Orioles waiting for pitching returns while getting plenty of results from others

The last four lockers in a row inside the Orioles clubhouse that lead to the entrance to the bathroom and shower area have nameplates above them for John Means, Mychal Givens, Dillon Tate and Cole Irvin.

The first three pitchers are on the injured list, with Means assigned to the 60-day after spring training. Irvin was optioned on April 14 after making three starts.

Those empty spaces will be filled again, but probably on four different days.

Means makes the occasional appearance, and he’s full-go in his bullpen sessions. The team has been targeting a July return for their ace – plenty of time to figure out how he fits.

Tate is beginning his injury rehab assignment Tuesday with high Single-A Aberdeen, and Givens is supposed to start his own later in the week.

Irvin’s return is harder to project. His demotion isn’t health related and there are different factors in play, including his results with Triple-A Norfolk and when the Orioles can create room for him.

Irvin is listed as today’s starter against Rochester. His first appearance with the Tides was Tuesday against the Red Wings, and he allowed two runs and seven hits with one walk and two strikeouts in six innings.

“Looks like he threw the ball well," manager Brandon Hyde told the assembled media in D.C. after reading the report. "A bunch of strikes. Good to see him throw almost 100 pitches, which is fantastic. Love when those guys go down and throw a lot of pitches and stay built up. Felt like he threw well last night.”

The Orioles never set a specific number of starts for Irvin before recalling him. It can’t be done. He allowed 15 runs and 17 hits with eight walks in 12 2/3 innings, totally unlike his strike-thrower reputation. The assignment in Triple-A could be brief or extended.

A streak of 35 scoreless innings in a row that ended Friday night in the ninth, and the 30 consecutive innings from the starters that was snapped last night in the seventh – which the Elias Sports Bureau insists is 29 2/3 because Zach McKinstry’s homer erases the first out – has eased concerns over the pitching staff and reduced the motivation to make more changes. Perhaps the Orioles stand pat through the rest of the month if their physical state allows it.

The keepers can come out of nowhere.

Yennier Cano retired five more batters last night, fanning three and throwing 12 of 19 pitches for strikes. He’s retired all 17 that he’s faced since his promotion, the most in club history by a reliever to begin a season since Fred Holdsworth set the record with 24 in July 1976.

The Orioles acquired Holdsworth, a Michigan native, from the Tigers in 1975 for reliever Bob Reynolds. They dealt him to the Expos two years later for a player to be named later who turned into pitcher Dennis Blair, who never pitched for the Orioles.

I have no recollection of this. And I digress …

Per STATS, Cano has passed Rick Bauer, who began 2003 with 14 consecutive scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

“The last couple of weeks in spring training, I felt like there was a different mentality with him,” Hyde said yesterday afternoon. “He was more aggressive in the strike zone. Whether he figured it out in some side sessions, whatever happened there, you saw him throw more strikes.

“That was always the thing with him. Is he going to throw enough strikes, because his stuff moves all over the place. If you look at some of his outings with us last year, just high pitch counts, long innings. If you look at his last two appearances, it’s five pitches and nine pitches. Obviously, he’s getting early swings and he’s working ahead in the count. That’s the key for him.”

Left-hander Danny Coulombe was acquired from the Twins at the end of spring training. He tossed a scoreless ninth last night and has allowed only one run and three hits with one walk and 11 strikeouts in eight innings. Opponents are batting .111 against him.

The Orioles got him for cash considerations. The Twins might want to reconsider making that trade.

This is Coulombe’s sixth organization. The Yankees signed him, released him and signed him again after the Brewers signed and released him. The Dodgers drafted him twice. The Twins signed him four times.

What a crazy and dizzying journey to get to the Orioles. He’s certainly been turning heads since his arrival.

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