Manager Buck Showalter spoke after tonight’s 3-2 victory about the importance of Brad Bergesen keeping the deficit at two runs after Vernon Wells’ homer in the first. The game could have gotten away from Bergesen and the Orioles, but they rallied.
“You see a lot of guys just let it snowball, but he didn’t,” Showalter said. “Pitched out of a tough jam there, first and second, nobody out. Showed a little toughness there of not letting it snowball and keeping us in the game.
“As good as our guys pitched tonight, I thought (Craig) Tatum was probably as close to a player of the game as it comes. Tatum threw out two guys and fought some cramps and different stuff over the course of the game. He almost lost the bottom of his hand on that track, sliding over on the throw that got by. Got a pretty good peel there.”
The Orioles pounded out 13 hits, but didn’t break open the game.
“We’d like to score some more runs, but if you just go by batting average, I think we’re sixth or seventh, but I’d like to open it up a little bit and get some margin of error,” Showalter said.
Two Orioles were doubled off the bases on line drives - Mark Reynolds in the fourth and Nolan Reimold in the sixth.
“The first one, the line drive to third base, I’ll wear it just a little bit, but the one to first base can’t happen,” Showalter said.
Why take some of the blame for the first one?
“Because I’m being a little bit nice to you publicly. It shouldn’t happen, either, if you’re anticipating and thinking about it,” Showalter said.
“If you’re taking a good secondary lead there, I can see how it can be bang-bang, but if you’re anticipating, it shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen.”
Going back to Bergesen, Showalter talked about why the right-hander has been better in his last two starts, though the statistics weren’t overly impressive in his previous game.
“I think he’s attacking the strike zone a little bit more. That’s one of the keys,” Showalter said. “They’re an aggressive-swinging club, and if he can get some late life on the fastball, he can get some outs. I’m sure he got a lot of ground ball outs. It’s been about trying to change planes a little bit with the breaking ball and trying to get the difference between his fastball and his changeup a little wider. You can’t just stay hard and everything within two or three miles per hour and stay on the same plane and expect to get major league hitters out, and he’s done a better job of that.
“A key, too, is we worked hard with him - I know Rick (Adair) has worked hard with all our guys - about times to the plate. If he’s not 1.22 and 1.21 to the plate on the two that (Tatum) threw out, he’s probably not still in that game. That’s one of the challenges that (Brian) Matusz is having.”
Adam Jones hit his 17th homer tonight, produced a tie-breaking sacrifice fly and increased his team-leading RBI total to 58.
“I’ve said it quite a few times and the first day of spring training, regardless of what’s going on with our pitching, our team, whatever, Adam’s been solid,” Showalter said. “With one exception, nobody in the American League’s played the game with more passion and energy than Adam has.”
You can try to guess the one exception. I have a pretty good idea.
And finally, Showalter didn’t bring back Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara for another inning, choosing instead to call upon closer Kevin Gregg in the ninth. Gregg stranded the potential tying run at second and recorded his 16th save.
“You’re always tempted, but we want them back tomorrow and we have an off-day coming up and then a pretty good stretch,” Showalter said. “I know you get asked that question all the time and that’s why you ask it, but there’s a reason why those three guys have stayed healthy this year and I try to keep that in mind with the amount of stress we put on the bullpen over the course of the year. The three guys who are pitching well, I’m going to do everything possible to keep them healthy because I really don’t like the idea of life without them.”