BALTIMORE -- Mychal Givens, who has been one of the Orioles' most consistent pitchers out of the bullpen, escaped a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout in the sixth inning to help lead his team to a 15-7 victory over the Cardinals.
Baltimore had turned to Alec Asher out of the bullpen with a 12-4 lead and two outs in the sixth inning. Looking for the final out, Asher gave up a three-run home run, followed by back-to-back singles that prompted Orioles manager Buck Showalter to give the ball to Richard Bleier with runners on first and second. Bleier walked the only batter he faced before Showalter had to turn to Givens.
"I was hoping we could get Ash there, but you could tell the momentum of that game was starting to change," Showalter said. "Mychal was probably the key to the game today."
Givens entered the 12-7 ballgame with the bases loaded and Eric Fryer up to bat. Givens threw two straight 96-mph fastballs for strikes. The righty came back with another fastball, but this time cranked it up to 98.4 mph for a swinging strike three to escape the inning.
"Tough shadows, tough pitcher. He came in throwing smoke," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Yeah, the bases loaded is a great opportunity to maybe get us within one if something big happens. [Greg Garcia] did a nice job working a walk right before that. They were going to all-hands-on-deck at that point and bringing in one of their better pitchers."
"I feel good," Givens said. "Just go out there and try to shut down the inning and hopefully it gives us time to cover that bullpen. Just trying to pound the zone and get outs."
After the escape in the sixth, the righty escaped again in the seventh, but this time it was an injury Givens narrowly avoided. After Chad Huffman sent a line drive 104.1 mph, according to Statcast™, right back at Givens, the reliever reached across his body to get a glove on the ball, but the velocity of the line drive took Givens' glove off his hand. When the ball dropped to the ground and trickled away, Givens picked it up and threw it over to first in time to get the out.
"It just got the glove all the way," Givens said. "It just got enough that it knocked my glove off. He hit it pretty well, but [I] just stayed calm, had a mindset to just get the ball and get it to first base."
In his 2 1/3 innings, Givens allowed just one hit and struck out three batters on a career-high 42 pitches, lowering his season ERA to 2.57.
Givens said it didn't feel like he threw that many pitches.
"Just right now, just worrying about tomorrow and seeing how I feel," said Givens. "Last time I threw that was probably in the Minor Leagues. But I felt good."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore and covered the Orioles on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.