The Orioles swept the Athletics in a three-game series for the first time since Aug. 15-17, 2005. They hadn’t swept the A’s in a three-game series in Baltimore since July 21-23, 1998.
Didn’t the A’s sweep the Orioles in Oakland two weeks ago?
Yes, they did, but they’ve now lost nine games in a row.
“I didn’t bring it up and I’ve got to tell you, until somebody told me before we started the series, I hadn’t really noticed it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “They don’t care about our struggles out there, and I have empathy for them. We’ve all been there and will be again, but you’ve got to take care of business. And you’re going to have those moments when somebody’s going to try to step on you, too. We know they’re wounded a little bit with their health like we will be and have been and are to some extent. It’s part of the job description here. It really wasn’t a topic of conversation.”
Showalter removed Zach Britton after 6 1/3 innings and 79 pitches.
“I don’t know about running out of gas,” Showalter said. “We’ve all got some gas.”
He must have roomed with Peter Schmuck in spring training.
“You know when that light comes on and you’ve still got two gallons? You guys ever try to see how close you can get it without running out, see if you can get all 22 gallons in there?” Showalter said. “He was laboring a little bit. Also, a lot of it had to do with the option (Jim Johnson) I had with the off day tomorrow. I just didn’t like the (Adam) Rosales matchup. I thought he had centered him up and had some good at-bats against him and looked pretty comfortable against left-handed pitching. One of our guys knows Rosales real well from the Mexican League and I talked to him a little bit. You can kind of multiply the pitch count and the innings, and also I wanted to get him out of there on a positive note and not have, the very worst, a no-decision. But I think the biggest thing was the option we had to go to. J.J.’s been pretty good for us.”
Britton hadn’t been as good lately, allowing 11 earned runs (13 total) and 16 hits in his last two starts covering 10 2/3 innings.
“He was crisper, had better tempo, was finishing his pitches,” Showalter said. “I thought he had a lot of borderline pitches that didn’t quite go his way and turned some counts around. I was going to let him face (David) DeJesus in that last inning and that was the last hitter regardless. I really thought he was crisper and I thought the weather took a little bit of that crispness out as he went on.”
Was it wearing on Britton that he hadn’t won in his last six starts?
“Probably,” Showalter said. “We’ve got to keep in mind, and I try to every day, where they are. Zach spent half a year in Triple-A. There’s a lot of things thrown at them that they haven’t had before, and sometimes it’s what they perceive as failure. I had a little conversation with him after his last start. I think it was more for my sake than his, just a little three-minute... I thought I had a feel for where he was mentally and I felt like I was right after talking to him.”
The bullpen continues to be magnificent. Johnson allowed an unearned run in 1 2/3 innings, though the official scorer is debating whether Nolan Reimold should still be charged with a three-base error after losing a ball in the lights to begin the eighth inning. Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save.
“I think we scored 11 runs in three games and won three games,” Showalter said. “We were real frustrated coming out of Oakland, and to be able to kind of return the favor here, I know it felt good for our guys.”
Mark Reynolds hit his team-leading 10th home run tonight, a two-run shot that increased the lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning.
“Some of the pitches that he should be driving that he was ticking back to the screen he’s centering up now,” Showalter said. “And he’s got such damage-to-contact ratio. I thought for a second he had gotten the first one. You never know with weather like this if it’s going to help the ball or not. I don’t think he’s missing mistakes as much. So many times over the course of the season, he’s fouled a ball back and everybody in the dugout, ‘Oh, ah, just missed it.’ Well, I think he’s getting a little tired of that just-missed-it stuff. He’s been doing some damage.”