It’s fine to label Givens as the closer based on his team-leading four saves and how he’s the first choice to pitch last. But he won’t be saved for the saves.
Hyde trusts Givens to get the biggest outs anywhere after the sixth inning. Givens worked the eighth and ninth Wednesday night with the score tied and carried the game into extras. He’s exceeded one inning in eight of his 13 appearances.
The media tends to obsess over roles like a fat kid wants rolls. Who’s the closer, the set-up man, the lefty specialist, the long man? And no one is allowed to veer out of his lane.
These aren’t the 1997 Orioles with Armando Benítez setting up closer Randy Myers and left-hander Jesse Orosco in the fold for matchups. These aren’t the Orioles under former manager Buck Showalter with Givens and Brad Brach handing off to Darren O’Day, who handed off to Zack Britton, with left-handers Donnie Hart or Brian Matusz used for matchups, southpaw Richard Bleier entrusted with a bigger load and T.J. McFarland available to consume innings.
The bullpen is shorter on experience as the rebuild moves ahead. Hyde is learning what works.
“The role right now is when I give you the ball I’d love for you to get somebody out. That’s the role,” Hyde said before summoning left-hander Paul Fry for the seventh, Givens for the next two innings, Shawn Armstrong for the 10th and 11th and Yefry Ramirez for the decisive 12th.
“We’re so inexperienced, we have guys who are pitching in different parts of the game that everybody’s getting an opportunity. I would love to have defined roles, to be honest with you. I would love to have, ‘This is my long guy, this is my left-on-left guy, this is my left long guy who can get righties out, this is my seventh inning guy, this is my eighth inning bridge guy, this is my ninth inning guy.’ All that kind of stuff. I would love to have that laid out. It’s just not the club we are right now.
“If that forms over the course of the season, phenomenal, fantastic. But right now we’re still feeling our way a lot.”
Significant steps are being made with Ramirez and Gabriel Ynoa capable of entering games earlier as the long men and stopping the bleeding. Ynoa has been sensational with only one run allowed, one walk and 11 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The question is whether he can sustain it. We’ve seen the other side. But his fastball and slider have impressed.
Fry is the only left-hander while Bleier remains on an injury rehab assignment and he isn’t a matchup-type guy, but can work pretty much any portion of a game. Hyde is learning just how much he can trust Miguel Castro, Evan Phillips and Branden Kline and what he can get out of Armstrong, the newest addition to the bullpen.
“I’m giving guys opportunity to be a seventh or eighth inning guy or be a lock down guy,” Hyde said.
“Mychal Givens is the one with the role and Mychal Givens’ role right now is to go get me three or four of the toughest outs of the game, and that might be in the eighth and that might be in the ninth. But I would love for the other guys to take the ball and be like what Ynoa’s done the last two times and say, ‘You know what? I deserve to be here and be in these types of games. Give me the ball.’ And that would be great.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we still have a ways to go.”
Opponents are 2-for-21 against Fry at Camden Yards. The last earned run off him at home came in an Aug. 24 game against the Yankees and he owns a career 1.08 ERA in 25 1/3 innings at Camden Yards.
* Scott hasn’t shaken his struggles after reporting to Triple-A Norfolk.
Scott entered a tie game yesterday in the 10th inning against Pawtucket and surrendered a two-run homer to the first batter he faced after a runner was placed on second base per minor league rules. He walked two batters and gave up an RBI single after catcher Jesús Sucre was charged with a passed ball.
Only 12 of 24 pitches were strikes and Scott is carrying a 10.38 ERA.
* Last year’s minor league strikeout leader has resurfaced.
Right-hander Dean Kremer made his 2019 debut yesterday at Single-A Frederick, with the Keys receiving him from Double-A Bowie. He tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings against Potomac with four hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
Kremer, 23 reported to spring training with an oblique injury and had been rehabbing down in Sarasota. He didn’t throw a single pitch in the Grapefruit League.
The Orioles were eager to get him back on the mound. Part of the return from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade, Kremer posted a 2.88 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 131 1/3 combined innings with three clubs and no pitcher in the minors exceeded his 178 strikeouts.
Kremer is wearing No. 37 with Frederick, in case you want to rush out and buy a jersey. But don’t wait too long. He’s going to be rejoining the Baysox.
DL Hall earned his first save with four scoreless innings. He allowed only one hit and struck out eight.
* Norfolk outfielder DJ Stewart homered twice Wednesday night to become the first Tides player with seven RBIs since Nick Green on July 8, 2011.
Stewart came within one RBI of tying the Norfolk record held by Phil Lombardi on May 13, 1988.
The first-round pick out of Florida State University hit a three-run homer off Erasmo Ramírez in the fourth inning and a grand slam off left-hander Bobby Poyner in the sixth. He also doubled and walked.
Stewart went 1-for-4 yesterday with a double and RBI.
* The Yankees selected left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr.’s contract yesterday from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, allowing him to get back to the majors for the first time since the Orioles chose him in the Rule 5 draft at the 2018 Winter Meetings.
Cortes lasted only four games and compiled a 7.71 ERA and 3.00 WHIP in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs and 10 hits with four walks and opponents hit .455.
The Yankees brought up Cortes after he went 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in six games (five starts).
The Orioles selected Cortes and pitchers Pedro Araujo and Jose Mesa Jr. at the Winter Meetings. Mesa didn’t make it out of spring training before going back to the Yankees. Araujo remains in the organization after the Orioles designated him for assignment in April and worked out a trade with the Cubs.
Here are the starters for the series against the Angels at Camden Yards: