More relief help and today’s game

The Orioles are going through long relievers like Halloween candy. And if that isn’t the perfect setup for a joke, I don’t know what else to do here.

They used Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson and Vance Worley on Friday night. They optioned Wilson, called up Odrisamer Despaigne, used him for three-plus innings last night and optioned him.

Parker Bridwell has emerged as a legitimate bullpen candidate and he may have gotten the call yesterday if the Orioles decided to bring up two relievers. Healthy again after breaking a rib in May, Bridwell has moved up to Triple-A Norfolk and gone three innings in back-to-back appearances, the most recent on Tuesday in his Tides debut.

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The Orioles have always liked his arm and they put him on the 40-man roster rather than expose him in the Rule 5 draft. It’s risky to introduce a guy to the majors while the team is in a pennant race, but the bullpen includes left-hander Donnie Hart and previously included Ariel Miranda, Jayson Aquino and Ashur Tolliver, so it’s hardly a novel idea.

Mike Wright pitched Friday night in Durham and isn’t a consideration. Aquino tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings last night. Also not available.

Former Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia started Friday night at Double-A Bowie and threw five scoreless innings with only one hit allowed. Also not available.

“Hey, what about that Joe Gunkel guy?”

Well, this isn’t my mailbag day, but I do get asked about him a lot. He worked six innings Thursday night for Norfolk and isn’t available, but he’s carrying a 3.57 ERA in 25 starts and he’s only 24 years old. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts, but the Orioles would need to place him on the 40-man roster if they decided to take a look at him.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette said he’s still searching for another pitcher and would like to add an outfielder, a plus-defender and plus-runner similar to Joey Rickard. Can it be done before the deadline for players to quality for the postseason roster? Is there going to be a postseason?

The Orioles are 2 ½ games out of first place and four ahead of the fourth-place Yankees, who were sellers at the deadline. Plenty of time to climb the standings, but it won’t happen if the pitching stays this way.

Yovani Gallardo is 4-4 with a 5.18 ERA in 16 starts, not the production anticipated and needed after he signed in spring training. He’s averaging five walks per nine innings. It’s been an issue, but he’s not the only one on the staff.

You want encouragement? I’ll give you encouragement. Gallardo is 15-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 21 career starts against the Astros, his highest win total against any opponent. He’s beaten the Pirates 12 times in 17 decisions.

There’s a “however” here. The current group is batting .312 (29-for-93) against him.

Jason Castro is 8-for-21 with two doubles and a home run, Evan Gattis is 4-for-9 with a double and triple, and George Springer is 3-for-6.

With left-hander Dallas Keuchel on the mound today, manager Buck Showalter must decide whether to start or sit left fielder Hyun Soo Kim.

Keuchel won the Cy Young Award last season after going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA. He’s 7-12 with a 4.76 ERA this season in 24 starts.

Keuchel shut out the Rangers on three hits on Aug. 5, but allowed a combined 13 runs and 13 hits in 10 innings in the starts that preceded and followed. He’s carrying a 3.70 ERA in 11 home starts and a 5.74 ERA in 13 road starts.

The Orioles haven’t faced Keuchel this season. He’s 1-2 with a 3.46 ERA in four career starts against them, and he allowed four runs and six hits over eight innings in his only start at Camden Yards.

Mark Trumbo is 6-for-13 with a double, two triples and three home runs against Keuchel. Manny Machado is 4-for-12, J.J. Hardy is 3-for-9 with a double, Steve Pearce is 2-for-13 with a home run and Caleb Joseph is 2-for-7 with a home run.

Joseph remains in search of his first RBI this season. He stepped to the plate in the ninth inning last night with two runners on base and one out, fouled out to Springer in right field and destroyed his bat. The part where he snapped it in half over his knee was impressive and pretty much summed up the frustration from this homestand.

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