BALTIMORE—Richard Bleier was sitting in the Orioles’ bullpen, hoping to get in a game that required five relievers to work five innings. He didn’t, and after the Orioles’ 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, found out that he was traded to the Miami Marlins for a player to be named later.
Bleier, a native of Miami Beach, lives in South Florida and gets to go home to play for a team decimated by Covid-19.
The Marlins, who haven’t played since Sunday, are scrambling to add players and are happy to grab the 33-year-old left-hander.
“Definitely surprised,” Bleier said in a video conference call when he found out about the trade early Saturday morning. “During the game, I was mapping out a situation where I might get into that one, and then I didn’t get in, and I was wondering what happened.”
Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias pulled Bleier aside after the game and told him.
“You want to know why you didn’t pitch?” Elias said. “We traded you.”
Bleier pitched three scoreless innings this season, allowing one hit, striking out four and walking none. He was 8-1 with a 2.99 ERA with four saves in four seasons with the Orioles.
“Extremely thankful for Baltimore, the organization and everything they’ve done for the last few years,” Bleier said. “They gave me an extended opportunity in the big leagues.”
Before he came to the Orioles in February 2017, Bleier had been with four organizations, finally making the majors in May 2016 with the New York Yankees. Despite a 1.96 ERA in 23 games, New York had no room for him and traded him to the Orioles.
In June 2018, Bleier, who was having an excellent year with a 3-0 record and 1.93 ERA, suffered a lat injury that required season-ending surgery.
Although 2019 wasn’t a great year for him, and he struggled with a 5.37 ERA, he looked much stronger this season.
“Then, [the Orioles] gave me another opportunity coming off a down year, get back to the status I had before,” Bleier said. “It’s been a really enjoyable ride in Baltimore, and I’m really thankful for that.”
Just a week into the Orioles’ 2020 season, it’s a surprising move. Bleier does get to play at home, but it’s not a move he campaigned for.
“LeBron James asked for trades, not me,” Bleier said.
By the time Bleier talked to the media, he’d probably known about the trade for perhaps 30 minutes and was still taken aback.
“I haven’t really processed it that much,” Bleier said. “I’m glad that I have value to another team, but it’s such a comfort being in Baltimore that I’m going to miss it.
“Before I came to Baltimore, I was bouncing around from organization to organization. Being the new guy isn’t nearly as much fun as the guy who’s been around for a long time. It’s definitely something I’ll miss, and I’m excited to continue my career in the big leagues, and I’m looking forward to pitching with the Marlins. But on the other hand, I will miss Baltimore.”
Bleier doesn’t have any trepidation about pitching for Miami , even though 21 members of the organization have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week.
“No, not right now,” he said. “Hopefully, everything’s under control. I’m going into a situation that’s unsafe. It’s definitely something I’m aware of, but I’m not overly concerned. They’re not going to bring me somewhere there’s going to be a problem.”
The Orioles could play Miami next week. Four games between the teams weren’t played this week because of the outbreak.
Bullpen strong in win: The Orioles think they have a stronger bullpen this season, and it played a key part in in their win Friday night.
The game began after a 58-minute rain delay, the second straight game with a lengthy delay.
With starter Alex Cobb going just four innings, five Oriole relievers combined to limit Tampa Bay to a run and two hits in four innings.
“I’m happy with how they’re throwing,” manager Brandon Hyde said about the bullpen. “I think we’re still learning our guys … We just don’t have a ton of experience. These guys haven’t pitched in the major leagues very much.”
After spotting the Rays a 2-0 lead, Renato Nuñez doubled against Blake Snell to start the fourth. Anthony Santander homered to center , his second of the season, to tie the score at 2. Pedro Severino, whose home run against the Yankees gave the Orioles a temporary lead in the eighth on Thursday, homered after Santander to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.
Paul Fry entered to start the fifth and gave up a home run to Brandon Lowe to tie the game. He then recorded five outs. He got the win because Santander’s RBI single in the fifth gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead, and it held up.
Shawn Armstrong gave up a one-out double to Ji-Man Choi in the seventh. After Tanner Scott hit Lowe with a pitch, he struck out Willy Adames and Yoshi Tsutsugo to end the inning.
Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless eighth.
The Orioles took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh when, with the bases loaded, Choi’s throw on Rio Ruiz’s tapper was high, allowing Nunez to score.
Hanser Alberto’s second home run of the season with two outs in the eighth put the Orioles ahead 6-3. Alberto had a single and double in addition to the homer.
Cole Sulser, who entered Thursday night’s game against the Yankees with a one-run lead in the ninth, but allowed a three-run homer to Aaron Judge, bounced back by pitching a spotless ninth for his second save.
“Gutsy performance,” Hyde said. “[Thursday] night was a tough loss. We talked about it a little today her in my office, but I told him if he had the opportunity again, I would throw him out there and try to bounce back from that.”
The Orioles are 3-3.
Cobb’s night: In his third season with the Orioles, Cobb still hasn’t won a game at home. Had he been a bit more economical with his pitches, he could have.
Cobb threw 87 pitches in four innings, including a 10-pitch walk to Adames in the third, allowing two runs on four hits, walking three and striking out two.
“It’s definitely not the outing I’m looking for,” Cobb said. “I’m happy with the way I battled, but four innings, 87 pitches, doesn’t really help our team that night.”
He left after the Orioles scored three runs in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead.
All four hits Cobb gave up were doubles, back-to-back doubles in the first to Adames and Tsutsugo, which put the Rays up 1-0, one to Manuel Margot in the third, and another to Hunter Renfroe in the third that scored Adames.
Davis is back: After missing two games because of a sinus infection, Chris Davis didn’t start against left-hander Blake Snell. Davis pinch-hit for Pat Valaika in the fourth when Pete Fairbanks replaced Snell.
He struck out twice and walked while wearing a mask at bat. Davis didn’t wear a mask while playing first base in the fifth, but wore both black and orange masks in the final four innings.