The Orioles closed out their road trip yesterday with the bullpen tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings. One inherited runner crossed the plate in a 3-0 loss to the Marlins.
Relievers began the day with a 3.55 ERA that ranked sixth in the American League and eighth in the majors. Opponents were batting .228. They left Miami with the ERA down to 3.38.
Cole Sulser was responsible for the inherited runner scoring on Adam Duvall’s two-out single, but he hasn’t allowed a run of his own in 4 1/3 innings while bouncing from the alternate site to the taxi squad to the major league roster. He’s walked none, a necessary improvement after averaging 6.8 per nine innings last summer, and struck out seven.
“He just left a slider there to Duvall that caught too much of the plate,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
“Probably wishes he would have located that slider better, maybe gone to the split there against Duvall. Just kind of figured he’d go to the split. But what lost us the game is we didn’t score. We lost two games on the road trip and were shut out in both.”
Shawn Armstrong was solid and dependable last summer when healthy, appearing in 14 games and allowing three earned runs in 15 innings. The 0.800 WHIP was the lowest of his career, though accomplished in a shortened season. But he’s struggling in 2021 with eight earned runs (nine total), nine hits and five walks in four innings.
He was scored upon in his first four appearances. The two home runs surrendered are one more than last season. All four inherited runners have scored after he stranded 11 of 13 in 2020.
Armstrong’s family life is wonderful. He’s a new father, with son Declan Cutter a blessing to the reliever and wife Sarah. Now he’s hoping to feel good again about the baseball side of it.
Brought into Tuesday night’s game with a 6-3 lead, Armstrong loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning and Adam Plutko let two inherited runners score. Armstrong was furious at plate umpire Mike Muchlinski and voiced it on his way to the dugout after a walk.
“He’s just trying to work through it,” Hyde said. “(Tuesday) night, I thought it was a good spot. He had the bottom of the order - seven, eight, nine. Three-run lead, kind of give him a little bit of a cushion and he just kind of struggled with command there. Gave up a single, a couple walks. I know he’s frustrated.
“Shawn threw the ball great for us last year and threw in all different sorts of ... I brought him in with traffic, I pitched him late in a game, I brought him in the middle part of a game, and he did a really nice job for us last season. He just needs to get back to that form. He’s trying to find it right now and he’s just struggling a little bit, but he’s going to continue to get thrown out there because we need him.”
* The Orioles are off again today, but Trey Mancini should be in Friday night’s lineup. He’s appeared in all 18 games, including his pinch-hit single in the 10th inning Sunday in Texas. There hasn’t been a reason to slow-play him after he missed the 2020 season.
The bat is heating up and the body is holding up.
Mancini believes that he can remain an everyday presence in the order. No need for special treatment after an entire summer of chemotherapy and recovery from Stage 3 colon cancer.
“Yeah, I truly do,” he said. “I don’t feel any more sore or anything like that after games or tired. I wake up ready to go the next day.
“I definitely try to take care of myself. Not that I didn’t before, but doing foam roll stuff and soft tissue, things like that. Part of that is being 29 now, too, along with what I went through last year, so it’s kind of a combo, but I’ve tried to stay on top of it because I want to be out there every day. I want to appear in every game if I can.”
There’s a lot of shuffling in the cards.
“I understand that we have a lot of great outfielders and guys that can play defense, guys that can hit, so that’s all you can ask for as far as an organizational standpoint, to have a lot of depth in the outfield,” Hays said. “So it’s up to the manager and GM to make those decisions. That’s not our job. Our job is to just show up to the field and be ready to play under any circumstance, any position, wherever that finds me, whether it’s late in games, starting games.
“As long as I’m on the team and I can get out there on the field and help the team win, I’m here for it.”
* Whenever Hyde is asked about his catchers’ work behind the plate and the struggles they might be encountering, he tends to steer the conversation back to his pitchers. To where he thinks it belongs.
To the challenges they can present, and in a good way if relating to the stuff they bring to the mound.
“It’s league-wide for me,” he said.
“We have some guys that are really tough to catch. Tanner Scott’s slider at 93 (mph) underneath the zone is not easy to block or anticipate. I could probably talk about this for a while, coming from a guy that sat back there. The receiving metrics are different now, so you see all sorts of different setups. There are a lot of one-knee setups around the league, because the value of receiving the low strike is so important in a lot of ways. So the traditional block first, receive second with a runner on base, I’m not saying I agree with this, but I’m saying philosophies have changed from the catching position.”
Severino had five passed balls last summer, tied for most in the American League.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. swiped second base yesterday on a very close play, making Severino 0-for-6 on attempted steals, but Sisco is 3-for-3. The league average success rate yesterday was 19 percent.
Sisco’s three caught stealings tied for most in the majors yesterday.