Two Baltimore Orioles minor league pitchers produced gems on Sunday. One was a league-leading effort and the other had not been done in six years.
Five of the Baltimore Orioles minor league affiliates were in action on Sunday. Two of those affiliates, the Bowie Baysox (AA) and the Frederick Keys (A-Adv.), saw that day’s starting pitchers produce superb efforts, one of which had not occurred in six years.
The Bowie Baysox finished their series with the Akron RubberDucks (Cleveland affiliate) at Canal Park on Sunday. Pitcher Zac Lowther got the start and lasted 6.2 innings in which he allowed one run and one hit, a 7th inning single to Mitch Longo, while walking none, and striking out eight. Lowther threw 98 pitches, 65 for strikes, in facing 24 Akron Batters. He retired the first seven batters he faced before the first of just four base runners that would reach against him got on as a result of a fielding error.
The Baysox defeated the RubberDucks by a final score of 4-2 and Lowther was credited with the win, improving his season record to 10-5. He is the first Eastern League pitcher to reach the double-digit wins and as such is the league leader in that category.
As impressive as Lowther’s day was, Frederick pitcher Brenan Hanifee did him one better. In a game that the Keys won 6-0 over the Salem Red Sox (Boston affiliate), Hanifee tossed a complete-game, five-hit gem. He needed 91 pitches (65 strikes) to navigate through 33 Salem batters in a game that lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes. Hanifee struck out four, but did hit one Salem batter, and allowed only one extra-base hit (an eighth-inning double to Jagger Rusconi) among the five hits surrendered.
The amazing thing about the complete game shut out is that the last time it happened for the Keys was in 2013 when Brady Wager defeated the Carolina Mudcats 2-0 in Carolina.
As a result of his performance, Hanifee was awarded the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week award for the week ending July 14th. He is the fourth Keys player to earn a weekly honor this season (Michael Baumann, Jomar Reyes, and Willy Yahn were previous award winners).
Hanifee won the award based on two appearances last week that saw him allow two runs on 12 hits over 16.0 innings pitched while striking out a total of 10 batters and walking none. Yesterday’s performance certainly answered the question of how do you top a 7.0 inning, two-run, seven-hit quality start?
Sunday was certainly a day for pitching in the Baltimore Orioles system. Better times are ahead, O’s fans. These hurlers prove it.