Earlier this week, our own Drew Bonifant wrote about the tale two innings for Mychal Givens. Bonifant pointed out that Givens, who many expected to serves as the Orioles closer, has excelled in the eighth inning while struggling to close out games in the ninth. Tonight, Brandon Hyde called on Givens to pitch both.
As the splits predicted, Givens worked his way through the eighth without any trouble. He returned to the mound with the Orioles holding a two-run lead in the ninth, and then things got interesting. Givens allowed doubles to Leury Garcia and Jose Abreu that cut the lead in half.
However, once the tying run reached third base, Givens buckled down. He got James McCann to offer at a 2-2 slider outside of the strike zone for the second out, and retired Yoan Moncada with a ground ball to end the game. The Orioles held on for a 4-3 victory, and took the series at Camden Yards Wednesday night.
The stage was set for this game to slip away. After Garcia’s lead off double, he moved up to third on a grounder by Tim Anderson. Abreu drove him home, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. The Orioles caught a break when McCann failed to check his swing for the second out, but a sharp defensive play made the difference.
Orioles shortstop Richie Martin shifted towards second base when Moncada stepped to the plate. Moncada ripped a sharply hit grounder, but Martin made a sliding stop on the other side of second base, and made a strong throw to Rio Ruiz to end the game. Martin did not start, but entered as a defensive substitute late and saved the game.
John Means, the darling of the Orioles young season, gutted his way through five innings to earn the victory. He allowed only one run in the third inning, but had to pitch his way out of a mini jam in the fifth to stay eligible for a win. He notched his fifth and sixth strikeouts to start the frame, but a walk to Garcia put him over 90 pitches on the evening. After a visit to the mound, and with Evan Phillips warming in the bullpen, Anderson flew out to center field to end the inning.
The Orioles picked up where they left off Tuesday night and immediately jumped out to a two-run lead. Dwight Smith Jr. laced a two out double into center field for Baltimore’s first hit of the game. Renato Nunez followed with a double of his own to right-center field. The ball bounced once on the warning track before ricocheting off the wall, and Smith scored with ease.
With Nunez in scoring position, Rio Ruiz grounded a ball the other way that snuck its way into the outfield. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was playing close to second base, and could not reach the slow roller. Nunez motored his way around third, dove head first to beat the throw from left field, and the Birds let by two.
Baltimore tacked on another run in the bottom of the second. Joey Rickard led off the inning with a triple into the right field corner. Hanser Alberto stepped in after Rickard, and worked the count full. He eventually lifted a ball deep enough to left field to score Rickard and put the Orioles up three.
With one out in the fourth, Stevie Wilkerson jogged to first base after being hit by a pitch. The only problem? The ball didn’t hit him. After a quick review, Wilkerson returned to the plate. Unfazed, Wilkerson laced a 421 foot home run to center field. The blast was Wilkerson’s first Major League homer, and had to feel a lot better than reaching on a faulty HBP.
Phillips entered the game in the sixth and immediately worked his way into trouble. A single, a walk, and a swinging bunt loaded the bases with just one out. Phillips plunked Ryan Cordell with a slider to give the White Sox their second run. The Orioles then turned to Paul Fry, and he neutralized the threat. Fry posted a scoreless seventh inning to bridge the gap to Givens.
After a pair of blowouts went both ways, the Orioles won the only close contest in the series. While a series win against the sub-.500 White Sox in April may not mean much, these are the type of games that help players grow up. Means knew he had to work his way through the fifth to pick up a win, and he came through. Wilkerson saw the ball go over the fence for the first time, and Givens gutted his way through adversity. This year is all about player development for the Orioles, and a few young guns stepped up tonight.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 24, 2019?
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John Means (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO)
Renato Nunez (2-4, 2B, RBI)