Just another night at the office.
The game officially ended with one out in the 12th inning when pinch-runner Jake Fox followed Derrek Lee across the plate on J.J. Hardy’s single into center field.
Showalter toyed with the idea of using pitcher Jeremy Guthrie as a pinch-runner for Vladimir Guerrero at second base, which might not have brought the desired result after Mariners shortstop Luis Rodriguez made a diving stop with the bases loaded to rob Matt Wieters.
“We had a running bet whether Guthrie would have gotten doubled off if we let him run instead of Jake,” manager Buck Showalter said. “What do you think? He just told me, ‘I would have been halfway to third.’”
Hardy ended up the hero, but Zach Britton was the story of the game with his nine scoreless innings.
“I think he had two or three three-ball counts all night,” Showalter said. “And you get a tempo. You look up there in the ninth inning and it was like 10 (minutes) after 9. You’ve got to have some cooperation, which I wish we hadn’t had from (Jason) Vargas tonight to do that, but his tempo...we talk about the presentation and the tempo and what it presents sometimes. You’re always asking them to operate at your pace, and you don’t let the hitter dictate the pace at which he has to react to your pitches.”
Showalter had Kevin Gregg warming in the eighth, but he let Britton pitch the ninth. Did he wrestle with the decision?
“Yeah, I did,” Showalter replied. “I made a call to Knoxville and Goose (Mark Connor) wouldn’t pick up the phone. It was tough. I thought because he had an extra day of rest this time out, and we also felt like with the tempo and effort... I say ‘we.’ I can’t tell you that everybody was in agreement, but I just felt like where we were in the order and where the matchup was with Gregg and Ichiro, who’s one guy he’s had struggles with, that we’d at least take him through Ichiro.”
Britton ended up with a no-decision because the Orioles couldn’t score until the 12th.
“One of the worst things that can be said in the dugout when a guy’s pitching like Zach is, ‘Come on, let’s get him some runs,’ because it just heightens the anxiety,” Showalter said. “They’re trying. If you could sit in our dugout for a couple innings, you’d see what I’m talking about.”
Now the Orioles are headed to Tampa, winners of three in a row after being swept here by the Rays.
“It would have been a tougher plane ride, that’s for sure, to waste an effort like we got from Zach tonight,” Showalter said. “We’ll turn the page and do some traveling. Mr. Toad’s Magic Ride, or whatever. Just get on the plane and head to Tampa and see what the boys have in store for me tomorrow, and us.
“No more re-writes. Maybe.”