For the fourth time this season, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde summoned a position player from his dugout to cover the last inning of a blowout loss when utility man Stevie Wilkerson came in to pitch the ninth inning of Friday’s 16-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
In taking on something of an inglorious task, Wilkerson’s mindset captured the challenge of a game getting to the point that such services are required — even if he managed to have fun with it.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and not make too much of a mockery of it,” said Wilkerson, who got three flyouts on 10 pitches.
He joked that he wanted to establish his fastball before categorizing his pitches as “poo-poo, 67 mph floaters,” though he gave himself credit for throwing the ball over the plate.
"Wilky's got a lot of confidence," manager Brandon Hyde said. "Now, it's even boosted a little bit higher."
Wilkerson, who joined Chris Davis, Jesús Sucre and Hanser Alberto as position players who have pitched this season, said he was proud to help the bullpen when the team needed it.
It came on a day when starter Dylan Bundy went one inning, and with a newcomer — Aaron Brooks — who has pitched in relief since May starting the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Hyde said he had planned for right-hander Gabriel Ynoa to follow Brooks in the matinee Saturday, but now the length in the bullpen is limited mostly to 26th-man David Hess and Jimmy Yacabonis.
"We had to try to finish a major league baseball game somehow with a doubleheader the next day," Hyde said. "Now, we have a starter going the first game of a doubleheader that is going to go one, two, maybe possibly three innings if possible, and then try to figure it out, and play a game again tonight. We'll see how it goes. I don't know. We'll try to piece it together."
Bundy to injured list
Bundy, who didn’t return after a seven-run first inning Friday, was evaluated and diagnosed with right knee tendinitis Saturday morning, Hyde said.
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As a result, the Orioles placed Bundy on the 10-day injured list, recalling right-hander Tayler Scott from Triple-A Norfolk.
“We’re in a tough spot," Hyde said. "We’ve been doing this all year it feels like, except for the last couple of series where you could almost manage a bullpen in a normal situation.”
Scott was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners on June 25 and has had four scoreless outings at Triple-A Norfolk.
After Saturday’s afternoon game, Hyde said the Orioles didn’t expect Bundy to be out long.
“I just think he’s going to miss a start, from what it sounds like to me,” Hyde said. “I think we’re going to monitor him, obviously every day. We’re hoping he’s just missing one start. We’ll have to fill that start against the Nationals [on Wednesday]. Might do a [Aaron] Brooks-type of situation again where we continue to build him up. But we haven’t really discussed it too much so far in here yet.”
Hyde said right-hander Nate Karns (forearm strain) felt good physically after recording two outs and allowing three runs in a rehabilitation start for High-A Frederick. Karns’ next stop is at Double-A Bowie.