The Orioles’ roster crunch might make rookie right-hander Mychal Givens’ first trip to the major leagues a short one. But if he is sent back to the minors Thursday, he leaves having made a strong impression in his one big league outing.
Givens entered in the eighth inning of the Orioles’ 5-1 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night, jogging to the mound from the visiting bullpen of Fenway Park to the sound of the crowd singing Sweet Caroline.
How’s that for atmosphere for a big league debut?
“My heart was pounding a little bit, but after the first pitch, it went away,” Givens said. “I just wanted to treat it like any other game, but just go out there and live in the moment.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has been one of Givens’ strongest advocates as he’s made the transition from shortstop to reliever, wanted to make sure he got Givens in a game. Promoted from Double-A Bowie on Saturday, Givens warmed up both Saturday and Sunday in Toronto but didn’t get the call.
“The few times I got warmed up and was hot, the adrenaline was going and my heart was beating,” Givens said. “I was just trying to take everything in and enjoy the path I’ve been on.”
Showalter gave him the opportunity on Wednesday against Boston’s 3-4-5 hitters, not including original No. 3 hitter Dustin Pedroia, who had left the game with an injury.
Givens, the first member of the Orioles’ 2009 draft class to play in the majors, sent the Red Sox down in order, inducing groundouts to retire Travis Shaw and David Ortiz before striking out Mike Napoli swinging to end the inning.
With his deceptive and unconventional low three-quarters/sidearm delivery, Givens’ fastball sat at 95-96 mph on the stadium radar gun. He retired Napoli on an 86-mph slider.
“I wanted him to start the inning clean,” Showalter said. “He had six days off, a lot of adrenaline going. … He’s got a lot more fastball there, too. I didn’t want him to leave here without getting an inning under his belt. … You can see why everybody is excited about his stuff. [Bowie pitching coach] Alan Mills and [manager] Gary [Kendall], they’ve done a great job. Two years ago, this guy was playing shortstop.”
Givens received three game-used baseballs from his outing as mementos of his debut. But with the Orioles needing to make a roster move Thursday to activate Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list to start Thursday’s series finale, Givens could be the odd man out.
If Givens is sent back to the minors, it will be interesting to see where he goes. Will he advance a level and be sent to Triple-A Norfolk or will he return to Bowie, where he can continue to flourish under Mills’ guidance?
“I’m just living in the moment and trying to do my best,” Givens said about his debut. “It has been a little bump in the path with playing shortstop and now being a pitcher, but now since it’s done, I’m happy to be here.”
Regardless of where he might go, there's no way this is the last we've seen of Givens this season. Since he is an optionable multi-inning reliever, he gives Showalter yet another option when the club needs to replenish its bullpen.
A couple of morning notes:
-- Despite allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings Wednesday, Bud Norris’ ERA actually went down since all five runs were unearned. (The Orioles committed two errors and had a passed ball during Boston's five-run sixth.) So Norris’ season ERA dropped from 7.57 to 6.70.
Wednesday’s game marked the second time since 1965 that the Orioles allowed at least five runs and all of them were unearned – a peculiar situation that last happened on July 11, 1990 against the Kansas City Royals in a 7-5 win. It was also the first time they’ve lost a game under those parameters since Aug. 4, 1964 at the Los Angeles Angels.
-- Designated hitter Jimmy Paredes seems to be getting his mojo back. Paredes had two more hits Wednesday for his third straight multi-hit game.
Paredes had gone through a rough stretch. Over a 16-game span from May 28 to June 18, Paredes hit just .169, going 10-for-59 with 23 strikeouts. He saw his batting average dip 56 points from .353 to .297.
Playing the Red Sox might be just the right thing to get him out of his slump. He is hitting .439 (18-for-41) with seven extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple and two homers) and eight RBIs in nine games against Boston this season.
-- Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to six games after going 1-for-4 on Wednesday. He is hitting .482 (13-for-27) with three doubles, one homer and six RBIs during that span.
-- Givens became the 999th player to appear in a game for the Orioles in club history since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.