This, that and the other

While evaluating reliever Fernando Abad’s spring training, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde must separate bad pitches from bad luck.

Abad, trying to make the club as a non-roster invite, has appeared in five games and allowed five earned runs (eight total) and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings for a 10.38 ERA. He’s walked two batters and struck out five.

The defense behind him has been brutal in at least two of those games.

Abad replaced Dean Kremer on Friday night after two errors were committed in the fourth. He induced a ground ball to Freddy Galvis, whose errant throw produced his second error of the inning.

Galvis didn’t cut off a ball on Todd Frazier’s single, which allowed both runners to take an extra base. Rio Ruiz’s throw to the plate apparently was a little off the mark as the tying run scored - media was relying on the radio feed - and catcher Pedro Severino committed his second error of the night when he dropped Abad’s throw to give the Pirates a 7-6 lead.

Frazier followed with a sacrifice fly. Abad should have been back in the dugout.

“That was just a bad luck inning,” Hyde said yesterday in his Zoom call. “Seemed like couldn’t stop the momentum there. ... The comebacker that Abad didn’t help himself out with kind of spiked it to Sevie for the out at the plate. It just wasn’t a good inning for us and Abad unfortunately was on the mound for it, so I just watch his stuff.”

The teams met on Monday at Ed Smith Stadium and Abad preserved the lead with a runner on third base and one out.

In a March 7 game against the Pirates in Bradenton, I wrote: “The defense was unreliable again today. Infield hits that could have been outs. ... Shortstop Ramón Urías committed two errors, the second coming in the fourth inning when the Pirates scored five runs off left-hander Fernando Abad for a 10-0 lead.”

The error must have been changed to a hit, because all five runs are now earned.

Abad went back-to-back by pitching in yesterday’s intrasquad game.

“He threw the ball well,” Hyde said. “We know his track record, we know he’s got a really good arm with a good changeup and tough on left-handers. I just chalk (Friday) night up to a bad inning.”

Tate-Pitches-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpg* Dillon Tate has logged scoreless innings in his last two appearances. He struck out three Yankees last night after hitting Gary Sánchez to lead off the ninth.

Armando Alvarez and Mike Ford were called out on strikes and Chris Gittens went down swinging.

“I think D-Tate’s had a pretty good camp so far,” Hyde said. “He had one bad outing and an unlucky inning, but besides that ... He ran a ball in that hit Sánchez that first at-bat, then he ran the count to 3-0 the next hitter with some bad misses, then he came back and punched him out and punched out the next two on six or seven pitches.

“Mid-90s sinking fastball, threw a couple good sliders tonight. He was up to 99 (mph) his last appearance. Think he was sitting 93-95 today, but the ball had a lot of life. And he was into it tonight, he was competitive tonight, and I think he kind of took that as a regular season-type outing. It was good to see.”

Tate earned his first save in a 2-1 win.

“He pitched with a one-run lead. Even though it’s a spring training game, I’m sure he had the adrenaline up. He was probably just a little too excited facing Sánchez there in the first, the first hitter he faced, but he really settled down after that 3-0 count.

Austin Wynns, great job of going out, a well-timed mound visit and got him back in the strike zone and punched out the next three.”

* Hyde notices the changes in John Means on the mound since they first met. The increased velocity on his fastball, the plus changeup. But there are other traits that appeal to him, that make Means special on the staff and inside the clubhouse.

“Just getting older, understanding the ropes a little bit, understanding how to get ready, taking on a little bit more of a leadership role this year just because we’re so inexperienced,” Hyde said.

“We have a lot of young pitchers here, some guys in their first major league camps. John has done a nice job of really having guys follow his lead and how he goes about his day and what kind of pro he is.”

There are veteran pitchers in camp who are more qualified based on experience - and for some, their accomplishments - but it only takes a season or two in the majors to qualify as mentor material in Baltimore. Especially in a rotation that could include three rookies: Kremer, Keegan Akin and Bruce Zimmermann.

“I’m going to always be here for them if they have any questions,” Means said. “But with the guys that we have, I have a lot of confidence that they’re doing really well for themselves. There’s definitely going to be some times that I’m going to have to step in and kind of guide them through the struggles, because I’ve seen a lot these last couple of years. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I think that offers a lot to these young kids and I look forward to doing it.”

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