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Orioles notebook: Bullpen remains vulnerable versus lefties late in games

Orioles notebook: Bullpen remains vulnerable versus lefties late in games
Orioles relief pitcher Ashur Tolliver, right, stands on the mound as Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Monday, May 30, 2016. Boston won 7-2. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

The Orioles' late-game frailty when it comes to left-handed hitters showed itself Monday when both Ashur Tolliver and Mychal Givens allowed home runs to lefties. But for now, it will continue to be Tolliver as the situational left-hander coming out of the bullpen in those circumstances.

Tolliver said he feels that with every appearance, he's settling in better and better.

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"I feel like everything's going good," Tolliver said. "The staff and everybody's been good. We've been working on some things. I don't think anybody was expecting to just come up here the first time, straight from Double-A, and just dominate every time out. That's not even realistic. But I've felt comfortable out there, and it'll get better with each outing, a little more comfortable. But I think it's gone good so far."

Tolliver allowed his first major league earned run on a home run by Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, on a changeup that caught too much of the plate. Tolliver said it would have been a home run even if one of the best hitters in a generation wasn't in the batter's box.

"David Ortiz is David Ortiz. He's one of the best hitters in the game, one of the most respected hitters in all the game, but once I get in there, I'm not thinking about that. I'm just thinking of another guy I'm trying to get out," Tolliver said. "I tried to throw a changeup down right there. I just didn't get it down. I threw the ball over the middle of the plate, and a guy like that makes you pay for that."

Over his brief major league career, Tolliver has struck out three of the six lefties he has faced, with the Ortiz home run the only hit he allowed to a left-handed hitter. Lefties were batting .211 off him this year with Double-A Bowie before his promotion.

The second home run was allowed by Givens, who has been among the game's best relievers against righties but is allowing lefties to hit .467/.529/.733 in 34 plate appearances. They tried to sneak him through Monday's outing with one left-hander, Marco Hernandez, in a long string of righties, but he allowed a three-run home run. Two of the runs were charged to Tolliver.

That leaves the Orioles with Brad Brach and Darren O'Day as their other best weapons against left-handers, but the priority in using them is dictated more by game situation than the batter's handedness.

Day off for Kim: Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim got his first day off since ascending to the starting lineup Tuesday, marking the end of a six-game stretch of starts. Over that stretch, he went 7-for-21 (.333) with a home run and two doubles.

Kim sat Tuesday against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, with Nolan Reimold getting his 12th start of the season against a left-handed pitcher. Joey Rickard also returned to the lineup after starting just once in the previous four games. Monday was the first day Rickard didn't get into a game as an Oriole.

Around the horn: In advance of the OriolesREACH Food and Funds drive June 3-5 at Camden Yards, a group of Orioles wives and fiancés attending the packing event, including Jenae Brach, Jill Davis, Taylor North, Jamie Russell and Angela Showalter, will pack and distribute food at the Maryland Food Bank on Wednesday. Collections will be held entering the ballpark during all three games this weekend. … The High-A Frederick Keys swept the Carolina League weekly awards, with catcher Wynston Sawyer earning Player of the Week and right-hander Matthew Grimes earning Pitcher of the Week. … Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. left the Red Sox on paternity leave Tuesday, and isn't expected to return this series. Outfielder Rusney Castillo replaced him on the roster.

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