If we can believe Facebook, Jake Fox is replacing Blake Davis on the 25-man roster.
Here’s what he posted on his page: “I got the call today. I am headed back to be an Oriole in the morning. I have mixed feelings about going back because I was really looking forward to playing for team USA. Going back to the big leagues takes away my eligibility from playing in the world cup and pan am games. I am excited to be back in the big leagues, but disappointed I will miss the opportunity to represent our country.”
I thought athletes tweeted this stuff nowadays.
Fox can back up at first base and give the Orioles an extra catcher if manager Buck Showalter makes Matt Wieters stand in the corner again. (See what I did there?) Fox isn’t on the 40-man roster, so the Orioles will have to create room.
Update: Fox has joined the team in Minnesota, so he wasn’t kidding. Fox was batting .274 with 19 doubles, 12 homers, 57 RBIs and an .841 OPS in 67 games with Norfolk. He went 9-for-48 with two homers and four RBIs in 19 games with the Orioles.
So, did we all share the same thought last night when the Orioles carried a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning?
Did we have a hand over our eyes while we shared it?
Left-hander Michael Gonzalez struck out all four Minnesota batters he faced. His stuff is so nasty these days, his stats should appear in an adults-only section of the box score. But Showalter summoned his closer, Kevin Gregg, to get the last three outs.
Maybe it was a show of faith. Showalter wasn’t going to let Gregg’s recent struggles and meltdowns destroy his confidence in the veteran. And I’ll stress that it’s been recent. Gregg didn’t allow a run in five straight appearances and eight of nine before it all went bad.
Before last night, Gregg had surrendered seven earned runs (eight total) and nine hits in his last four appearances covering only two innings. He faced six batters without recording an out. He faced five batters without recording an out. It was ugly.
That didn’t stop Showalter from using him again last night. And Gregg rewarded his confidence - or stubbornness - with a 1-2-3 inning.
Two of the outs were loud. Rene Tosoni lined to right and Trevor Plouffe lined to left-center. But they counted just the same as the weak ground ball to second base.
Gregg has 18 saves this season to go with an 0-2 record and 4.50 ERA. He’s allowed 78 baserunners in 48 innings.
Asked whether he might change closers, Showalter told reporters that Gregg is his “option.” He noted that Jim Johnson’s eventual move to the rotation reduces the candidates to ... well ... Gregg.
So what about Gonzalez?
It’s hard to believe that Gonzalez would enter this discussion, but he’s been lights out. He struck out all four batters he faced last night, pumping 94-96 mph fastballs and finishing off hitters with a wicked slider. He replaced Chris Jakubauskas with two outs in the seventh and runners on second and third, and he fanned Jason Kubel with a 96 mph heater to keep the 4-1 lead intact.
Gonzalez hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances, 16 of 17 and 21 of 23. He’s recorded 11 strikeouts in his last six games covering six innings. His ERA’s down to 4.57.
The Orioles signed him to a two-year, $12 million deal with the idea that he’d be their closer, but he couldn’t hold leads or the job. He’s finishing strong again, just as he did last summer, and it’s not outrageous to consider him for ninth inning duty.
My guess is Showalter sticks with the current arrangement, at least for now. Gregg got the job done last night. If he’s available to pitch, he’ll take the ball in the next save situation.
If Gonzalez has cleared waivers, the Orioles could try to move him to a contender while his value is rising. But what would they get in return at this stage of the season?
Minor league note: Orlando Gomez passed Bien Figueroa last night for most victories by a Single-A Frederick manager. Gomez’s record improved to 148-118 in two seasons after last night’s 2-0 victory over Kinston.
Shameless plug alert: I’ll be appearing on “O’s Xtra” with Amber Theoharis at 7:30 p.m. on MASN2. First a baby, now me. Has any woman been more blessed.