Easy to overlook considering the margin, but the importance holds.
Nick Solak drew a leadoff walk, which wasn’t a bad outcome considering how he hit in the series. Logan Forsythe and Ronald Guzmán struck out and Delino DeShields lined to center fielder Austin Hays.
The walk was the first issued by Givens since Aug. 5. Nine outings in a row without a free pass. Nineteen strikeouts in his last 12 innings.
No one has scored on Givens since he blew a save against the Astros on Aug. 11. He hasn’t worked more than one inning since that night.
Manager Brandon Hyde is determined to restrict Givens to one inning, in the highest leverage situations.
“You know what? I would have liked to all year long,” Hyde said.
“The issue we’ve had this year is our bullpen numbers this year haven’t been real super for the majority of the year, and so a lot of times we would get in a problem in the eighth inning and I needed our best guy to finish that inning off with a big strikeout or getting a hot hitter out with a runner in scoring position. And the guy you would trust is Mike to do that and Mike has done that. He then had an issue going out the next inning and closing it down.
“I wanted to try to put Mike in that spot all year. However, we haven’t really had an eighth inning guy to be able to lock it down. Or then if I do use Mike, somebody else in the ninth inning to close the game out. With Hunter (Harvey), and with Miggy (Miguel Castro) now throwing the ball the way he is, I feel more comfortable doing that.”
* Hanser Alberto is stuck facing a right-hander tonight, the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler, so his opportunity to pass Ichiro Suzuki for most hits against a left-hander in a single season is put on hold.
Maybe he’ll get a southpaw reliever later tonight. Or he can wait until the Dodgers start former Orioles left-hander Rich Hill in Thursday’s series finale.
Alberto has 84 hits this season against lefties, the most since Suzuki posted the same total in 2004. Tony Gwynn had 90 in 1987.
There’s more to Alberto than just his savage treatment of southpaws, though it gets him the most recognition. He’s slashing .339/.361/.532 with 10 doubles and eight home runs in 50 games since the All-Star break.
But how about that .420 average against lefties?
* The Orioles are done expanding their September roster unless they recall reliever Tayler Scott. He was the last remaining possibility after staying down for the minimum 10 days.
Left-hander Keegan Akin was discussed, as I’ve reported, but he’s done after going 6-7 with a 4.73 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 25 games with Triple-A Norfolk. He walked 61 batters and struck out 131 in 112 1/3 innings.
“He had a great year,” said catcher Austin Wynns. “The strikeouts, All-Star. That was a great year. But he needs to get better every day. Everyone needs to get better. And he will eventually, if he keeps doing the right things, be up here. It’s just a matter of time.
“He has three pitches, he knows how to command them well. He will be a good asset as well to the team in the future.”
The Orioles want Akin to cut down on the walks. That’s part of his exit interview.
* Trey Mancini receives his “Heart and Hustle Award” from the Major League Baseball Players Association prior to tonight’s game. Former Orioles outfielder and coach Al Bumbry will present it to Mancini.
The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody its values, spirit and traditions. The overall winner will be announced on Nov. 7.
Mancini learned in July that he was chosen as the Orioles’ recipient. He was locked in a slump that saw him go hitless in 24 at-bats.
Heading into tonight’s game, Mancini has hit safely in 10 of the last 11 and is 9-for-28 (.321) this month.
* The Dodgers are making their first visit to Baltimore since 2013, where they lost two of three games. The Orioles are certain to remind them of the 1966 World Series. At least one video, right?
Darren O’Day and Wei-Yin Chen were the winning pitchers in an April 20, 2013 doubleheader. Jake Arrieta took the loss in the final game to deny a sweep.
The Dodgers whittled their magic number to one for clinching the National League West. Is it necessary to cover the lockers in plastic in the visiting clubhouse?
The Orioles are facing Buehler, their top target in Manny Machado trade talks a few winters ago. The Dodgers weren’t budging on that one.
Buehler is 12-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.036 WHIP with 28 walks and 190 strikeouts in 26 starts over 159 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run in back-to-back starts, with two walks and 19 strikeouts over 13 innings, before allowing six runs in five innings in his last outing against the Rockies.
He’s working on seven days’ rest.