The home runs puzzle Orioles reliever Travis Lakins Sr. and do considerable damage to his ERA and efficiency with inherited runners. His confidence and support system are fine, but he sees the numbers, too.
Manager Brandon Hyde praised him for saving the bullpen on the final day in Anaheim, after Chris Ellis left in the first inning with shoulder soreness and no batters retired, an entire game needing to be covered.
Ellis was charged with one run and one hit in three innings, but he entered with the bases loaded and surrendered Jo Adell’s grand slam.
Hyde appreciated how Lakins gave the Orioles two scoreless innings against the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale and regretted that an attempt to get three more outs from him with a 9-1 lead resulted in J.D. Martinez’s grand slam and a pitching change.
The bullpen shut out the Twins over five innings last night in a 9-4 win. Hyde used Cionel Pérez and Dillon Tate for two each and Jorge López for the ninth in a non-save situation. Lakins didn’t warm.
Lakins returned to the Orioles after undergoing surgery in July to address a recurrent olecranon stress fracture in his elbow. His contract was selected on April 15 when John Means went on the injured list, and in his first appearance since June 29 in Houston, he was charged with four runs and five hits in one inning against the Yankees after a 49-minute rain delay.
With Mike Baumann coming out of the game, Lakins let a runner score on Anthony Rizzo’s single, surrendered an RBI double to Giancarlo Stanton – with Rizzo thrown out at the plate – and served up Josh Donaldson’s two-run homer. Paul Fry let an inherited runner score the next inning.
Lakins allowed one home run in 23 1/3 innings with the Red Sox in 2019, two in 25 2/3 with the Orioles in 2020 and four in 28 innings last summer before the injury. He’s served up three this season in 8 1/3 and has a 9.72 ERA and 1.920 WHIP with nine runs, 12 hits, four walks and a hit batter. Opponents are batting .343.
“I would say I don’t like the outcomes of all of them,” he said yesterday afternoon, forcing a chuckle, “but I’m just out there competing every day and trying to figure it out.”
Lakins followed his rough debut with a scoreless inning in Oakland, and the emergency relief in Anaheim with a scoreless inning at Yankee Stadium – allowing a hit, walking a batter and striking out two. He retired nine of 10 batters after Adell’s slam, and the Orioles rallied to tie the game before losing 7-6.
“I feel like it’s been one pitch a couple outings and it’s really blew my stats way, a lot worse than what I’ve been pitching,” Lakins said. “I feel like I’m throwing the ball well, I feel great, and I’m prepared to pitch.”
The mistake to Adell stuck Ellis with three more earned runs. Lakins’ ERA fell from 10.08 to 8.28, but it only made him feel worse.
“The crazy thing is, I’ve never really been a home run guy,” said Lakins, who averages 0.7 per nine innings in seven minor league seasons and allowed eight in 151 innings at Ohio State.
“I’ve never really given up a lot of home runs, and I’ve given up three in, I don’t know, nine innings this year, which is well out of character for me. But I’ve got to locate my pitches better and keep improving.”
Pitching coach Chris Holt and assistant Darren Holmes have joined Hyde in making certain that Lakins is upbeat and still feels trusted. The team stayed with 14 pitchers after the roster reduction, and Lakins remained.
“They remind me all the time, ‘Hey, it’ll be all right, just keep doing what you’re doing and everything’s going to work out. Keep throwing for us.’ ”
* Another dose of morning baseball at Double-A Bowie finds DL Hall on the mound against Harrisburg. First pitch is 11:05 a.m.
Hall started last Friday for high Single-A Aberdeen in his first game after leaving extended spring training, and he tossed four scoreless innings with two hits and six strikeouts.
The Orioles kept Hall in extended spring training before beginning his affiliate climb. The first goal was the get him out of camp healthy, followed by an eventual return to Bowie.
Beyond that are an eventual promotion to Triple-A Norfolk and, if everything goes smoothly, a major league debut later in the summer.
* Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, expected to beat Hall to Baltimore, allowed two runs and five hits with two walks and 23 strikeouts in his first three starts for Norfolk totaling 14 1/3 innings. In the last two, he’s surrendered eight runs and 12 hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.
“It’s a combination of a few things,” said Norfolk pitching coach Justin Ramsey. “He’s working through that early season, I don’t want to say ‘lull,’ but everyone has those little dips, if you will, in terms of coming off spring training being a little funky and then getting a different kind of buildup because he was in major league camp. And then having that routine kind of messed up, not having your typical building. So, it makes sense that there’s going to be some bumps in the road, but he also was a little unlucky in his last couple starts.
“Obviously, he still has to make pitches afterward, but there were a couple plays that could have helped and saved some pitches for later, or prevented some of the bigger innings that unfolded, unfortunately.”