Brooks is back on the mound tonight after allowing six runs Saturday against the Rangers prior to recording his first out. He was gone after 2 2/3 innings.
The previous start wasn’t as bad, but Brooks lasted only 4 1/3 innings in Kansas City and he’s carrying a 7.54 ERA and 1.676 WHIP into tonight’s game since joining the Orioles.
“The last two starts he’s had a tough time getting through the first inning, so it would be nice to see him start the game off throwing strikes,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
“Would love to see him have a clean first inning. I think that’s really important. He’s just had a rough go of finding command and falling behind hitters and then having to come in the middle part of the plate in hitters’ counts, especially in the first inning.
“Great to see him come out and hopefully give us a scoreless first.”
Brooks has allowed 22 runs in the first inning this season and 13 in the second.
The Orioles will try to avoid finishing with the worst record in baseball - the Tigers are 3 1/2 games behind them - but Hyde repeated that he’s more interesting in the quality of play.
It has been lacking again lately.
“We just played a series where we had an opportunity to win a couple games by playing a better brand of baseball and not making mistakes and some things that we just talked about as a club,” Hyde said. “The importance of not making outs on the bases and catching the ball on defense and little things that we’ve harped on all year long.
“So to play these last few weeks, clean baseball, that will lead to some wins and that’s what’s important to me.”
Hyde’s focus on individuals and how they perform intensifies as the season winds down. He wants to provide at-bats for certain guys, wants to get a feel for whether someone could be a contributor in 2020 or at least heading into spring training.
“I’m trying to get everybody in there,” he said. “I’m trying to play as many people as possible. You saw a completely different lineup today than you saw yesterday.
“We have a lot of players and it’s not easy to shuffle around, but there’s a lot of guys we want to take good looks at and see how they play here in the big leagues. So I’m going to continue to move guys around and play people as much as I can.”
The bullpen is holding 14 relievers for the Tigers series.
Keeping guys sharp is a challenge, but Hyde will take the expanded freedom to make moves.
“I’m still trying to win the game, so there are certain guys I’m going to use in certain spots,” Hyde said.
“The game’s close or on the line, we have the lead, I’m pitching Mike (Givens) in the eighth or ninth inning. So yeah, I’m going to still run the bullpen by trying to win the game and try to give us the best matchup possible. But that being said, you do want to try to see as many people as possible.
“A few nights ago everybody had one inning pretty much out of the ‘pen to kind of give them a fresh inning, and they all did a nice job doing it. It’s just a total evaluation month while trying to win.”
Orioles relievers lead the majors with a 2.87 ERA in 75 1/3 innings since Aug. 20. They’ve recorded 73 strikeouts with 25 walks for a 2.92 K/BB ratio that’s the fourth-best mark in the American League during that span.
Left-hander Paul Fry is trying to get back to form. He’s 1-8 with a 5.05 ERA and 1.413 WHIP in 58 appearances over 51 2/3 innings and is averaging 4.4 walks per nine innings.
Fry allowed one run and three hits with 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings in July, but he registered an 8.38 ERA and 1.759 WHIP in 9 2/3 innings in August and has surrendered three runs and five hits with two walks in only 1 1/3 innings this month.
He’s failed to retire a batter in three of the five outings and hasn’t pitched since Sunday.
“For me, he’s had such good stretches,” Hyde said. “There’s a time there when that left-handed slider against left-handed hitters was unhittable. And now it’s about being consistent.
“He’s just had a few rough outings. A lot of relievers go through that over the course of the year. I’ve tried to give him a little bit of a break, but you’ll see him back out there in leverage spots against left-handers.
“It’s about just being consistent and you’ll see him back in there.”
Update III: Jordy Mercer and Willi Castro had RBI singles in the sixth to reduce the lead to 4-2. Shawn Armstrong let an inherited runner score after replacing Brooks.
Update IV: Mancini hit a two-run homer in the seventh for a 6-2 lead.