ARLINGTON, TEX. — In the heat of the 2019 draft, which will be remembered for bringing potential generational prospect Adley Rutschman to the Orioles, the major league club built to survive this season — and ideally earn next year's top pick — managed to avoid a loss in a manner only they could.
The Orioles got three home runs from catcher Pedro Severino and six RBIs from left fielder Dwight Smith Jr. — both career highs — and nearly watched their seven-run, ninth-inning lead disappear in a tense 12-11 win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park on Tuesday.
Nearly all of their production came from players who have been cast aside by their original teams in the last year, highlighting a roster that’s long on major-league long-shots but had all their horses come in at once on Tuesday. Yet nearly all of the drama came from a bullpen that has made a sport of turning leads into losses.
They almost did again Tuesday when Josh Lucas loaded the bases on an error and two walks, had all three runs score on Richard Bleier’s watch before Bleier allowed three of his own, required Mychal Givens to strand the tying run on base with two strikeouts in the ninth. Even that required a perfect throw from Severino behind home plate to first base on a swinging third strike that went to the backstop, finally sealing the win.
It obscured what was a lightning-in-a-bottle night for their scrap-heap lineup, and almost prevented what would have been a delightful win following a much-needed day off.
“It’s not easy,” manager Brandon Hyde said, “and I just think some guys are out there to prove that they’re big league players and playing well. Smitty, awesome night. [Severino] great night…
“I just want guys to have success and I know it’s a lot easier said than done. And when you’re facing a major league lineup that’s in a hitters’ ballpark, that’s tough to do. We didn’t help them out defensively a ton. I want to see them throw strikes and be able to put guys away.”
Severino homered in the first, seventh and ninth innings to bump his season total from five to eight, and bring his team-high OPS to .937. He was claimed off waivers in March from the Washington Nationals.
Smith reached base four times and drove in six runs — three on his first-inning home run and three on a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning. He was designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays in March and acquired in a trade.
Recently-designated outfielder Keon Broxton, acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, added a home run of his own, and Rule 5 pick Richie Martin had two hits of his own.
Leadoff man Hanser Alberto, who was originally designated for assignment by these same Texas Rangers in the fall and changed teams four times before sticking with the Orioles, led them all with four hits against his old club.
The only run that wasn't from the fringes of another roster came on a sacrifice fly by Trey Mancini, and it was all plenty to back up an unremarkable-but-winning start by right-hander Dylan Bundy to improve the Orioles to 19-41 at the 60-game mark of the season.
That it's a team of second-chancers just trying to stay in the big leagues as long as they can isn't necessarily an excuse when they lose, but it's certainly worth noting when players who largely have the talent but lack the consistency to show it on a daily basis at this level do it all at once.
Rangers starter Drew Smyly was made to work from the start, and even as Bundy didn't have his best stuff, he got through it without issue and pitched into the sixth inning, his advantage ever-growing.
Bundy was allowed to come back out for the sixth as he approached 100 pitches, with three runs in on five hits, but allowed a single and gave way to a relief train that grew much longer than it had any reason to be.
After Paul Fry shut down Bundy’s sixth, Branden Kline and Shawn Armstrong allowed a run apiece to heat up the kettle for Lucas, Bleier, and Givens in a cauldron of a ninth inning.
“When you give up eight runs — how many runs did we give up in the last three innings? — You’d like to see that number a little lower,” Hyde said.
“It’s tough,” Bundy said. “You’re just hoping you can get three outs as quick as possible with more runs on the board than they have. We were able to do that and come away with a ‘W.’”
Chris Davis returns
After serving his 10 days on the injured list with a sore hip, first baseman Chris Davis returned to the lineup and struck out in three of his five at-bats, popping up in the other two.
Davis' average is down to .164.
It wasn't all glory for the Orioles Tuesday, with one of the more inexplicable plays in baseball repeating itself to create a moment they'll want to forget.
With a runner on first in the seventh, Kline bounced a slider in front of Severino, and Delino DeShields took off for second. By the time Severino corralled the ball from the dirt in front of home plate, none of the infielders moved and Severino's throw hit DeShields on the base, allowing him to advance to third.
Austin Wynns did the same thing in Chicago on May 1, although his throw hit nothing on its way to the outfield.
The Orioles ended up making four errors in the win.