Orioles notes: Brach resets after blown save; Cobb hits wrinkle; Wright to start Tuesday

Orioles right-hander Brad Brach acknowledged that he allowed some of his rocky outings to linger last year in his time as the team’s interim closer.

But after a blown save in his first ninth-inning opportunity of the season on Thursday’s Opening Day, he found comfort in holding his 4-month-old daughter, Brilee, in the hallway outside the Orioles clubhouse after the team’s 3-2 extra-innings win.


This spring, Brach said that he hoped becoming a father would prevent blown saves from getting to him — Brach converted 18 of 22 opportunities as a closer last year — and his first hiccup of the season allowed him to reset.

“I think it’s definitely going to help, because I know once I leave the field that it’s not baseball 24/7 anymore,” Brach said. “When I go home, I’ve got to be a dad and a husband and all that stuff, so I think it definitely helps. Yesterday, I think the best thing was having the off day because I was able to get off the routine a little bit. I didn’t have to think about it over and over. It’s just the first one, and you always want to do well with the first one ,and when you don’t do as well, as you think you can it’s just always difficult. But it’s just one of those things you’ve got to move on from and go one from here.”


In allowing two runs in the ninth inning, Brach was hurt by a groundball that first baseman Chris Davis lost in the lights and an 11-pitch battle he lost to Max Kepler with two outs in the inning. Brach got ahead 0-2 before Kepler fouled off five pitches as he worked a walk. Pinch hitter Robbie Grossman followed with a two-run bloop single to shallow center that tied the game and took a win away from starter Dylan Bundy.

“I’ve just got to finish the game,” Brach said. “I had two outs, two strikes [on Kepler] and had him buried in the count and sometimes you just have to give the hitter credit. He just fouled off everything I threw him. I told [catcher] Caleb [Joseph] I was about ready to drop down and throw him a fastball because he fouled everything else off. … I really wanted to finish, and I thought I had him and threw a bunch of pitches, and he was just able to foul them off, and then Grossman with the bloop single to center. That’s baseball, it’s a game of inches. Yeah, I’ve just got to finish.

“There were a few times last year when I had two outs, two strikes, and I blew a save, and I just want to be able to continue to finish out the game when you get that closer.”

Cobb’s preparation for season hits a wrinkle

Showalter said Saturday afternoon that the Orioles had been working to allow right-hander Alex Cobb to use major league baseballs in what is expected to be his final tuneup before joining the Orioles’ starting rotation on April 9, which was the determining factor in whether Cobb would pitch for Double-A Bowie on April 9 or throw a simulated game beforehand on the same day.

Typically, only pitchers on a minor league rehab assignment as part of a DL stint are allowed to pitch with major league baseballs. But Cobb isn’t hurt and was optioned to the minors with his approval so he could build innings in Sarasota and then with an affiliate once the minor league season begins.

The decision whether to allow a pitcher not on a rehab assignment permission to use a different baseball is up to the president of each league. On Saturday night, Eastern League president Joe McEacharn said he will allow Cobb to use major league baseballs for his game with Bowie, according to Minor League Baseball senior director of communications Jeff Lantz. Former Oriole Jake Arrieta, also working his innings count up after signing late with the Phillies, would also be able to use major league baseballs if he pitches with the Phillies’ Eastern League team in Reading.

Cobb threw a four-inning, 48-pitch simulated game in Sarasota on Friday. He’s expected to throw one more simulated game in Sarasota, likely a five-inning outing Wednesday. The Orioles want Cobb to work up to six innings, and since the team optioned him to Double-A Bowie to open the season, that outing would have to come as a member of the Baysox on April 9, when Bowie plays at home against Erie.

The minor league baseball has higher seams and a different feel, and pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, as Cobb did in 2015, don’t like to throw it.

“Alex will not throw that baseball, so if they make him throw it, which that’s where they’re going, we’re going to have to come up with another plan,” Showalter said.

Showalter said that unless Cobb was allowed to use major league baseballs, he wouldn’t pitch in the Baysox game, but instead in a pregame simulated game at Prince George’s Stadium on April 9, which would rob the Baysox from a certain attendance spike for that night’s game.

Showalter said that Cobb should then be ready to join the rotation, pitching his first game with the Orioles at the earliest April 14 in Boston.

“[That’s] in a perfect world,” Showalter said. “It could be later than that. We’re not going to put any [rush]. But I can tell you that’s the earliest we’ll see him.”


Wright to assume fifth rotation spot for now

Showalter announced that right-hander Mike Wright will pitch the Orioles’ fifth game of the season Tuesday in Houston.

There was consideration for Bundy to pitch Tuesday on regular rest after Friday’s day off, but he will get an extra day of rest instead after pitching seven scoreless innings in Thursday’s season opener.

Wright was selected over right-hander Miguel Castro and left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. to man the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Wright, who had a 6.65 ERA in six spring training appearances (five starts), might only receive two starts before Cobb is ready to join the rotation.

Around the horn

Mark Trumbo (quad) is slated to leave for Sarasota after Sunday’s series finale against Minnesota to resume his rehab as the team’s spring training facility. Trumbo, who has been doing some light tee work, is scheduled to begin taking live batting practice Monday and should be playing in extended spring training games starting April 6. … Closer Zach Britton (Achilles tendon) will remain with the team for the first road trip of the season to Houston and New York. … Catcher Chance Sisco is expected to get his first start of the season in Sunday’s series finale against the Twins, Showalter said.

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