Brandon Hyde can live with the losses because he has no choice and understands they’re part of the rebuilding process. He knows the deal. They’re a necessary evil.
It’s sloppy play in the field and on the basepaths that can irk the Orioles manager and test his patience, with last night’s ugly loss to the White Sox a prime example.
Hyde keeps pushing for improvements, looking for the incremental steps that lead to better days.
Within the first three innings tonight, he saw Rule 5 shortstop Richie Martin make a diving stop while shifted to the right side of the infield to rob Yonder Alonso and save a run, Trey Mancini race back to the warning track and reach over his head to haul in Welington Castillos’ fly ball and strand two, Dwight Smith Jr. time his leap perfectly at the left field fence while on the dead run to deny Adam Engel of a two-run homer and Mancini jump again at the edge of the track in right-center to rob José Abreu.
Joey Rickard and Chris Davis had back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second, and the former drew a throw from Engel in center field that sailed into the visiting dugout and gave the Orioles an early lead. Martin laid down a bunt despite being jammed by an Iván Nova pitch, and his attempt at a sacrifice turning into an infield hit.
Jonathan Villar laid out to make a diving stop and throw in the eighth with the Orioles ahead by eight runs.
These are the moments that Hyde will embrace, the ones that will allow him to sleep better at night. That will satisfy his competitive nature as he smartly continues to focus on the bigger picture.
Renato Núñez and Davis homered in the third inning, Smith and Rickard homered in the fourth, Andrew Cashner carried a shutout in the sixth and the Orioles won at home for the second time in 12 games, 9-1 over the White Sox before an announced crowd of 8,953 at Camden Yards.
Everyone in the lineup reached base by the fourth and catcher Jesús Sucre was the only starter without a hit, though he walked and was drilled on the left elbow by a 93 mph fastball from Carson Fulmer.
Fortunately, it wasn’t his pitching arm.
All nine runs and 11 hits were packed into four innings against Nova.
Cashner went seven innings, the longest outing by an Orioles pitcher this season, and held the White Sox to one run and five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Yoán Moncada led off the sixth with a triple and scored on Tim Anderson’s single, but the Orioles turned a 4-5-3 double play to end the inning.
Eighty-eight pitches through the sixth left room for Cashner to come back out and he finished at 100. His four victories match his 2018 total.
The first three innings concluded with the Orioles (9-16) making a stellar play in the field - Mancini twice and Smith with his web gem. Cashner waited in front of the dugout to show his appreciation.
Núñez received some love of his own with his 421-foot solo shot to left field, the exit velocity measured by Statcast at 111 mph. He’s tied with Mancini for the team lead in home runs with six and ranked first in RBIs with 17, the designated hitter slot in the lineup seemingly in good hands, until Smith passed him at 18.
Rio Ruiz singled and Davis hit his second home run of the season, going to left-center field and increasing the lead to 4-0. Davis began the night 10-for-35 with four home runs and 11 RBIs lifetime against Nova, and he singled and homered in his first two at-bats.
The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the second after Rickard scored on the error, which he forced by faking a sprint to third, but Villar bounced back to Nova for a 1-2-3 double play and Mancini grounded out.
Building on the lead would have to wait an inning.
Smith’s towering fly ball almost brought rain along with three runs. He stood at the plate, bat raised, and waited for it to land above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field.
Owner of two career home runs entering 2019, Smith hit five with the Orioles in an abbreviated spring training and has five in the regular season.
Ruiz walked and Rickard increased the lead to 9-0 with a liner to left that cleared the fence. The White Sox bullpen finally began to stir.
Martin committed two errors last night, an uncharacteristic decline in defense, but he made the nifty stop in the first tonight and started a 6-5-3 double play to end the fourth after shifting again against former Orioles minor leaguer Nicky Delmonico.
Part of the evaluation process with Martin involves how he handles adversity, whether at the plate or in the field. He reacted as Hyde and his coaching staff had hoped.
The entire team rebounded in impressive fashion.
Hyde on bounceback win: “We played really well (in) all three phases tonight. It was obviously a really well-pitched game by Cashner, giving us what we needed, which was some length, seven innings, seven great innings. Really threw the ball well. And how about our defense? First few innings, Smitty robbing that ball over the fence, Trey making a really nice play going back on a ball. Johnny later in the game. Our defense was really good tonight. Rio, that catch in the ninth inning. Kind of a tough night for him physically. I thought we played the game really well. One of our better efforts of the year.”
