On a day when the Orioles’ best throw was made by their shortstop and not a pitcher, their bullpen lost another veteran. Their two most experienced relievers, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro, have been traded to the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets, leaving manager Brandon Hyde with an inexperienced relief corps.
Not only are Castro and Givens, who had a combined 10 seasons with the team, gone but Shawn Armstrong, another dependable arm, is on the 10-day injured list through until at least Saturday with lower back soreness.
“These guys are going to have to step up,” Hyde said in a postgame video conference call. “It’s the nature of the business right now. It’s deadline day.”
It also was a day when the Orioles ended their five-game losing streak with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in 11 innings. The drama came down to the last out and a brilliant play by shortstop Jose Iglesias, who raced to field a throw from rightfielder Anthony Santander near the first base line and made a perfect throw to the plate as his momentum carried him into foul territory. Catcher Chance Sisco took the throw and tagged out Lourdes Gurriel to preserve the win.
Thirty-five-year-old César Valdez pitched the final two innings, in part because of the departures of Givens and Castro.
Givens was traded on Sunday and Castro was traded on Monday afternoon, shortly before the 4 p.m. deadline and went to the New York Mets for left-handed pitcher Kevin Smith and a player to be named later or cash.
“Miggy’s a huge loss for us,” Hyde said. “I’m a big Miguel Castro fan as a person as well. I love the guy. He’s been improving ever since I saw him pitch. He put together a nice year this year.”
Hyde has relied on 30-year-old rookie right-hander Cole Sulser to close, but he’s suffered three losses in his past four outings, including game-ending defeats against the Blue Jays on Friday and Sunday.
Sulser is 1-4 with a 4.70 ERA, and Hyde has moved him out of the closer’s role.
“Sulser is just disappointed in the command,” Hyde said before Monday’s game.
“He’s always been known as a command guy, hasn’t had a ton of major league experience, low walk totals in the minor leagues. That’s what he’s disappointed about most.
“I talked to him today about maybe giving him a couple of breather outings, little bit lower intensity where we try to get his confidence back. I still believe in the stuff. I still believe in the maturity and the makeup of the guy. The guy’s been able to get left-handers out. I think it’s good to give him a little bit of a reset.”
Hyde believes Sulser’s confidence has taken a beating. He has blown three save opportunities in eight chances.
“He thinks he’s trying too hard,” Hyde said. “He’s always been a command guy throughout his minor league career. That’s what I liked about him initially.”
Hyde can use Tanner Scott to close and perhaps he’ll let Hunter Harvey, who pitched for the first time this season on Sunday, get a chance.
Dillon Tate, who pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings, and Valdez could get key roles, too.
“We’re making it so hard on our bullpen guys because we’re playing such tight games, it seems night after night,” Hyde said. “You’re not going to perfect when you play like that. You’ve got to be able to win 7-2 once in a while.”
With Castro’s departure, the Orioles have an open roster spot and will add another bullpen arm for Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets.
Orioles win on a walkoff defensive play: Iglesias and Bryan Holaday had run-scoring doubles in the 11th in the Orioles’ 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo on Monday.
The win gives the Orioles a 15-19 record.
After the Orioles took a 4-2 lead, Gurriel’s RBI single cut the lead to 4-3. The game ended when Gurriel tried to score from first on Rowdy Tellez’s double.
Santander fielded Tellez’s hit on one bounce near the foul line, turned and fired toward the infield. Iglesias, moving over from shortstop, saw that Holaday, playing first, and Rio Ruiz, at second, were not in position to make the play. He fielded Santander’s throw on the run and threw out Gurriel to end the game.
“It was a great heads-up play,” Iglesias said. “I was able to read the throw and it was in no-man’s land, and I wanted to get it and get an out for the team.”
Hyde raved about the play.
“Incredible, instinctive, veteran-type of play,” Hyde said. “He recognized that we weren’t quite in the right spot and just sprinted over there and made a heck of a catch, whirled and threw to the plate … a great play by a really great defensive player.”
Iglesias scored the Orioles’ first run in the first, had two hits, and is batting .405.
Keegan Akin started for the first time and allowed two unearned runs on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
“Keegan was fantastic,” Hyde said. “He was excellent. I loved all the early strikes. I loved how aggressive he was with the fastball.
“A lot of these guys were guys he faced in the minor leagues, and he had a really good feel for how to attack them, and he did. He should have left with no runs allowed against a really good offensive club.”
Hanser Alberto’s throwing error in the fifth allowed the two runs to score.
Akin is hoping he can slide into the starting rotation, replacing Tommy Milone, who was traded to Atlanta on Sunday.
“It’s no secret that I’ve had some troubles with walks,” Akin said. “My biggest thing — prove that I can throw strikes and limit the walks.”
Castro says goodbye: Castro pitched 183 games for the Orioles and didn’t expect the trade.
“I feel surprised by the move made by the Orioles,” Castro said through a translator. “I certainly was not expecting it. At the same time, there are only a few things that I can control. Right now, I’m heading to where I’ll be wearing a new jersey and a different jersey.”
Castro could face the Orioles in the two-game series against the Mets that begins on Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be exciting to be facing my teammates,” Castro said. “But at the same time, it’s going to be difficult. I’ve spent so much time with them, bonded with them. It’s definitely something strange and weird, but looking forward to it and, hopefully, I’ll do a good job.”
Richard Bleier, who was traded last month to the Miami Marlins, faced the Orioles in his first appearance for the Marlins.
“He knows that I’m a big fan of us,” Hyde said. “Every day, a smile on his face, just a really great person.”