Hyde has reminder of unpleasant pitching problems that no longer exist

The lineup card is kept in Brandon Hyde’s office, commemorating his first win as a major league manager back on March 30, 2019 in the Bronx. Only his second game after being put in charge of guiding the team through a rebuild.

Hyde takes the occasional glance and can smile and cringe within seconds. He developed an unbreakable bond with those players but wouldn’t want to relive such a dark period in franchise history. Wouldn’t want to keep trying to wake up from the same nightmare.

Dwight Smith Jr. was in left field, Rule 5 pick Drew Jackson in center, Joey Rickard in right and Renato Núñez in the cleanup spot as the designated hitter. Richie Martin played shortstop. Jesús Sucre was the catcher.

The starting pitcher pops more than any other name, especially in comparison to the 2024 Orioles.

Nate Karns lasted two innings and Hyde used five relievers, beginning with Jimmy Yacabonis, to lock down a 5-3 victory. Mike Wright Jr. got the last two outs for the save.

The Orioles are prepared to go with a six-man rotation after reinstating Grayson Rodriguez from the injured list. Cole Irvin is in the bullpen temporarily, one of baseball’s hottest starters shifted to relief.

Six? Hyde was his staff were desperate to find five. Karns didn’t make it past the second week of April before his career was over.

Hyde was scrambling after Alex Cobb went on the injured list with a right groin strain. Cobb would have started Opening Day, but Andrew Cashner got the assignment in a 7-2 loss.

“It stinks, it’s just awful timing,” Hyde said on March 25, the day that Cobb was placed on the IL.

He could have stopped at “stinks” and everyone would have understood.

Having too many starters is referred to as a pleasant problem and Hyde won’t argue it. He called it “different” yesterday, but the idea is the same.

He’s lived on the other side and survived it, but the wounds remain fresh.

“Some of those names are interesting,” Hyde said yesterday when remembering the lineup that produced his first win.

“We didn’t have enough starters to start the year. It’s a lot different now than it was back then.”

John Means was in the bullpen in early 2019 and earned his first major league win in Game 3 after relieving Dylan Bundy. Means later became an All-Star and owner of a no-hitter, but the souvenir card doesn’t offer any hints to the left-hander’s future.

How often does Hyde think back to his early tenure as manager?

“I try not to,” he replied with a chuckle.

“I have some great memories of those teams, too. As tough as it was to win games, there’s some real great character guys on those teams that I still stay in touch with and appreciate very much. Losing’s hard and losing at this level is really hard. And losing when you know the other teams are more talented than you and you’re just trying to do your best and you’re just trying to play hard every single night and hopefully you win one game of the series, those were tough days. But I do have fond memories of a lot of those players.”

The Orioles haven’t been swept in 106 consecutive regular season series, the third-longest streak in baseball history. Also vastly different from the survival goals of 2019.

“A lot of the series, if we can just get one of these games, that would be fantastic and not come out of here getting swept,” Hyde said. “I wanted our guys to play hard, honestly, and do fundamental things right. We didn’t have the talent to be able to do that, but we could control our effort. I’m proud of the effort that we gave in those tough years.”

The effort is the same.

The roster issues couldn’t be less similar.

Too many starters that force the Orioles to go with a six-man rotation. Limited flexibility in the bullpen forcing them to designate high-leverage reliever Mike Baumann for assignment. Lineup talent and depth that’s keeping some prospects at Triple-A Norfolk.

Life on this side.

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