Bourn’s power provides ‘real lift’ for the O’s
OF has two homers in two starts; Brach, Givens switch order in relief
DETROIT — The Orioles didn’t trade for veteran outfielder Michael Bourn because of his power, but it has been an added bonus as their trade addition continues to impress in his first few weeks.
Bourn homered to open the Orioles’ scoring in their 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, and now has two home runs in two starts since joining the club Aug. 31. He’s batting .333 (4-for-12) with three RBIs in eight games, and has appeared as a defensive replacement in six of the seven games he didn’t start.
“Michael gave us a real lift today,” said manager Buck Showalter, who gave Bourn the start in right field because of his .371 career average against Tigers starter Justin Verlander. “It’s hard to find many track records against Verlander, because he wins the battle most of the time. Mike was in a position to contribute today, and he did.”
Bourn’s third-inning home run gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish, and gave the 33-year-old outfielder reason to smile in the final month of a season during which he has played in three organizations and struggled to find his footing.
“It’s a talented team, so I’m just happy to be a part of it,” Bourn said. “I like being a part of it. You know, I’m just trying to make the most of it, have fun while I’m doing [it] and enjoy the moment.” Showalter swaps Brach, Givens: Showalter shook up the team’s late-inning bullpen, at least for one day, moving All-Star reliever Brad Brach into the seventh inning and giving rookie Mychal Givens the eighth to preserve a 3-1 lead.
Showalter said the decision was matchup-based, with Brach, whose second-half swoon continued Friday, when he allowed the winning home run in the eighth inning, a better fit for the seventh inning Sunday, and nothing more.
“It was a good spot for him,” Showalter said. “I liked Mike at the top of the order there, and I liked Brad where they were with the left-handed hitters coming off the bench, potentially. You’re picking your poison this time of year.”
Essentially, Showalter bet on the Tigers’ pinch-hitting lefthanders at the bottom of their right-hander-dominant order against Givens, but not Brach. It paid off. Brach pitched a perfect seventh, and Givens ended up pitching himself into and out of a jam. He hit leadoff man Jose Iglesias, the No. 9 hitter, to open the eighth, then issued a one-out walk to Cameron Maybin, but he got Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play to end the inning.
“I know that is probably the best hitter out there in our generation,” Givens said of Cabrera. “I just went out there to compete and try to get us out of the inning.”
The move reversed their season-long positions, though there’s no indication the change is permanent. Amajority of Brach’s appearances have come in the eighth inning, and most of Givens’ in the seventh.
“It’s just a confidence boost,” said Givens, who lowered his ERA to 3.49.
“That was big,” closer Zach Britton said. “For a young guy in that situation, he hasn’t thrown that eighth inning very often. He did a great job. It’s a tough lineup, and he battled and made some good pitches. I think it just gives him confidence going forward.” Sept. 11 remembered: The Orioles joined 300 Detroit-area first responders on the field for the national anthem and wore flag patches on their hats to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Sometimes we need to take a look at maybe the world sometimes and see how good we have it here and see how lucky we all are to be born into the situation we’ve been born into compared to some other people,” Showalter said. “It’s just a reminder how fleeting it can be.” Around the horn: Catcher Caleb Joseph went 1-for-4 with a double but extended his run without an RBI this season to 124 at-bats after he struck out with a man on second base in the fourth inning.