DENVER—Orioles manager Brandon Hyde knew he had to rest reliever Mychal Givens. What wasn’t certain was who Hyde would use in relief of Andrew Cashner.
Hyde did some major improvising, and the Orioles broke their seven-game losing streak with a 9-6 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Cashner left with 7-5 lead after throwing five innings. Miguel Castro worked the sixth, allowing a home run to Chris Iannetta.
The Orioles scored two runs in the seventh for a 9-6 lead. That’s when Josh Lucas made that improvisational plan work.
He pitched a scoreless seventh and a scoreless eighth. Although Richard Bleier was warming in the bullpen, Hyde sent Lucas back out for the ninth.
He closed out the Orioles’ victory, allowing just a hit and a walk in those three innings for his first career save.
“I mean, it’s hard to pitch here, but you can’t make excuses for the environment,” Lucas said. “You’ve got to just go out and throw and whatever happens, happens.”
Hyde had limited options.
“Castro and Lucas were the guys tonight,” Hyde said. “We needed Castro and Lucas to give us some innings. Castro was going to go back out, too, but we had a rally going, [Dwight] Smith with a big RBI hit to extend the lead, so somehow we pieced it together.”
Not only did Hyde want to keep away from Givens, his nominal closer, but he also wanted to rest left-hander Paul Fry.
Renato Nunez continued his hot hitting, with three hits and his 12th home run. Nunez has homered in four straight games and is the first Oriole to do that since Jonathan Schoop did it last July 22-26.
“It’s got to be the work I’m putting in in the cage, getting ready for the games, getting in the video room to watch pitchers and see how they’re going to work to me, and stick with the plan,” Nunez said.
Jonathan Villar had three hits, including his seventh home run, a three-run blast that gave the Orioles a 7-4 lead.
Pedro Severino also had four hits as the Orioles produced 17 hits, a season high.
“Our guys turn the page really well and they’ve been in almost every single game we’ve been playing, and we’ve just fallen short,” Hyde said. “You feel for a lot of the guys that are putting so much into it and tonight it feels good to hold on to a lead, give some guys a breather in the ‘pen and have a couple of guys step up big time. A really nice offensive performance, and we did a nice job on the mound.”
Cashner’s night: Cashner allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings and was lifted after 91 pitches.
“I was trying to go more,” Cashner said. “I was just gassed. I mean, running the bases, altitude, everything. For the bullpen to pick up four innings and give up one run is huge for us, especially with the kind of skid we’ve been on. Maybe give us some momentum going forward.”
Hyde wanted Cashner to go longer but realized he had reached his limit.
“Fatigue, battling, didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” Hyde said “I thought without his best stuff, pitched great in a tough place to pitch against a good lineup and gave us everything he had for five innings. This is a tough place to keep your stamina as you get deeper into the game. He got tired after the fifth.”
Cashner was 0-for-3, and hit for himself in the sixth inning only to have Castro enter the game in the bottom of the sixth.
“I wanted him to go back out for the sixth, knowing our bullpen situation,” Hyde said. “He would have done it, but I could tell it was the right thing to do to get him out of the game.”
Cashner is now 5-2, and he was happy for the run support. It’s the second time this season the Orioles have scored nine runs in a game he’s started.
“Man, here in Colorado there’s never enough runs,” Cashner said. “I don’t care if you have 15 runs on the board. I’ve seen them score nine runs here with two outs before, so there’s never enough runs in this ballpark.”
Farewell to Fraley: Gerry Fraley, a longtime baseball writer for the Dallas Morning News, died Saturday morning at 64. Fraley, who expertly covered baseball and other sports, had suffered from cancer for the last two years.
Fraley was a particular favorite of former manager Buck Showalter from the days when Showalter managed the Texas Rangers.