CHICAGO - The Orioles are now 3-23 when scoring three runs or fewer. Their third such win came by a 3-2 score at Chicago last night. The bullpen, the defense and the longball came together to produce the victory.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner again had some issues facing a lineup for the third time, and the White Sox started the sixth against him with a double, single and RBI double to cut a 3-1 O’s lead to 3-2.
Enter Mychal Givens, who continued the run of fine work he’s been enjoying lately. Givens came in with runners on second and third with no outs, and manager Buck Showalter would later say he just hoped that Givens would allow only one run in that situation. But the sidearmer allowed none, going pop up, strikeout on a 97 mph fastball and strikeout on a 97 mph fastball.
Over his last seven games, Givens has thrown 9 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run as his ERA dropped from 4.50 to 2.84, its lowest point since his second outing of the year.
“I spent some time over the last 10 days looking over his track record,” Showalter said of Givens. “I try to keep in mind, sometimes we think he’s been pitching for 10 years. Physically, his rest has been there. I just think he’s coming in a little crisper from the get-go. His breaking ball has been more in play in (all) the counts instead of all fastballs. The biggest thing I’ve been happy with is his defense against left-handed hitters this year.”
Givens allows a batting average of .171 against lefty batters and .204 to right-handers.
In the last of the ninth, it looked like the White Sox, behind 3-2, would tie it or win it against right-hander Brad Brach. He issued a walk and single to put runners on the corners with one out. He struck out Yolmer Sánchez, but then Showalter called for an intentional walk of José Abreu. That would load the bases and move the potential winning run into scoring position at second base.
But Brach made that strategy look good when he struck out Trayce Thompson, who had entered the game on defense in the top of the ninth. Brach threw four straight fastballs, the last of which got Thompson swinging at a 95 mph four-seamer.
Brach was asked about the decision to walk Abreu and put the winning run in scoring position.
“I know Buck, he’s got the numbers and he’s going to put you in good spots. So I know he won’t put someone on to load the bases and put the winning run on second base unless he’s got full confidence in me to get the guy out,” Brach said.
The Orioles bullpen is having a solid road trip. The team has gone 2-3 in five games in Boston and Chicago, but the O’s ‘pen has pitched to a 1.17 ERA in those games, allowing two earned runs over 15 1/3 innings.
Meanwhile, O’s left fielder Trey Mancini made two big plays in the fifth inning to keep Chicago from having a potential big inning against Cashner. He threw out Adam Engel trying to stretch a single into a double. Later he began a 7-6-2 out at the plate that ended the inning on Abreu’s double into the left-field corner. One run scored on the play but Manny Machado gunned down Sánchez at the plate with the relay to keep the Orioles ahead 2-1 at that point.
After the game, Showalter admitted he wasn’t quite sure how the move of Mancini to left field last year was going to go.
“When we first started talking about it, I had some doubts about it, but the thing I underestimated was the want-to. He’s been good for a while, and watch BP. He’s working at it. For situations like that,” the manager said.
Mancini recorded his fifth and sixth outfield assists of the year last night. That is tied for the league lead. Mancini has six of the Orioles’ nine outfield assists for the season.
The Orioles got solo homers last night from Machado, Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo. They have homered in 13 of their last 14 games, hitting 27. The Orioles are 14-18 when they hit at least one homer, and 1-14 when they go homerless.
The White Sox have fallen to 4-12 in one-run games. The 12 one-run losses have put them in a tie with the Rays for the most in the majors. The Orioles are 3-6 in one-run decisions.
Before Monday’s game, more than 20 Chicago-area reporters poured into the Orioles clubhouse seeking interviews with Machado. Both the Cubs and White Sox have been reported to be interested in acquiring Machado in a deal this year, or in signing him once his contract with the Orioles expires at the end of this season.
Machado was asked about rumors the Cubs might pursue him.
“You know what? It is out of my hands. I can’t control that,” he said. “Just try to go out there and win games and do as much as I can for my ballclub. I don’t get distracted by any of this. All these talks, rumors, at the end of the day, I have to go out there and perform. We are trying to make a push for things and we’re a little behind, but we have to keep pushing forward.”
For more of Machado’s pregame interview, click here.
Keys player honored: Frederick Keys first baseman Wilson Garcia has been named the Carolina League Player of the Week for May 14-20. One of the most productive hitters in the minors last week, Garcia, 24, went 10-for-18 (.556) with two home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs and five runs scored. Garcia also posted a 1.550 OPS. He was acquired by the Orioles via a trade with the Phillies on May 1. And in 17 games with Frederick, he’s batting .385/.414/.646 with eight doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs.