Karns opens, Wright closes, and Orioles get Hyde's first win - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Karns opens, Wright closes, and Orioles get Hyde’s first win

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

NEW YORK—Brandon Hyde was intrigued by the idea of the opener. He was even more enthused about it once the Orioles picked up their first win of the season, and his first as a big league manager by using it.

It took six pitchers, and Mike Wright’s first major league save to scratch out Saturday’s 5-3 win over the New York Yankees, and once it was over Hyde was shoved into a laundry cart and doused with syrup and beer by his happy players.

Nate Karns, who hadn’t pitched in a major league game, threw two scoreless innings to start things off. Jimmy Yacabonis allowed a run in three innings, and was given credit for the win.

Miguel Castro added two more shutout innings, and Mychal Givens threw a scoreless eighth. After Richard Bleier allowed three hits while recorded only one out,  Wright finished it off.

“I had a bunch of different scenarios,” Hyde said. “Whether it was tight, we were down a bunch, we were up a bunch. All kinds of things. But we were navigating.”

Karns, who missed nearly two seasons because of injuries, was able to throw those first two innings, though he walked the bases loaded with one out.

“It was pretty big for me out there,” Karns said. “First thing was, ‘What did I get myself into?’ It’s not the way I kind of drew it up. It worked out, and I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish [after] those two years I was injured. It’s not done, yet, and I’ve got to keep going right now.”

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Offensively, the Orioles were led by Jesus Sucre, who had three hits and three RBIs. Sucre was with Tampa Bay last year when the Rays used the opener, and the catcher had lots of adjustments to make.

“Those guys are going to drive me crazy a little bit,” Sucre said. “Seeing a different pitcher every inning in there is not easy, but it’s something I’ve got to get used to. And they did a really, really nice job today.”

Wright has started, pitched in long and middle relief, and was challenged by his first opportunity to close a game when he entered with two on and one out. He struck out Giancarlo Stanton, allowed an RBI single to Luke Voit and fanned Miguel Andujar.

“That wasn’t necessarily what I thought was going to happen today,” Wright said. “When they call down and you’ve got to go in the game, it’s get outs.”

Hyde hasn’t designated anyone as the team’s closer. Givens closed for the final two months of 2018, but he struggled during the spring. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him close—or for Hyde to call on Wright again—or maybe others.

“I want to show our guys confidence,” Hyde said. “This is such a hard game and there’s so much adversity — and it’s challenging — and to be able to show guys confidence and put guys in tough spots and let them persevere, that’s what it’s about and that’s how guys get better. So I’m going to continue to put guys in tough spots and see how they react.”

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of the opener. Alex Cobb, who was scheduled to start Thursday’s Opening Day game but missed it because of a sore right groin, shared his misgivings.

“I’m conflicted on it,” Cobb said. “Honestly, I don’t like the idea of it. I think that we’re in a position to experiment with it, but I think it causes a lot of uncertainty with the rotation with guys not knowing when they’re going.

“Guys who have been starters their whole career being forced to pitch out of the bullpen, not have their normal routine, so there’s a lot more question marks surrounding it for me than really the positives. I still don’t understand the reasoning behind it other than turning the lineup around. Even answering this question I realize I’m not a fan of it, but we’ll see how it turns out.”

Hyde said that he wanted the opener to be used after an off-day when the entire bullpen had a day off. Cobb’s place in the rotation was taken by Andrew Cashner. Cobb is scheduled to start the April 4 home opener.

“I don’t think I had anything to do with the decision to go with it,” Cobb said.

“…You have to have a bullpen full of guys with options, and it’s not a fun roster to be on if you’re one of those guys, but I’m not going to criticize it too much. I think it’s something that front offices want to see how it’s going to turn out and what it looks like. But, honestly, I don’t even think it’s good for baseball. I don’t think anybody really wants to come and watch a guy throw two innings and another guy throw two innings. I just don’t think that’s very enjoyable to watch, especially with the pace of play that they want to do and all those sorts of things.”

Whether Cobb and others like it or not, it seems as if it’s going to be part of the Orioles’ strategy for now, and it could be used again as early as Wednesday in Toronto.

“Well, Wright’s not starting tomorrow or the next day, so…yeah, as of right now probably until we can kind of figure out a rotation situation. But..I think Karns will go. We’re going to start an opener one more time, probably before Cobb starts (Thursday).”

Davis sits: Chris Davis, who struck out in all three at-bats on Thursday, didn’t play against Yankees left-hander James Paxton. The Yankees are starting another left-hander, J.A. Happ, on Sunday.

“I see Chris being a part of our lineup,” Hyde said. “This is just a day I felt like would be a good day to take a breather. I’m trying to get him off to a good start. I want Chris to feel good. I want all of our guys to be involved and feel like they’re going to be a part…I don’t want our guys to sit too long, get them the best opportunities to have success. I think really good coaches do that. I don’t really know our club yet. We have so many guys with so little experience that we’re going to see what we have.”

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. CalsPals

    March 30, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Cobb, the team player, why doesn’t he like the idea of openers, his contract probably has incentives for # of starts, he just needs to stop whining, shut up & pitch, when he’s told…..

    • Jbigle1

      March 31, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      He does have a 500K bonus for every season he can pump out 180+ innings. That’s not a huge bonus for a guy who signed a 56 MM contract. Of course if openers become increasingly popular that will make middling starters less and less valuable which would hurt his shot of getting another deal.

  2. ButchBird59

    March 30, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Usual caveat: Yes, I know it was only one game and only the second game of the season and I am a realistic Baltimore Bird not a Cuckoo Bird.

    I liked some things today.
    I like the aggressive base running. How many double steals were attempted during the Showalter era? I hope it’s a sign of the future.
    I feel good about the middle defense with Sucre/Martin/Villar/Mullins. It will be interesting to see how patient Hyde is about how much offense he gets out of those three.
    Castro and Givens were sharp. Hunter and Bordick on the radio were opining that maybe Givens was just working on things in Florida knowing his roster spot was sewn up. I hope they’re right.

    Biggest IMMEDIATE concern: Nunez and Rickard at 4 and 5 in the lineup are not exactly going to make me forget the Robinsons. Let’s hope some of those young bats in the minors get here in a hurry.

  3. cedar

    March 30, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    I was interested to see how the opener strategy played itself out. He back half was a little shaky but overall it’s was a win and I think important for this team to get the first one under its belt.

    Loved the aggressive base stealing!

  4. Hallbe62

    March 30, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    WIN !

  5. Camden Brooks

    March 30, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    Haaaaannnggg on Sucre, Sucre hang on!!

  6. BirdsCaps

    March 30, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    I didnt get a chance to watch, but I did listen. This was a fun little game. Hopefully we’ll see more like this.

  7. SailinO

    March 31, 2019 at 8:04 am

    I think the Opener concept is here to stay. In the ideal world every team would have 5 pitchers capable of dominating a team for 9 innings. Most teams are lucky to have 1 or 2 do that. Great pitchers are just too scarce a commodity. For me the story on this game was the performance of Sucre. 3 for 4 at the plate was nice, (but don’t expect it every day). His heads up aggressive base running set the competitive tone of the game. But the real gem he provided, and often goes overlooked, was his command of the pitching staff and absolute refusal to let any pitch get by him in that tight ninth inning. That was catching at its best, the definition of a “backstop”.

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 31, 2019 at 8:29 am

    I always knew that Wright had it in him.

    • Ekim

      March 31, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Until the next time out… just sayin…

  9. Birdman

    March 31, 2019 at 9:04 am

    How Bout Them O’s? … pleased to see the strong defense from Ruiz, Sucre, Martin, and the rest … also good to see Mancini at first, where he belongs.

  10. Tony Paparella

    March 31, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Just a fine feeling for everyone who truly loves the Baltimore Orioles.Getting that first win out of the way and against the Yankees to boot.I like Karns,he settled down after the walks and I believe ha will be a good starter.Yacabonnis was really good also and Castro and Givens pitched like everyone hopes they can.That Yankee lineup offensively (on paper anyway) has to be arguably one of the best ever in baseball.Anyway the Orioles needed a win for their mindset and for the fans mindset to.The “UnderBirds” (dogs,lol) surprised them all,lets hope it continues.

    • Orial

      March 31, 2019 at 12:37 pm

      The only reason for the “opener” is Cobb going down. It will burn out a bullpen that can ill afford to be burnt out. Elias best off season find(so far)—Ruiz. What a glove and arm at third. Watching Sucre lead from behind the plate should tell us all why Sisco is not here.

      • Jbigle1

        March 31, 2019 at 8:04 pm

        I think you’ll see it again. We don’t have the personnel to make it through a season. We’re cobbling together the back end of the rotation however we can.

    • CalsPals

      March 31, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Didn’t Sucre drop a pop up, infield fly (not called) & turn it into a crazy double play on opening day, sometimes lucky is better than good…

  11. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 31, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Great video. Smith impressed me during spring training. He looks good in the field plus he is hitting.

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