Bruce Zimmermann allowed five hits across seven scoreless innings in the first game of Double-A Bowie's doubleheader against Richmond on Monday night. Game 2 starter Cody Sedlock was even more precise.
The No. 26 Orioles prospect cruised through five hitless innings to lead the Baysox to a 2-0 win over the Flying Squirrels at The Diamond. In his first start and second appearance in the Eastern League, Sedlock walked three and struck out seven.
"If one starting pitcher has a good outing, the next guy is more likely to have a good outing," he said. "It's such a domino effect. To see him go out there and have an unbelievable outing, it just keeps the pace going and keeps the team on their game and lets the next starter go."
Video: Bowie's Sedlock completes five hitless frames
The nightcap came an out away from being part of a combined no-hitter -- which would have been the 11th in team history and the first by a visiting team in 31 years at The Diamond -- but Jacob Heyward doubled off Cristian Alvarado in the bottom of the seventh frame to spoil the bid for history. It was the second time in the past five days the Flying Squirrels came within an out of being no-hit.
"To give up a hit right down the line on an inside-out line drive," Sedlock said, "it was tough to see."
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None of the Richmond batters the 24-year-old right-hander walked advanced past first. Sedlock faced the minimum through two after a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play in the first. He struck out six batters the first time through the order.
It was the kind of appearance Sedlock might not have been able to achieve so easily in the past. In reviewing his pitch usage data this spring, the Orioles noticed the University of Illinois product used his fastball more than 70 percent of the time. That figure rose close to 95 percent when he was behind in the count. And if Baltimore knew it, so did other teams. Even without tipping his pitches, the opposition had a pretty good idea of what was coming when Sedlock was on the mound.
So he began to mix his pitches with greater variety this season. Sedlock deploys a slider, a curveball and a changeup, the last of which he said was especially effective Monday.
Video: Richmond's Heyward breaks up the no-hitter
"I'm able to throw pretty much any pitch in any count," he said. "The hitter doesn't know what's coming. It makes pitching a lot easier."
The four-pitch arsenal helped Sedlock get off to a strong start with Class A Advanced Frederick. He posted a 2.36 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 61 innings and earned a promotion to Bowie last week. He hasn't allowed a home run since April.
While he started Monday and in 10 of his previous 14 appearances this year, the plan moving forward with Sedlock is to mostly use the 2016 first-round pick as a piggyback reliever, he said. He's dealt with injury problems in the past; a strained flexor mass in his right elbow sidelined him twice in 2017 and thoracic outlet syndrome limited him to 37 innings last year. In his current role, the Illinois native will remain in the rotation while limiting his innings. He's thrown 69 frames so far this year.
2019 MiLB include
"I've been feeling good," he said.
After completing the fifth against Richmond, Sedlock had thrown 43 of his 70 pitches for strikes. Alvarado (2-2) needed nine pitches to get through the sixth, but the game remained scoreless heading into the seventh.
The Baysox needed some offense to back their dominant pitching. They got it -- just not entirely with their bats. Fourth-ranked Orioles prospect Yusniel Diaz led off with a double to center field. Carlos Perez followed with a single to left and Baltimore's No. 21 prospect Rylan Bannon walked to load the bases. Jesmuel Valentin struck out and T.J. Nichting popped out to third baseman Jonah Arenado, who made the grab while leaning over the railing of the visitors' dugout.
The first run of the game crossed the plate when the next batter, Ryan Ripken, was hit by Chase Johnson's 2-2 pitch. An insurance run later came in on a wild pitch by the righty.
Alvarado struck out No. 28 Giants prospect Jalen Miller on three pitches to begin the seventh, then got Gio Brusa to pop out to short. After Heyward turned a 2-0 pitch into the Flying Squirrels' only hit of the night, Alvarado capped Bowie's doubleheader sweep with another punchout.