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Richard Bleier's Injury Makes Bad Orioles Season Even Worse

June 14, 2018
BALTIMORE -- As the Orioles' troublesome season continues to devolve, misfortune has now hit their most reliable reliever.

During the eighth inning of the Orioles' 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox June 13, left-handed reliever Richard Bleier began writhing in pain

Bleier knew he had to come out of the game, and initial reports indicated he suffered a lat injury. He said he would have an MRI June 14.

"I just felt something in the lat area, or whatever, obviously it was unpleasant." Bleier said. "Any injury is not good and to the point where there was no question I couldn't make another pitch. That's obviously not good."

Bleier has a 1.93 ERA in 32.2 innings this season, and his injury came a day after Orioles closer Zach Britton pitched for the first time this season and three days after reliever Darren O'Day returned from the disabled list.

The Orioles' bullpen, an area of strength for a team that's suffering through its third seven-game losing streak of the season, will against be without a key component.

"It's obviously not good for everyone and everything's kind of not going well, so it just compounds that," Bleier said.

Rookie right-hander Yefry Ramirez started the game in place of Andrew Cashner, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain. Cashner had an MRI and was heartened by the results.

"I mean, definitely, my back started cramping up my last start, a mild strain, but I think I can be able to make my next start," Cashner said.

Cashner is eligible to return June 19.

Ramirez, who was summoned from Triple-A Norfolk, may be headed back to the Tides quickly. In 12 starts for Norfolk, the 24-year-old right-hander is 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA, and in his initial Orioles start, he allowed three runs in 4.1 innings.

Ramirez was one of just two healthy starting pitchers on the 40-man roster, and the other, Jimmy Yacabonis, is in his first season of starting and would have been pitching on three days rest.

Ramirez was acquired from the New York Yankees July 31, 2017 for International Bonus Signing Slots.

"If I could ask one thing from the baseball gods today, it's that he get the first inning under his belt," manager Buck Showalter said before the game. "I hope he handles it as well as David [Hess] has."

Unlike Hess, who won his first game against Tampa Bay May 12, Ramirez got the loss, but fulfilled Showalter's wish by getting through the first -- and second inning -- unscathed.

Boston right fielder Mookie Betts, who regularly torments the Orioles, homered in the third, and after Ramirez walked Betts and left fielder Andrew Benintendi with one out in the fifth, he was lifted for right-hander Mike Wright, who allowed the two runs to score.

"I definitely felt a little bit nervous when I was told I was opening, especially [with] the Orioles," Ramirez said through a translator. "After the game [started], after a few pitches, after a few innings, I tried to settle down and calm my nerves and just try to concentrate on the same things I was able to do in Triple-A, to try to do it over here."

Should the Orioles need another spot starter, Ramirez presented himself as an option.

"It was a tough situation," Showalter said. "He flies in here last night and walks in the locker room, it's a sticky day. He hadn't thrown barely over 90 pitches this year. … I thought he held his own for the most part. He gave us a chance. I was proud of him.

"Tough lineup and he competed and didn't implode and start walking a bunch of people. He made some out pitches and you see why he's won a lot of baseball games in his minor league career. I'm glad he got the opportunity."

Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox