When Kyle Bradish last faced the Houston Astros, he delivered eight scoreless innings amid the most impressive stretch the Orioles have received from their rotation this season.
Perhaps that group is en route to topping it.
A night after Jordan Lyles pitched a one-run complete game against the Detroit Tigers, Bradish opened a four-game set against Houston by coming an out shy of a shutout in a 2-0 victory, with both runs coming on a Rougned Odor single off Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander in the second inning.
Bradish, a 26-year-old rookie right-hander, did not allow a base runner until the sixth inning, when Mauricio Dubón singled in front of left fielder Terrin Vavra with two outs, then did not permit another Astro to reach until there were two outs in the ninth while striking out 10.
Manager Brandon Hyde’s decision to pull Bradish after Jeremy Peña’s single on his 100th pitch prevented what would have been the Orioles’ first consecutive nine-inning complete games since Sidney Ponson and Juan Guzmán in June of 1999.
In two matchups with Bradish, the top team in the American League has failed to score over 17 2/3 innings, recording four hits with 16 strikeouts. His performance Thursday kept the Astros from reaching 100 wins, while with their 78th victory, the Orioles became the first team since 1900 to win that many games a season after losing at least 110 times. Baltimore (78-71) trails the Seattle Mariners by four games for the final AL wild-card spot with 13 left in the season and needs to finish with more wins than the Mariners because Seattle holds the season tiebreaker.
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Bradish tweaked the formula somewhat from his late August outing in Houston. He retained heavy usage of his slider while also working in his curveball more, deploying both breaking balls more than his four-seamer. His sinker, a pitch he only began using this month, featured heavily as well.
The Astros put only three balls in play against Bradish at 100 mph or more, with Dubón’s single not among them. At 76.5 mph, it was the third-weakest contact Houston made off Bradish, but it was lofted in such a way that Baseball Savant gave it an expected batting average of .920.
Otherwise, Houston hardly threatened against Bradish as he retired 26 of the first 27 batters before Peña brought the tying run to the plate, prompting Hyde to turn to closer Félix Bautista for a game-ending strikeout. In a six-start span bookended by his outings against the Astros, Bradish has a 1.64 ERA.
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