When will they learn?
The game ended with Roger Bernadina taking Kevin Gregg’s 3-2 breaking ball for strike three and Wieters cutting down pinch-runner Brian Bixler at second. Wieters made a perfect throw. And it’s not like he caught a blazing fastball and gained additional time. We’re talking an 82 mph pitch.
Showalter has been telling his pitchers since spring training that if they just give Wieters a chance by being quicker to the plate out of the stretch, “he can really help you.”
Gregg is extremely quick to the plate, and Wieters proved Showalter’s point.
“That’s happened more than once this year in situations like that,” Showalter said. “And being accurate ... I just watched it coming through. We have players go in and watch it. Nicky (Markakis) was in there watching it. The accuracy of it. I’ll tell you how hard that is to do.”
Wieters has thrown out 13 of 27 runners attempting to steal.
The winning runs were provided by Vladimir Guerrero with one big swing in the seventh inning.
“Today’s a good example of what he can bring for us, just his presence as much as anything,” Showalter said. “A lot of times he walks through the door like he’s playing his first game of Little League, the zest that he has for the game and the day-to-day things that go on for a baseball team for seven or eight months. You look at a guy like him and you realize how much he’s going to miss it when he doesn’t play. I’ve been around him a while now and I’ve never seen him have a bad day. He’s always smiling. He doesn’t take himself too seriously for a guy who’s done the things that he’s done in his career.”
Guerrero is batting .309 with nine doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs in 43 games.
“I don’t care how old you are and how long you’ve been doing it, you want to impress a new team and teammates and whatever,” Showalter said. “First day he took batting practice, you see guys who have been playing just kind of stop and watch him. They have so much respect for him. Anytime a guy can do things that most people can’t do, and bring the intensity he brings every day, people are in a little bit of awe of him. I kid Jimmy (Presley) all the time. I’ll say, ‘Hey Pres, what are you working with Vladi on today?’
“I know you’re all going to roll your eyes, but he’s gotten a little more selective the last two or three weeks. He actually has. Now, what that constitutes, I’ll leave that up to all of you to figure out. And not just when he’s doing well like he is now. Very quietly he’s hitting close to .310 now. And he gets more fun out of it. He doesn’t give you that too cool to get excited about something. He’s genuinely excited about coming out and playing every day. He’s fun to have around.”
Chris Tillman left with a 1-0 deficit and was spared the loss. His lack of run support continues. The Orioles have totaled 14 runs in his eight starts while he’s been on the mound. Today marked the fourth time they didn’t score.
If only he could have stuck around a little longer.
“Our young pitchers, not all of them, but at times all of them, they’ve got to figure out a way to maximize their pitches,” Showalter said. “They get into some counts that they shouldn’t. I think he had close to 20 pitches to (Danny) Espinosa in five innings, and that was a fifth of his outing. I’m trying to say he had a lot better stuff. He should have been able to go deeper in that game.
“I thought stuff-wise he was the full package. He’s got some deception. It’s just fastball velocity fluctuates a lot. I’d just like to see him take that stuff deeper in the game. But that’s the challenge of most young pitchers.”
Gregg recorded his eighth save after walking pinch-hitter Matt Stairs with one out. Stairs is 3-for-4 with a double, home run, three RBIs and two walks lifetime against Gregg.
Koji Uehara was perfect in the eighth, but Showalter wasn’t going to bring him back out for the ninth. Uehara pitched the ninth inning yesterday and needs to be handled carefully.
“I think it’s pretty important that you keep in mind the history of Koji’s health,” Showalter said. “We are a lot better team with him healthy.”