BALTIMORE—Looking for an effective reliever in a tie game, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde chose Branden Kline for the ninth inning.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Kline gave up a walk and a two-run home to Detroit’s Brandon Dixon, breaking the tie and giving the Tigers a 4-2 win on Wednesday night.
Beginning on May 24, the Orioles had a string of nine consecutive games against teams that were under .500. They hoped to win a chunk of them.
Six games into that stretch, the Orioles have lost four. In three of the four losses, the Orioles gave up the decisive runs in the ninth.
Kline walked leadoff hitter Nicholas Castellanos. With one out, Dixon homered.
Hyde is trying to find an effective closer after the recent struggle of Mychal Givens, who was brought in the seventh after starter John Means gave the Orioles six strong innings and left with a 2-1 lead. Givens was sharp in a 1-2-3 seventh but gave up a home run to start the eighth. Richard Bleier finished the eighth before turning the game over to Kline.
“I’m just trying who’s available,” Hyde said. “We’re just having a tough time getting through the last couple of innings. Looking for guys to step up and pitch in big spots. BK threw great in Colorado, wanted to give him the opportunity tonight. Just didn’t happen. You just can’t walk the leadoff guy.”
The Orioles are 17-39 and have lost 17 of 21. They’ll end May without having won a series. Their last series win came against Chicago on April 22-24, and they haven’t won consecutive games since May 4-6. They’re 7-21 at home.
“We’ll try to figure it out,” catcher Austin Wynns said. “Solid defense, pitch well and timely hitting. Bottom line. We’ve got to do that.”
Means’ strong night: For the second consecutive game, an Orioles starter delivered a quality start and didn’t get a win.
Means gave up just a run on three hits in six innings, striking out seven. He retired the first nine Tigers and his only run came when Nicholas Castellanos doubled in the fourth.
“I definitely felt a lot better than the last couple [of starts],” Means said. “I’m starting to figure some stuff out. Obviously, not everything is going to roll throughout the whole season. It’s nice to get some results after tweaking some things.”
Dylan Bundy allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings in Tuesday’s 3-0 loss. Neither Means nor Bundy allowed a walk.
“He and I go way back and we know each other very well,” Wynns said about Means. “His heater, his changeup, his slider, his curveball, they were all working and he did very well for us tonight.”
Givens’ night: Hyde said that he wanted to put Givens in “lower-leverage” situations and called him into the game in relief of Means in the seventh.
After an impressive 14-pitch seventh, he allowed a home run to Detroit’s John Hicks to lead off the eighth.
“Mike threw really well in the seventh, a couple of strikeouts,” Hyde said. “Fourteen pitches, he was dominating. Left a pitch in the middle of the plate to Hicks.
“…For the first two months of the season, I wanted to give the ball to Mike somehow. Now, I wanted him to take a step back and give someone else an opportunity, try to get him back to being Mychal Givens again. Just didn’t work out tonight.”
Hyde says he’ll continue using Givens, but isn’t committing to sending him out in the ninth yet.
“I’m going to keep throwing him out there,” Hyde said. “That seventh was dominating, and that’s the stuff we’re looking for on a nightly basis when he’s out there. It’s not going to be perfect. He just made a bad pitch to Hicks.”
It was his earliest appearance since July 27, 2018.
Giants next: The San Francisco Giants play three games in Baltimore this weekend. It’s the first visit for the Giants to Oriole Park since June 2004. Barry Bonds hit two home runs in three games.
On Sunday, the Orioles are scheduled to start Gabriel Ynoa, who began Monday’s game and, after four innings, yielded to Dan Straily, who worked four innings for the win.
Hyde said that while he’d again like to piggyback Ynoa and Straily, it might not be possible because he could need Straily in the bullpen before then.
San Francisco features outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, a longtime Orioles farmhand who was traded to the Giants in March. He made his major league debut last weekend.