What they're saying about Kimbrel, Cano and Orioles' 4-2 win over Diamondbacks - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What they’re saying about Kimbrel, Cano and Orioles’ 4-2 win over Diamondbacks

Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer USA TODAY Sports

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BALTIMORE—What happened? Instead of using Craig Kimbrel as his closer, manager Brandon Hyde used Kimbrel, who had failed to convert four of his past five save chances, in the seventh inning of the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.

Kimbrel, who before the game said he expected to continue as the team’s closer, retired the three batters he faced in the seventh. There were some boos when he entered the game, but he left to an ovation.

Yennier Cano allowed a double but worked a scoreless ninth for his second save.

Oriole starter Cole Irvin allowed two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings — the second was an inherited runner that scored after reliever Albert Suárez gave up a hit.

Jordan Westburg had an RBI double in the second, Ryan O’Hearn a run-scoring single in the fifth and Gunnar Henderson a run-scoring double in the seventh. It scored Jorge Mateo from first as Mateo demonstrated his exceptional speed. Another run scored on a Cedric Mullins grounder in the second.

Why did Hyde change his mind about Kimbrel? “It’s just trying to give him a little different situation, trying to match up the best way we possibly can,” Hyde said. “I just wanted to give him a little bit of a different look. I thought he threw the ball really, really well, so really happy with [him] pitching a big inning for us in the seventh.”

Hyde said he didn’t plan on Kimbrel pitching in the game, no matter what the score.

“Pitching a 3-2 game in the seventh is still a lot of pressure, and a high-leverage situation,” he said. “I just want to get him going, honestly. I just want him to get confident, and I know he’s had kind of a rough week. Just want to change his look a little bit. This guy’s done a lot of cool things for a long time.”

Hyde said Kimbrel’s future use would be day-to-day.

Irvin and Cano said they believe Kimbrel will resume his role soon.

“There’s been no confidence lost,” Irvin said. “He’s on the all-times saves list for a reason. He can get the job done on any night … We have a lot of confidence in this room with Craig. He’s one of the best in the game, and  there’s no doubt about that.”

Cano was in the unusual position of following Kimbrel into the game as he did last Saturday in Cincinnati when he recorded his first save of the season.

“I went through those same moments last year, and even this year,” he said though an interpreter. “It’s bound to happen, but it was good to see him go out there in the seventh inning and regain his confidence, and we’re excited to hopefully have him back doing what he does best.”

Why did Cano think of closing? Cano had eight saves last season, so he’s not new to closing.

“I had no idea. They just told us all to go out there and be ready,” Cano said. “I went out there and did what I’ve done all season long, which is to be prepared and to do my one inning of work and get the job done.”

The ninth is different for Cano.

“It’s an extremely difficult inning,” he said. “There always seems to be something that just goes sideways. I’ve tried to learn from last year and approach it as any other inning, same thing if it was the seventh or the eighth. It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to go out there and do my job.”

“I didn’t really have a plan after that except for a few guys I wanted to use there,” Hyde said. “Just how the inning went in the eighth … I’m just trying to set all these guys up for success the best I possibly can. We did a good job in September last year after we lost [Félix] Bautista, trying to get Craig going.”

What kind of a night did Irvin have? Even though Irvin’s scoreless inning streak ended at 22 2/3, he still pitched well.

“Today wasn’t my best execution day,” Irvin said. “A really good team game. Offense got on the board early. Pitching staff, we all did our job to keep it close and do our job.”

Irvin said he wasn’t thinking about the scoreless streak, which dated back to April 15th.

“You’ve got people mentioning it, right?” Irvin said. “With my process over the past few weeks and changed, every game is independent of itself. I’m trying to do my best to, of course, throw up zeroes and do what I can. The streak was by no means even at the forefront of my mind.

“I was focused on getting back to executing pitches and I felt like early in that outing, I wasn’t throwing it where I wanted to and I was sporadic throughout that game. It wasn’t my most polished game, but I’m happy with where some pitches were at towards the later part of the outing.”

“I thought Cole threw the ball great once again,” Hyde said. “A team that really hits left-handers well. This is the best left-handed hitting team in the big leagues right now. Keeping them to just one run in the sixth inning there with a lead, he really threw the ball great. Really impressed with how competitive he’s been, the confidence in his stuff. He’s got his pitches working, and he’s pitching with a ton of confidence.”

What’s the latest on Austin Hays? Hays had a scheduled day off in his rehab assignment from his strained left calf muscle. In his first three games for Double-A Bowie, Hays is 5-for-10 with two home runs and three RBIs.

“He’s going to play [Saturday] for Bowie again. We’re going to make some decisions after that,” Hyde said. “We’re evaluating him after every day.”

The Diamondbacks had three right-handers scheduled, but Hyde said that didn’t have a bearing on Hays’ activation.

“He’s swinging the bat really well,” Hyde said. “I talked to a couple of people who’ve been at the games, and he’s running really, really well, so that’s the main thing.”

Is a six-man rotation still a possibility? When Grayson Rodriguez returns from the injured list, Hyde could tinker with a six-man rotation.

“I think it’s a possibility once we get into certain stretches of the season,” Hyde said. “There’s actually one coming up in June if you look at our schedule, not a ton of offdays, and we’re playing some pretty good opponents. We look at all those things.

“You plan ahead, but it’s always in pencil because so many things can happen on a nightly basis that can change. That’s something we’ll consider when he comes back if we’re in a stretch where we feel like we need to do it, and last year we were in a stretch when we needed to do it, and it saved our season. Those guys threw extremely well down the stretch because they had that extra day.”

What’s the word? “I just think it’s awesome, awesome what he’s doing. I think that short [promotion] that he has with the snorkel outfit, that’s funny every single time I watch it. To be able to show his personality and be out there with the fans, I think that’s fantastic.”-Hyde on owner David Rubenstein’s appearance in the “Splash Zone” seats during the game.

What does it mean? Hyde’s bullpen use will be closely monitored in the coming days. When will Kimbrel return to closing, or will Hyde decide he likes Cano—or someone else in that role?

What happened in the minor leagues? Shortstop Nick Maton had five hits and drove in three runs, first baseman Billy Cook had four RBIs and third baseman Coby Mayo hit his 12th home run as Triple-A Norfolk beat Memphis, 12-4.

It was the 400th win of Tides manager Buck Britton’s minor league career.

Leftfielder Connor Norby left the game with a left wrist injury, a move the Orioles say was precautionary.

Bowie was held to four hits in a 5-0 loss to Akron.

Rightfielder Elio Prado and third baseman Mac Horvath homered as High-A Aberdeen beat Hudson Valley, 5-3.

Centerfielder Braylin Tavera and shortstop Aron Estrada each had three RBIs as Single-A Delmarva defeated Kannapolis, 6-2.

What’s the stat of the day? 12. That’s the number of pitches Kimbrel needed to retire the side, tied for the second fewest he’s thrown in a game this season.

What’s next? John Means (1-0, 0.00) will get his second start of the season against Arizona’s Ryne Nelson (2-2, 5.23) at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday.

Call for questions: Each weekday, I’ll be answering at least one Orioles’ question. Please send yours to: [email protected]

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