KANSAS CITY, Mo.—After the Orioles traded Zach Britton and Brad Brach, it was assumed that Mychal Givens would become the team’s closer. However, in just over a month, there haven’t been many games to close.
On Saturday, Givens entered the ninth with a 4-3 lead. After walking leadoff hitter Brett Phillips, he gave up a one-out home run to Whit Merrifield as the Orioles lost their second straight to the Kansas City Royals, 5-4.
Givens has had just six save opportunities, and he couldn’t convert for the second time.
What made it more painful was that the Orioles looked as though they would engineer a rare comeback win. They were 0-82 when trailing after seven innings. After scoring twice in the eighth on Trey Mancini’s team-leading 21st home run and an RBI double by Tim Beckham, they had a 4-3 lead.
“This is a tough year for us, but it doesn’t matter,” Givens said of his irregular save opportunities.
“In that situation, the job should be done, and I should have closed out the game. I failed the team as far as not being able to do my job today.”
Givens’ save chance was just his third since Aug. 14.
For a brief time, it looked as if the Orioles would have their fourth win in five games instead of losing their second straight to the Royals. Their record is now 40-96.
“We’ve been playing really good, battling circumstances with what’s been going on this year,” Givens said. “They worked their butts off getting back in the game. Just have to do a better job.”
Manager Buck Showalter doesn’t have many options in the bullpen. With Brach, Britton and the injured Darren O’Day traded and Richard Bleier sidelined since June, Givens is the most experienced hand in the bullpen.
“Mike’s biggest issue is his command,” Showalter said. “It’s not just closing, there’s pressure in different situations. There’s a certain finality to that inning. It’s a great job if you’re good at it. We’re going to continue to look for potential people down the road, and Mike’s one of them.”
In his first three seasons, Givens was 18-2. This year, he’s 0-7.
Beckham had his best offensive game of the season, going 4-for-4, including his 10th home run, but he couldn’t celebrate.
“That was a tough one,” Beckham said. “You know we want to win the game every night. I mean we laid it all on the line. It’s just a tough pill to swallow tonight.”
Besides the home run, Beckham had a double and two singles.
“You know I’m an aggressive hitter, and I wanted to stay aggressive,” Beckham said. “Felt like I took a couple of pitches I could hit the night before, and I just wanted to go out there and stay aggressive and see a pitch I could handle.”
Bundy gives up long ball
For five straight starts, Dylan Bundy has found it impossible to complete six innings. Bundy had made it through five with a 2-1 lead.
In the first four innings, Bundy had allowed a run on six hits. In the fifth, he was dealing, retiring Kansas City in order.
His sixth inning was his end. After two had scored, he booted Brett Phillips grounder for an error, and was out of the game.
Bundy equaled an Orioles record by surrendering his 35th home run of the season, to Phillips in the fourth.
He’s tied with Robin Roberts (1963), Scott McGregor (1986), Sidney Ponson (1999) and Jeremy Guthrie (2009) for most in team history.
Bundy allowed just one home run in his first five starts, but in his last 10 has given up at least one. In those 10 starts, Bundy has an 8.46 ERA.
“Dylan pitched better than he did last time, pitched better than the time before,” Showalter said. “I thought he had command of his secondary pitch, on a sticky night. He held runners really well, something that kept the game intact. Just that one inning got away from him, third time around the order where that third pitches into play.”
Limited additions for now
Breyvic Valera, an infielder obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade, was the only player added to the Orioles’ roster Saturday.
Showalter said that Valera might play Sunday.
Additional reinforcements are expected after Norfolk and Bowie conclude their seasons on Monday.