Buck Showalter needs two more wins to pass Don Zimmer for sole possession for 64th place on the all-time list.
That subject didn’t come up today.
Brian Roberts is in the lineup, but Showalter will monitor him in batting practice.
“So far, so good,” Showalter said. “It looks like he’s a go.”
Showalter wanted to make sure that he started Corey Patterson tonight, and it became easier with Josh Bell on the bench. Ty Wigginton moves to third base, Luke Scott plays first and the DH slot opens up.
“I want to get Patty in there. I don’t want him to sit too long,” Showalter said.
So what has Showalter seen over these first two games?
“Just a sense of urgency. That’s always good to see,” he said. “It’s not like it hasn’t been there all the time. I like to see the smiles on their faces when they win a ballgame.”
Asked to explain “a sense of urgency,” he said, “It’s something you feel, something you see. It’s a throw to second base last night on a stolen base attempt, where Adam (Jones) was breaking hard to second base to back up in case the ball went into center field, even though it didn’t. Felix (Pie) backing up the angle of a throw from right field from Nick (Markakis) behind second. Off-ball tells you a lot of things, instead of concentrating where the ball is. You can see a lot of things off-ball. It’s just a sense of purpose.”
Opponents were successful on 26 consecutive stolen-base attempts before Matt Wieters cut down Torii Hunter in the ninth inning.
The blame doesn’t rest entirely on the catchers’ shoulders.
“That’s really one of the first ones that Matt had a real shot at,” Showalter said. “One of the problems is, guys come up from the minor leagues and we’re so adamant about teaching them secondary pitches, but you’ve got to treat the ability to hold runners like teaching a secondary pitch. That’s part of the finishing process.
“That’s one of the challenges up here. Everything’s done at a little bit faster rate. Where professional athletes struggle at this level is when you ask them to do something at a pace they’re not used to. The pace gets sped up here. Guys are half-a-step faster down the line, you have to rush a little bit more throwing, you have to be able to throw on the move. Matt’s had to rush a lot trying to make up that time.
“It’s not always the pitcher’s fault, but certainly it’s something you need to be good at. That’s one of the first things I always ask: ‘How does he hold runners? How does he field his position? Does he understand the sequence and the fact that his head moves both ways - east and west, north and south?’”
I’ll leave you with this line from Showalter:
“There’s nothing like a baseball season to expose strengths and weaknesses. You don’t ever hear anybody talk about a Cinderella team in baseball. When you play 162 games, you earn it.”