Despite a noticeable dip in his typical velocity, right-hander Mychal Givens pitched two strong innings to provide the Orioles with a bullpen rescue in Wednesday’s 12-5 win in Boston.
An early nine-run lead became dicey in the fifth inning when starter Ubaldo Jimenez loaded the bases with one out. Givens allowed one inherited run to score on Xander Bogaerts’ RBI single, but prevented further damage by striking out Pablo Sandoval and inducing an inning-ending flyout from Chris Young.
After allowing Bogaerts’ single, Givens retired the six of the last seven batters he faced over parts of three separate innings. The only other base runner against him came when he hit Andrew Benintendi with two outs in the sixth.
Givens was credited with the win since Jimenez failed to get through five innings.
Even though the Orioles took a huge lead, Givens said he still prepared for the possibility of getting into the game. Givens has two of the team’s five wins, also earning a victory after tossing a scoreless seventh in a tied game Saturday against the New York Yankees.
“I expect it in whatever situation, no matter what happens,” Givens said. “The Red Sox have a really good lineup and they were chipping away. I was just trying to go out there and minimize the damage and have our offense do what they’ve been doing.”
However, Givens’ velocity dip will place added focus on his upcoming outings going forward. After averaging 95 mph in his first three outings, Givens’ fastball on Wednesday averaged 91.8 mph, according to BrooksBaseball.com. His slider velocity was also about 3 mph down as well.
Givens’ fastball averaged 95 mph in 2015 and 2016.
Givens attributed the discrepancy to the cold and taking more time to get loose. He indicated there’s no problem physically.
“Being around [bullpen coach Alan Mills, he tells you] sometimes you’re not going to have your best stuff. And going out there, pitching down in the zone and knowing how to pitch in and changing eye levels and changing speeds is a big part,” Givens said. “Going out there, it was a pretty cold day, but going out there and just minimizing the damage, go out there and attack hitters.”
Givens’ fastball ranged from 90.5 (his first pitch of the sixth inning) to 94.8 (his last pitch of the fifth), and he gradually built up his velocity over the course of his outing, throwing his first three fastballs at 91, then ending his appearance with six of his last seven fastballs at 92.5 mph or higher.