Hyde on winning at home: “Yeah, it feels good. I feel like I don’t come in here after a win very often. It was nice to play really well at home. Cash set the tone. When we got the lead he really pounded the strike zone. He had great mix to his pitches, his changeup was really good. Hit 95 late in the game. Just a really good effort by everybody.”
Hyde on only Orioles hitting home runs: “I thought we swung the bat really well tonight. We had a lot of really good at-bats. Nunie continues to swing the bat well, Smitty is swinging the bat well, Johnny’s setting the table at the top. Trey is, what a pro. He’s just scratching the surface on what kind of hitter he can be. He just takes really good at-bats and grinds. And Rio, too. Rio’s starting to swing the bat well.”
Hyde on Davis’ improvements: “I think it’s probably pretty natural to press early. A lot of stuff that he was having to answer to, and maybe pressing to get off to a good start and it doesn’t happen and then having to answer about not getting a hit and all those things that were going on with him the first couple of weeks. I think now you see a little more confident guy at the plate. Love the way he drove the ball to left-center. Stay through the middle on the first signal and drive the ball to left-center. When he’s doing that obviously he’s right. I’d like to see more of that. I think C.D. is feeling more confident. He’s feeling more comfortable. Kind of letting the game happen now instead of forcing the issue. Great to see.”
Cashner on his start: “I felt good. I thought the first three innings I wasn’t very good. I thought too many balls left middle. I thought the defense really picked me up. Richie in the first inning and then Dwight’s rob and then Trey’s big pickup out there in the outfield. It allowed me to get into a rhythm, started attacking the hitters. I thought my curveball and my changeup really got a lot better as the game went on and I started locating my fastball.”
Cashner on run support: “Yeah, I mean, it’s huge. It allows you to go out there and kind of pitch the game that you want to pitch.”
Cashner on equaling last year’s win total: “To me, I think the game’s kind of changed. I don’t think wins and losses really matter anymore. I think you look at the body of work I’ve done over my career, I think I’ve had a lot of quality starts and not a lot of wins to show for it. I think it’s kind of a biased stat. I think quality starts matter more.”
Cashner on needing to get deep in game: “I think it’s been a tough series for us, a tough homestand, so I think any time you can go out and give some guys some rest, I think it’s a breath of fresh air for a lot of guys.”
Cashner on how much fun game was for them: “It starts with the home runs. The big home run was Dwight’s, the three-run homer. And then Joey’s later in the game. Núñez with the solo homer to give a 2-0 lead, it kind of gives you a little bit of a cushion. I thought defense, swinging the bats, it was fun to watch. And C.D.’s home run, too. That was a big home run, too.”
Cashner on his reaction to Smith’s catch: “It was a huge catch. I made a bad pitch, changeup down the middle and I think that’s one of the pitches that guy beats you on, it’s a big change in the game.”
Cashner on importance of improved defense tonight: “I think the biggest thing last time was pitching behind a lot. When you leave your defense out there for a while and they have time to stand around it doesn’t go as well. I think as pitchers, if we can get ahead more, our defense will make a lot of plays.”
Cashner on team’s ability to turn the page: “I just think we’ve played a lot of inconsistent baseball. I think we’ve shown some flashes of being really good in some certain areas and I just think we’ve been really inconsistent. I think the biggest thing for us is trying to find a way to be more consistent. If we can be more consistent I think we’ll be a pretty good ballclub.”
Smith on his hitting: “I’m just having fun, just playing the game the way I’ve always played as a kid.”
Smith on whether he knew all along he’d make the catch: “I didn’t know how far it was going to go, but as soon as I saw it dropping down I knew I had a chance at it. I remember early in the season I had a chance at one and I worked with Arnie (Beyeler) on it because the track’s kind of shorter than normal, so I just timed it right.”
Smith on rest of defense: “We’re all playing as a unit. Everybody. Infield, outfield, the catchers. We’re playing great defense right now and it’s showing. We take pride in it and we work on it every single day.”
Smith on whether he knows how many homers Engel has robbed: “I’ve seen him rob a couple homers. He probably doesn’t like sitting on the other side of that.”
Smith on playing every day: “I’ve been used to playing every day since I got drafted. It’s nothing different to me. Just a bigger stage, just got to stay calm at all times and just be the same person that you always were.”