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Apr 1, 2024 2:43 am

Orioles ride hot rotation into series vs. Royals

Kansas City royals

Baltimore pitchers will look to continue their strong start to the 2024 season when the Orioles open a three-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Monday.

Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer (13-5, 4.12 ERA in 2023) opposes Royals veteran right-hander Michael Wacha (14-4, 3.22) in the series opener.

Baltimore starters Corbin Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez each pitched six innings of one-run ball as the Orioles won 11-1 and 13-4 against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. Tyler Wells was no slouch on Sunday, going six innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits. He struck out seven without a walk.

“We have a quality rotation, and I think that it’s going to continue to show itself,” Wells said. “I think that it’s going to be a strong suit for the team this year.”

However, the Orioles are not 3-0 as they welcome the Royals. After the Baltimore offense exploded in the first two games, the Orioles were held in check by three Angels pitchers on Sunday. Baltimore collected three hits and five walks and left eight men on base. The Orioles’ only run in a 4-1 loss came on a bases-loaded walk.

“That’s baseball, right?” Baltimore catcher James McCann said. “Just because you have two really good games offensively doesn’t mean you’re going to have three.

“That’s the beauty of 162 games is you’re going to have your ups, you’re going to have your downs as an individual and as a team. Today, we just didn’t click.”

Kremer, 28, made 32 starts last season and was 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA over his final seven outings. Baltimore went 6-1 in those games. He won his only previous start against the Royals, allowing two runs (one earned) over five innings in 2022.

Wacha, 32, signed with the Royals in December, getting a two-year, $32 million deal with an opt-out after 2024. He made 24 starts for the San Diego Padres last season and won his last three appearances. Wacha exited his final spring training start after being hit on the pitching hand by a liner up the middle.

“We are really lucky, he is really lucky,” manager Matt Quatraro said of Wacha, whose X-rays on his middle finger came back negative. “We feel fortunate that it wasn’t anything worse.”

Wacha is 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 10 career starts vs. the Orioles.

Kansas City’s weekend was the opposite of Baltimore’s. After the Royals dropped their first two games against the Minnesota Twins, 4-1 and 5-1, the Kansas City offense erupted in an 11-0 win on Sunday.

The Royals got home runs from Salvador Perez, Kyle Isbel, Maikel Garcia, Bobby Witt Jr. and Nelson Velazquez. It was the first time Kansas City hit five homers since Aug. 20, 2021, on the road against the Chicago Cubs.

“We knew what we’re capable of,” Witt said. “We knew this was there. It just had to click. And Salvy got us going. It’s great to see and shows everyone what this offense can do. And it’s just kind of getting started.”

Witt went 6-for-11 with four runs in the series. On Sunday, he singled in the first inning and tripled in the second as Kansas City sent a total of 18 men to the plate in those frames. Witt went deep in the third and finished 3-for-5.

–Field Level Media

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