Anthony Santander #25 of the Baltimore Orioles during a rundown in the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (6)

    Third base coach Tony Mansolino and Jordan Westburg #11 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after Westburg hit a home run in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (7)

    Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds tags out Colton Cowser #17 of the Baltimore Orioles at second base in the second inning at Great American Ball Park on May 05, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (8)

    Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a single hit by teammate Anthony Santander in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (9)

    Orioles infielder Jordan Westburg, right, celebrates with Ramón Urías after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (10)

    Baltimore Orioles' Jordan Westburg (11) celebrates hitting a two-run homer with teammate Anthony Santander (25) as he crosses the plate in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Cincinnati. Cincinnati Reds catcher Luke Maile is at right. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

  • Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (11)

    Baltimore Orioles' Jordan Westburg, right, celebrates hitting a two-run homer in the dugout in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, May 5, 2024, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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Baltimore’s bats broke out in the first with three runs, including a two-run blast from Jordan Westburg. Adley Rutschman delivered two RBI hits — a double in the fifth and a single in the seventh. And Anthony Santander put a bow on the sweep with a grand slam in the ninth — the switch-hitter’s fifth long ball of the season and third grand slam of his career.

Converted starter Albert Suárez relieved Kremer and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless before right-hander Mike Baumann allowed a run while recording the final two outs.

Baltimore is 23-11 and still atop the American League standings. The Orioles have won four in a row and six of their past seven games. Their plus-55 run differential ranks first in the AL and second in MLB behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (plus-63).

“We don’t take anybody for granted,” Westburg said. “We don’t want to take series off, we don’t want to take games off. We don’t want to give anything away.”

They entered Sunday’s series finale, which started at 4:05 p.m. instead of in the early afternoon because of the famous Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, with a difficult assignment against Reds left-hander Nick Lodolo. The 26-year-old southpaw carried a 3-0 record and a 1.88 ERA into his start as he begins to realize his potential as a former first-round pick. Against left-handed starters, the Orioles were hitting .237 with a .719 OPS — much worse than versus righties.

They didn’t waste much time reversing both of those trends. With two outs in the first inning, they rallied against Lodolo with three straight hits to take a 3-0 lead. Ryan Mountcastle hit a high fly ball down the left field line, but with Reds’ Spencer Steer shaded to left-center field, the ball dropped inside the foul line. Statcast tracking data gave the batted ball only a 1% chance of landing for a hit.

Santander, who entered the game with a .200 average and .668 OPS as he endures an early-season slump, singled home Mountcastle to bring home the Orioles’ first run in the first inning on the road this season. Sunday was the Orioles’ 15th road game, in which they are 10-5. Santander’s OPS is up to .722 after his 3-for-4 day.

Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (12)

After opening the series 0-for-7 with four strikeouts, Westburg hit his first home run in 11 games. The Orioles lead the majors in home runs this season with 54, and their eight hitters with the most plate appearances all have at least five: Gunnar Henderson (10), Cedric Mullins (six), Colton Cowser (six), Westburg (six), Rutschman (five), Mountcastle (five), Ryan O’Hearn (five) and Santander (five).

“Super important,” Westburg said of the early offense. “Last couple games, we haven’t put up a whole lot of support for our pitchers. They’re pitching their butt off, and we’d like to make it a little bit easier game on those guys. For us to put up some runs today was pretty cool.”

Christian Encarnacion-Strand ended Kremer’s big for a perfect game with a one-out single in the fifth, and Jonathan India followed with a walk to put Kremer in trouble. But the 28-year-old right-hander buckled down to get Nick Martini to fly out and Santiago Espinal to pop out to end the threat. Kremer then ended his outing by striking out the side in order, including one of superstar Elly De La Cruz, who finished the series 2-for-11 with six strikeouts.

“Very impressed,” Westburg said of Baltimore’s pitching this weekend. “It’s awesome to play behind. These guys are competitive and going to work every single day.”

Rutschman’s RBI double marked his 15th time in 16 games recording a hit. The star catcher’s 2-for-5 day improved his slash line during that stretch to .371/.388/.614 — good for a 1.002 OPS. In the seventh, Ryan McKenna put the Orioles up 5-0 with a solo home run. The backup outfielder hit two long balls in each season from 2021 to 2023 across an average of 169 plate appearances. It took him just eight plate appearances this season to hit his second homer after joining the roster in late April after top prospect Jackson Holliday was optioned to Triple-A.

Cowser broke out of his recent slump with an RBI double in the ninth before Santander’s big fly put a smile on Hyde’s face.

“That’s the best left-handed swing he’s taken in a long time — not just because of the result, but with how free and easy it was,” Hyde said. “Just really happy for him in that moment, because he’s been really, really grinding. … He’s such a talented hitter and a huge part of our lineup. Fun to watch him swing the bat the way he did today.”

After a day off Monday, the Orioles play a two-game series against the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday. The streak of stellar starting pitching has a high probability of continuing, as aces Corbin Burnes and Kyle Bradish will hope to follow what Irvin, Means and Kremer did in Cincinnati.

Around the horn

  • Grayson Rodriguez (right shoulder inflammation) played catch Sunday to begin his throwing program after being placed on the 15-day injured list last week, pitching coach Drew French said before Sunday’s game. French said the 24-year-old right-hander threw from 60 to 75 feet. The plan is to ramp Rodriguez up to throw bullpen sessions before his return. Whether he will need to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment is unknown. French said the plan is to “take it slow” with Rodriguez’s recovery. “Great news,” the first-year pitching coach said. “Today was a really good day for him, and tomorrow will obviously be an off day. We’ve got a tentative plan right now, but ultimately it’s about him feeling really good on that day before and after he plays catch.”
  • French did not have any updates on Tyler Wells. The 6-foot-8 right-hander was placed on the 15-day IL in mid-April with elbow inflammation and played catch for the first time Wednesday.
  • The Orioles announced that aces Corbin Burnes and Kyle Bradish will start against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The outing will be Bradish’s second this season after missing the first month of the season with an elbow injury.

Orioles at Nationals

Tuesday, 6:45 p.m.

TV: MASN

Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM

Dean Kremer dominates as Orioles’ bats come alive in 11-1 win over Reds to complete sweep (2024)
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