ARLINGTON, Texas—By the time the sixth inning ended, the Orioles were left with no reserve position players. They didn’t know it at the time, but the game was only halfway over, with the Orioles eventually losing to the Texas Rangers, 2-1, in 12 innings that were painful in many ways.
The Orioles’ game of attrition started in the bottom of the first. Catcher Pedro Severino, who hit three home runs the night before, took a foul tip flush on his mask. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora noticed that Severino didn’t seem right.
“We saw him get hit with the ball on the mask,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “It was a few pitches prior. Brian didn’t feel like things were right, so he called me over and that’s when me and [head athletic trainer Brian] Ebel went out there. Just thought we’re going to be as cautious as possible when it comes to the head, so took him out.
“… We got so lucky with the tests that came back. Saw a doctor during the game. All the tests came back. He passed everything. Should be OK.”
The Orioles said Severino had a head bruise but no concussion-like symptoms.
He was replaced by Chance Sisco, who was recalled by Norfolk on Tuesday and is the 42nd player used by the Orioles this season. Sisco was expected to play Thursday but made his 2019 debut sooner than expected.
After the fifth inning, second baseman Jonathan Villar left the game with a sore right thumb. Villar’s injury is considered minor.
Hanser Alberto moved from third to second. An inning later, Alberto clipped rightfielder DJ Stewart when Stewart, Alberto and first baseman Trey Mancini converged on a foul ball by Elvis Andrus. Stewart initially made the catch near a wall, but the ball came loose when he hit the ground hard after being tripped by Alberto. Mancini immediately signaled for the training staff.
Stewart wanted to stay in the game but left with a sprained right ankle. Chris Davis, manager Brandon Hyde’s last player on the bench, entered the game, carrying Mancini’s outfield glove as Mancini moved to right and Davis took over at first.
“Hanser and I are both going after that ball, both really aggressive players,” Stewart said. “Kind of got there at the same time and I wasn’t sure if I was able to call it. I called it kind of late. He went low, I went high and caught the ball and when I planted he kind of slid into me and rolled my ankle a little bit. A little sore right now, but we’ll re-evaluate tomorrow and see how I feel.
“I’m glad it wasn’t my knee. Nothing’s broken but sore right now, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and hopefully get back sooner rather than later.”
Stewart knew that if he left the game, the Orioles would be down to their final position player.
“I was begging to stay in, but they made a decision that that was the best thing right now,” Stewart said. “I knew we only had one guy on the bench. Just kind of a long-term thing. I never want to come out of a game. It doesn’t matter. I pride myself on being tough. But I think we made the smart decision.”
The Orioles didn’t score until the ninth, when Richie Martin hit a home to tie the score, 1-1. They wasted another strong start by John Means.
The Orioles lost in the 12th on an RBI single by Delino DeShields, his fourth hit of the game. Afterward, Hyde said that he felt fortunate that none of the players need to be placed on the 10-day injured list, although none is expected to start on Thursday.
“We’re just going to have to play a little short,” Hyde said. “And that’s part of it, that’s part of a long season, a six-month season. Sometimes, these things happen and you run into periods of time when you’re a man or two down and we might be like that for a couple of days.”
Offensive futility: After squandering a number of opportunities by going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the first six innings, the Orioles’ offense suddenly shut down.
Two outs away from their fifth shutout of the year, Martin hit his second home run of the year to left field to tie the game at 1.
The Orioles had runners on base in the first 15 innings of the two games with Texas before being retired in order in the seventh and eighth.
“We’ve played a ton of close games, and I think our guys are used to playing one-run games a lot,” Hyde said. “I was so happy for Richie to come through off a closer like that and get a slider, I think it was a slider, hit it out of the ballpark to tie the game. Last night we drove the ball all night long and tonight we just had a tough time.”
Means’ night: The injuries and offensive futility obscured another fine performance by Means, who allowed a run to Texas in the first on an RBI double by Andrus.
Means pitched six innings, allowing a run on four hits. He retired 11 of his final 12 batters.
“I think it got better as it went on,” Means said. “I think early on, I was battling. I didn’t really have my best stuff, and as the game went on, I found my changeup, found my better fastball, and it worked well from there.”
Means said that he tried not to think about the injuries to his teammates, although Severino’s and Stewart’s brought long delays.
“You just try not to think about it,” Means said. “You just kind of worry about the safety of those guys … Like DJ, that looked like a pretty bad fall, so I’m glad he was going to be all right.”
There was good news for Means on Wednesday. His brother, Jake, a third baseman from Indiana State, was taken in the 22nd round by the Kansas City Royals on the final day of the draft.
“I’m so excited for him,” Means said. “He’s a fifth-year senior in college, so the fact that he gets a chance to play and experience what I’ve experienced is going to be a lot of fun.”
Bullpen better: Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless seventh and Miguel Castro a scoreless eighth.
For the first time in 2019, Richard Bleier pitched two scoreless innings.
Paul Fry pitched a scoreless 11th before allowing an RBI single to DeShields in the 12th.
Before the game, pitching coach Doug Brocail gathered his bullpen in the outfield after another poor outing on Tuesday night. He appeared to be the only one talking on a segment shown by MASN.
“I was really happy,” Hyde said. “I thought everybody threw the ball really well and I just like the way we pounded the strike zone … we didn’t have many walks.
“We got a lot of off-the-barrel ground balls, a ton of ground balls to infielders that weren’t hard hit, so everybody that came out of the ‘pen did a fantastic job. The last inning with Paul, two ground balls that get through, a two-strike hit by pitch, and there was just bad luck on his part.”
Davis slumping: Davis, who did not start on Wednesday night, warmed up Means a couple of times while Sisco was putting his gear back on. After Davis entered the game, he struck out in both his at-bats. Davis was hitless in five at-bats on Tuesday after being on the 10-day IL; he had struck out in his four previous at-bats before that.
Since reaching .193 on May 10, his highest point since the end of the 2017 season, Davis is 5-for-48 and 0-for-16. His average is just .162. He has 61 strikeouts in 136 at-bats.
“I thought his bats were more competitive before he went on the IL,” Hyde said before the game. “That’s what I was looking for, just compete in those at-bats.
“Before he went on the IL, he was late on the heater and chasing the breaking ball in the dirt.”