Stacey Long: The importance of Josh Rupe

In last night's loss to the Detroit Tigers, Josh Rupe pitched in relief and had what appeared to be a subpar outing. While he did give up two runs in three innings, Rupe actually saved the bullpen from what could have been a very taxing evening and subsequently a rough weekend.

With starter Brad Bergesen unable to make it out of the fourth inning, the Orioles' bullpen was called on to pitch 5 1/3 innings in relief, not an easy task. With another game against the Tigers today and a weekend series against the defending American League champion Texas Rangers, relying on too many relievers last night could have resulted in disaster.

It's especially important given the possibility that Jeremy Guthrie won't be able to start on Sunday, in which case the O's will be relying on a minor league call up.

And while Rupe was the one out there working through three tough innings, credit has to be given to manager Buck Showalter for sticking with Rupe after he surrendered back-to-back home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

It would have been easy to pull Rupe in favor of another pitcher at that point, but Showalter stuck with him and was rewarded for his faith. Rupe went on to retire the next five batters he faced before getting into trouble again and being replaced by Mike Gonzalez. Showalter has shown great skill for bullpen management since his arrival in Baltimore and this was just another example.

A short outing by a starting pitcher can sometimes kick off a chain reaction if the bullpen is overtaxed as a result, and with one of the toughest offenses in baseball set to arrive in Baltimore on Friday, the Orioles couldn't afford to go down that road.

They'll now head into the rubber game with the Tigers with a bullpen at nearly full strength, and in the event that Chris Tillman should falter, they'll still be prepared to handle the Rangers this weekend.

Stacey Long blogs about the Orioles at Camden Chat. Read Long's Orioles observations this week, as MASNsports.com begins a season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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