ANAHEIM, California—Asher Wojciechowski woke up on Friday morning not knowing the result of the Orioles’ grueling game with the Los Angeles Angels from the night before.
Wojciechowski, who was scheduled to start a night later, watched the game from the dugout but left the ballpark to get some sleep close to midnight with the game in the 12th inning.
When he returned to the Orioles’ hotel, Wojciechowski stayed with the game until the 15th, when both teams scored three runs apiece. He finally went to sleep and didn’t know how it ended until he woke up.
He was happy to see that Stevie Wilkerson recorded a save in the 10-8, 16-inning win but concerned that manager Brandon Hyde needed to use all eight relievers to get to the 16th. Wojciechowski knew what he had to do Friday night.
“That’s just a game … where I know I need to go deep,” he said. “I need to give the bullpen a rest. Every single game I’m trying to do that. I’m trying to do as quick as I can, get quick outs. I wouldn’t say it’s anything extra. You don’t want to put any pressure on yourself. You just want to do your job and execute pitches.”
Coming off the best start of his career, in which he pitched six hitless innings against the Boston Red Sox, and allowed just a single hit in 7 1/3 innings, Wojciechowski was sharp again.
He retired the first 11 Los Angeles Angels on his way to seven solid innings in the Orioles’ 9-3 win.
“I’m just executing pitches,” Wojciechowski said. “I’m in a good rhythm with my mechanics, and I’m making pitches.”
In his last two starts, Wojciechowski has allowed two runs on four hits in 14 1/3 innings. Just a month ago, he was pitching for Cleveland’s Triple-A Columbus Clippers,
“He’s been enormous for us,” Hyde said. “He’s going deep for us. That was a bullpen saver on a day when we really, really needed it with so many guys down. The way he pitched with a lead, too. Throwing strikes, attacking hitters. I love his competitiveness. I think you see, after strikeouts, I like his emotion on the mound. He’s out to beat people, and I love the way he competes.”
The Orioles quickly got to work against Los Angeles starter Nick Tropeano, who was called up to pitch because the Angels exhausted their bullpen, too, the night before.
The Orioles scored seven runs against Tropeano in the first two innings, but he stayed in the game for five.
The Orioles scored six in the second, equaling their biggest inning of the season. Renato Nunez’s 25th home run, a three-run shot, was the big hit.
Trey Mancini hit a two-run home run in the ninth. In each of his three complete major league seasons, Mancini has hit 24 home runs.
The Orioles equaled a major league record by hitting at least two home runs in each of their last nine games. They are 34-69 and have won six of nine and are 12-11 since June 28.
“I think you see some guys starting to put together some pretty nice years,” Hyde said. “Trey Mancini and Nunez and [Anthony] Santander and [Jonathan] Villar, and you’re talking about a Chance Sisco got here and he’s done a nice job offensively and defensively, [Pedro] Severino.
“So, you are seeing some position players having some nice years and some of the leverage guys I’ve been using have done a nice job, too, with the lead. Paul Fry and Shawn [Armstrong] and Mike [Givens] and [Richard] Bleier. Even though their numbers overall in the course of the season don’t really show it, I feel like the last month they’ve all been pitching better. We’ve done a better job pitching with the lead this last month.”
Last year, the Orioles didn’t win their 34th game until their 112th game, so they’re nine games ahead of last year’s pace.
Means to injured list: John Means is on the 10-day injured list for the second time this season with soreness in his left biceps. The move is retroactive to July 25.
“You can tell he didn’t have the same finish on his pitches the last couple innings in that start in Arizona [on July 24],” Hyde said. “We’re checking him out, and we thought the right thing was for him to miss one start and go on the IL. He should be back as soon as he comes off the IL in the next eight days.”
Means will be eligible to pitch on August 4. Hyde doesn’t know who’ll take Means’ place in the rotation.
Means was on the IL for 10 days last month with stiffness in his left shoulder.
“I’m relying on our medical people,” Hyde said. “They’re really not concerned about it at all. I don’t think there are any red flags there.
“It’s his rookie year in the big leagues. Even though he has a track record of starting, the intensity level is different here. I think he’s still getting used to the major league grind.
“The right thing to do is not to push him through anything. We obviously care a ton about John Means. He’s a big part of us going forward, and we want to do what’s right for him going forward and for him to finish the season strong.”
Making more moves: Means’ move was one of five the Orioles made on Friday. To fortify their bullpen, the Orioles optioned left-hander Tanner Scott to Triple-A Norfolk and recalled right-hander Evan Phillips from Norfolk and right-hander Dillon Tate from Double-A Bowie.
Phillips allowed a run in the ninth inning.
The Orioles also designated right-hander Nate Karns for assignment. Karns spent nearly all the season on the IL with a right forearm injury.
“We feel like the right thing to do with our organization was to move on,” Hyde said. “I’m going to miss him. Obviously, he didn’t pitch very much for us. He was a pleasure to have in the clubhouse, a veteran guy, an awesome guy to have in the dugout. He’s loud in the dugout and really supported the guys.”