ARLINGTON, Texas—Ever since the Orioles traded Zach Britton to the New York Yankees, fans have been wondering who the Orioles would use as their closer. Brad Brach was the natural choice, but there weren’t any games to close between the time Britton was dealt and Brach was traded to Atlanta five days later.
Much of the speculation centered on Mychal Givens, who’s the only reliever on the staff with a save. Others thought that Tanner Scott or even Mike Wright Jr. would get a shot.
The Orioles didn’t need a closer in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers, and before the game, manager Buck Showalter indicated that he hadn’t made up his mind.
“Right now, the challenge has been able to get to that situation,” Showalter said.
“Some people that I’d like to see in that situation — one, we have to create that situation, and two, sometimes you have to use people you want to see in that situation to get to that situation.
“It’s not something I’m going to announce and anoint them, kind of pick and choose. We’ll get enough looks at it to get a feel. More than anything, I want when this year’s over to get ahead of the curve on some things we have to make decisions about in the offseason. These opportunities …t o see them in this environment are going to be gone at some point.”
This week, the Orioles brought two right-handers to the major leagues, Cody Carroll and Evan Phillips, who were obtained in the trades for Britton and Gausman.
Carroll has pitched two scoreless innings in two appearances, allowing one hit. Phillips threw two perfect innings on Friday night.
Could Showalter be tempted to use one of them as a closer since there isn’t an obvious choice?
“Sure, right now I’m just figuring out how to get to a close situation,” Showalter said. “Let’s see if Joe Blow can close. Wait a minute, we didn’t pitch him in the seventh and the eighth inning. Now, we don’t have a close situation.”
Givens retired all three batters he faced when he pitched the eighth. His ERA is 4.83, typically not one you’d see in a closer. But with Brach, Britton and Darren O’Day traded and Richard Bleier injured, Givens has the most experience among the relievers.
“Who knows? We might get a closer situation and Mike gets the ball and all of a sudden and be, ‘oh wow, that’s a little different guy,’” Showalter said.
“Mike’s challenge has been his inconsistency. He’s another guy, you go back through his outings and look where he’s trying to go and where he’s getting the ball, and it’s no surprise why he’s having some struggles.”
Bundy a hard-luck loser
Dylan Bundy gave up a two-run home run to Joey Gallo, who’s homered in each of the three Orioles losses to Texas in this series. Bundy was charged with just one earned run in six innings because Adrian Beltre reached on a error by Renato Nunez and scored on the home run.
Bundy is 7-10 with a 4.38 ERA, and Gallo’s homer was the 27th he’s allowed, most in the majors. Even though he threw well, the outing didn’t please him.
“No, I got the loss,” Bundy said. “Not happy about it at all. But it was a little bit better. Only left one ball over the plate instead of three, it seems like the last two outings. Just trying to execute pitches one pitch at a time.”
Showalter thought Bundy pitched well.
“Another start that our starting pitcher deserved to win the game,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of those. That’s why I’ve been saying that the loss column for a starting pitcher is very deceiving, especially in a year like this.”
Mark Trumbo had two of the Orioles’ five hits on Saturday, and his seventh-inning single not only drove in the team’s only run but gave Trumbo his 1,000th hit.
The 32-year-old slugger, who got his first hit in this ballpark on Oct. 3, 2010, was thrilled with the achievement.
“That is pretty cool,” Trumbo said. “I actually like this one a little bit more than some of the other things I’ve done. Unfortunate that it didn’t contribute to a win tonight, but it’s pretty special to me.”
Showalter has grown to admire Trumbo’s game.
“It’s a reminder of how consistent Mark’s been through his career, 1,000 hits reminds you,” Showalter said. “A really consistent human being and a consistent player. I thought that was a nice moment. It’s a big milestone.”
Trumbo led the major leagues in home runs with 47 in 2016 and is more well known as a long-ball hitter than a contact one.
“I guess I’ve always kind of been known for the power-hitting type stuff,” Trumbo said. “I’ve always tried to be able to help the team and stay competitive. I know people don’t care about the batting average, but it still matters. It’s important. It was a two-strike hit today, and it drove in a run. There’s probably been a few of those throughout the way, and I guess 1,000 is just a nice round number.”
Honoring a Hall-of-Famer
The Rangers honored Vladimir Guerrero, who entered the Hall of Fame last Sunday. Guerrero played his final season in 2011 with the Orioles, and was with Texas in 2010.
“I miss his mom’s cooking,” Adam Jones said. Jones played with Guerrero in 2011.
“He brought in big bags every day of food. He played the game hard. He was the ultimate veteran, commanded respect, got respect. Just a prime example of what to do between the lines.”
A Guerrero bobblehead was given to fans attending the game.
Jones and Showalter were among the Orioles to exchange warm greetings with Guerrero. Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon and Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez, who is now a Rangers broadcaster, were on the field with Guerrero.