Orioles don't have a closer, nor any games to close - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles don’t have a closer, nor any games to close

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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.

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“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.”

Trumbo’s 1k

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.

 

 

 

 

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. TxBirdFan

    August 5, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Defense hurt us again last night. Valencia sailed a throw to first that allowed Beltre to get on base ahead of Gallo’s homer. It was a easy play that he botched. Beckham and Villar also missed balls that the scorekeeper generously called hits. Manny and Schoop would have made those plays. Bundy pitched well and didn’t deserve a loss.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 5, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      The defense wasn’t very good, TxBird, but the Orioles only had five hits. The offense reverted to its pre-All-Star Game mode.

  2. Ekim

    August 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Isn’t it kind of ridiculous to be worrying about a “closer” when we don’t have the need for one. A team that can only win three out of ten games doesn’t need a closer… it needs to address a whole lot more than that before it becomes something of a concern… like timely hitting that might put us in position to possibly consider the need for a designated “closer”. They might start with a new hitting coach that can get through to the players that doing the same thing over and over just doesn’t work. With the present makeup of O’s I’m not sure even that would work but it might give them a kick in the butt.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 5, 2018 at 3:18 pm

      It’s not ridiculous at all, Ekim. There will be games to close, now and in the future, and it takes a different mentality to be a closer. Everything needs to be addressed, but don’t ignore an important component of the game.

  3. boss61

    August 5, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Closer is the least of the challenges. Just playing some sound, fundamental baseball is something that must come first.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 5, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      Boss, Buck Showalter often points out how unschooled in fundamentals young players often are and that much more teaching goes on in the big leagues now than it used to. Just because they haven’t had many closing opportunities doesn’t mean the search for a closer should be ignored. It’s a very important part of the pitching staff.

  4. Jack Gibbons

    August 5, 2018 at 10:44 am

    TxBirdFan, Ekim and boss61, You’re right about a defense that is below major league standards and making the job even more difficult for the pitchers. Because Manny Machado sparkled at third, I didn’t realize how much better at short he was than Tim Beckham. And with his best friend Jonathan Schoop playing alongside him at second, it made it fun at times to watch the Orioles’ infield defense. That’s an area that has become weak, and it doesn’t appear as though that will change any time soon. The outfield defense could get a boost with the promotion of Cedric Mullins and possibly some others next month. As Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey point out game after game, defense was a staple of the Orioles’ winning teams — it’s as fundamental as that.

    • TxBirdFan

      August 5, 2018 at 4:03 pm

      I agree Jack! The O’s defense needs to improve to past levels of excellence. It’s been a hallmark for this franchise.

  5. boss61

    August 5, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Before I forget my manners, Rich, kudos once again for keeping alive what an started with astute, insightful blogging and commenting. Many thanks.

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