CLEVELAND - For a good portion of last night’s Orioles game here, manager Brandon Hyde saw things to like. His hitters got to Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer and the team built a 5-1 lead. Even after falling behind by 6-5, Stevie Wilkerson’s two-run double put them back ahead. It was set up to be a good night for Hyde’s rebuilding team.
But it came crashing down amid several late-game mistakes and another shaky night for the bullpen. Cleveland scored five in the last of the seventh, scoring twice on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base. Hanser Alberto should have gotten a force at home but didn’t, and the last few innings last night can’t leave a good taste in anyone’s mouth with the Orioles today.
So they can’t get that back. But they can play better tonight.
“It’s important that we bounce back,” Hyde said this afternoon in the Orioles dugout. “We’ve done a great job of that this year. Having our share of tough losses and being able to come out the next day and put it behind us. Think the mood and energy in our clubhouse is good. And I think our guys will put it behind us and are ready to play tonight.”
I asked the skipper about struggling right-hander Dan Straily. He lasted just 3 1/3, allowed four runs and his ERA is up to 8.51. Is a move to the bullpen being discussed?
“I think we are considering a bunch of things,” said Hyde. “We’d like to see Dan get back on track. He’s not had the success he wanted to have. So we’re going to consider a lot of things right now over the course of this year with a lot of guys. This is like the land of opportunity, so you’re going to get opportunity here. And we’re looking for guys to make the most of it. In Dan’s case we’re going to explore all options.”
Hyde was also asked about third baseman Rio Ruiz. He drilled a 427-foot two-run homer off Bauer last night. He’s batting .324 (12-for-37) with two homers in 11 games in May and that is the highest on the club this month. Ruiz also ranks fifth among major league third basemen in defensive runs above average (2.4) according to FanGraphs.com.
“I just see confidence at the plate,” he said. “A guy getting ABs at the major league level. And you start kind of piling up at-bats and now you start to get some past experiences to be able to go on some things. But I just see a guy playing with more confidence. I thought he always played with confidence defensively starting in spring training. And now I see a guy taking better at-bats and taking an aggressive approach on balls in the zone.”
Hyde continues to be impressed by Wilkerson, who had made some aggressive mistakes in center field. But he also had played center just twice at Triple-A before being thrown into the deep end with the Orioles. Tonight will be his 11th start in center in the majors.
“I think he’s going a great job,” said Hyde. “Tough to play center fielder in the major leagues when you have experience. And he’s got none. So to go play center in the show when you haven’t done it, I think he’s doing a fantastic job. I like his athleticism. Obviously, you want outfielders that can cover some ground and Stevie’s athletic and can run. As he gets more experience, a play like last night (he dove for a ball and missed it), that play happens again, he’ll make a better decision. He’ll do different things. You learn from game experience. Like a lot of our guys, he’ll improve because of it.”
Cleveland leads: The Indians scored an unearned run in the second to lead 1-0. After Dylan Bundy retired the first four batters, José Ramírez reached on an error by second baseman Jonathan Villar and stole second. He scored on Jake Bauers’ single. Bundy’s fastball averaged 90.2 mph and he liberally used his curve and changeup early on tonight.
Not anymore: Villar made up for that error, hitting a three-run homer to right-center in the third for a 3-1 O’s lead. It was No. 5 for Villar.
Adding on: Stevie Wilkerson’s solo homer in the fourth was his fourth and provided the Orioles a 4-1 lead.
Bundy solid: The O’s took a 4-1 lead to the seventh as Bundy allowed one unearened run over 5 2/3 innings.
And another: Wilkerson’s RBI double in the eighth made it 5-1.