Givens provides the bullpen innings and leadership

Right-handed reliever Mychal Givens made some fans nervous when he struggled badly early in spring training. Then Givens had an ERA of 5.00 after his first seven regular-season appearances.

But he looks locked in now. He fanned two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels in his latest strong outing. He was throwing mid-90s heat with a solid slider. Over his last seven games, Givens has an ERA of 0.93. He’s thrown 9 2/3 innings, allowing one run and six hits while getting 10 strikeouts. He’s fanned six in 4 1/3 his past three outings.

Mychal-Givens-Pumps-Fist-After-Save-Gray-Sidebar.jpgGivens has been doing some heavy lifting out of the Orioles bullpen, pitching in high-leverage situations and used sometimes before the ninth inning. He’s pitched 1 1/3 or more eight times in 14 games. He’s had four outings this season where he has thrown 30 or more pitches.

“I think it’s the same challenge that I’ve gone through,” Givens said of being used that way when I interviewed him a few days ago. “Nothing different. I just need to keep carrying myself as the guy in the bullpen with the (most) service time and mold our bullpen. Just want to see our bullpen become the strength of the team again. Just want to set an example like was done for me. With guys like Zack Britton, Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz. They taught me about pitching out of the ‘pen and to have confidence and pride. It’s not also about how your ERA looks, but also inherited runners. We need to keep guys from scoring. That is the important thing. We just need to keep doing what we are doing and have fun.”

Givens has embraced being a leader for the bullpen. He was once the young guy, but not anymore. He learned from the previous group of bullpen pitchers.

“They were there for me and had confidence in me,” he said. “Darren (O’Day) was a big leader to me. He said that things I did in 2015 and 2016 helped them to save our bullpen. Now teaching these other guys that if they don’t have a defined role, just help our bullpen however possible.”

Givens isn’t worried about those longer outings he’s been called on to pitch.

“I bounce back pretty well. It depends. It’s early now and I bounce back well. I think Doug Brocail and Brandon Hyde are really good about communicating with us. That is the best we can ask of them: to communicate with everyone in our ‘pen. This has been a great staff to be around - because of that communication,” Givens said.

About last night: The Orioles were rained out last night in New York. But at least they didn’t have to wait around all day for that to happen. Oh wait, check that.

Hopefully, they’ll get in three games there over the next two days. With a single game tonight and doubleheader on Wednesday. The Yankees (24-16) are going to present a real challenge for the young Birds.

The Yankees have won six of eight and are 16-6 the last 22 games. They are 10-3 in their past 13 home games. And they are 8-3 in American League East games. Plus, New York has won three straight series and seven of the last eight. But other than that ...

They’ve done that with an injured list that includes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Miguel Andújar and Troy Tulowitzki. So, they’ve been pretty impressive.

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