Orioles praising ‘pen while also searching for more substantial starts

The glass is half full or half empty. The viewpoint is up for debate.

An Orioles bullpen providing outstanding coverage in games and a rotation unable to work beyond the middle innings. One is lauded, the other lectured.

Relievers tossed four scoreless innings Saturday night against the Nationals to seal a 7-3 win, after Asher Wojciechowski threw one pitch in the sixth and watched the ball sail over the left field fence.

Jorge López made his Orioles debut yesterday and walked off the mound for the last time with only one run surrendered in four innings. Evan Phillips let an inherited runner score.

John Means was on a shortened leash yesterday, but managed only two outs to get the bullpen busy earlier than anticipated. He wasn’t going to work deep in his first outing in 12 days, the limit apparently just two innings.

Tommy Milone is the only Orioles starter to complete six innings, tossing six scoreless on Aug. 7 in D.C.

Scott-Tanner-Delivers-at-White-Sox-Gray-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles began yesterday with their starters accumulating 90 innings to rank 18th in the majors and ninth in the American League. The Blue Jays were last with 70 1/3.

The bullpen, meanwhile, totaled 86 innings to rank 11th in the majors and eighth in the American League. The biggest burdens fell upon two other division teams - the Red Sox with 102 2/3 and the Rays with 101 1/3. Indians relievers worked only 56 1/3.

Manager Brandon Hyde likes the bullpen’s resurgence after last year’s constant implosions but would appreciate if his starters could ease the burden. They’ve moved through the grace period following the lengthy shutdown and summer training camp.

“That would be nice,” Hyde said yesterday. “That would give our bullpen guys a little bit of a break. But they’re throwing the ball very, very well.

“I’m really impressed with our bullpen and I hope it continues.”

The production, not the workload.

Tanner Scott retired all five batters he faced in routine fashion Saturday night during a crucial juncture and has allowed one run and two hits with 11 strikeouts in eight innings. The fastball and slider are filthy.

As a friend texted on Saturday, “He’s dotting 99.” Scott also is becoming more intriguing to other teams as the trade deadline approaches.

The difference in Scott this year?

“Just strikes. Strikes and confidence,” Hyde said.

“They cleaned up his delivery a little bit. If you look at video from last year to this year it’s a lot different. He’s kind of moving down the slope quicker, getting his arm up quicker. It’s not just a high leg kick and a pause with a long arm swing. He’s getting down the slope quicker and speeding his arm up and he’s being able to repeat it a lot easier. And he’s got a lot of confidence with it and he’s got a good fastball and slider right now.”

The Orioles announced their starters for the Blue Jays series - Alex Cobb tonight, Wade LeBlanc on Tuesday and Milone on Wednesday. Thomas Eshelman has moved to the bullpen.

Hyun Jin Ryu is starting tonight for Toronto.

Meanwhile, Hyde is going to sit Hanser Alberto for a game to provide some rest. He’s just got to find the strength to do it.

Alberto is making it hard to exclude his name from the lineup. Prior to going 0-for-5 yesterday, he had built a nine-game hitting streak and produced 11 doubles that led the majors. He also ranked first in the American League with 10 multi-hit games and tied for first with 30 hits and 17 runs.

His .345 average placed him third.

He’s always going to rate highly with Hyde.

“He’s fun to talk about because he’s fun to watch play,” Hyde said. “He’s fun in the clubhouse, he’s fun on the field, he brings an energy wherever he is, a positive energy. Doesn’t ever want to come out of the lineup. I’ve got to try to find a day for him at some point. I feel like I’m running him into the ground a little bit, but he’s just playing so well.

“The at-bats are very, very competitive, he’s playing a solid second base. You’ve seen a bunch of double plays that he’s turned in the last four or five days that have been exceptional. Just got great hands and footwork around the base.

“He is our catalyst, and when he goes, we go. He’s involved in a lot of our big innings and starting rallies, so he’s just a great guy to have on the club and I’m really happy with his success and it’s been fun to watch.”

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