The Orioles have lost their last six games decided by one run at home since a 3-2 victory over the Angels on July 23.
Manager Buck Showalter delivered heavy praise to starter Alfredo Simon, who allowed three runs and four hits over seven innings.
“He was really good. He was really good,” Showalter said. “I loved the way he was engaged the whole night. Loved the way he came back after the two-run homer. They pitched just a tad better than we did. (Freddy) Garcia, we talk about exactly what he’s going to do and he’s able to go out there and do it. That’s the mark of a good pitcher. I thought Simon actually pitched a little better than he did in Minnesota, considering the competition. I was really pleased with Alfredo tonight. He competed and got after it and made a lot of quality pitches.
“To follow up his last outing with this one...I just wish he could have gotten a W out of it. He deserved it. But I was proud of him tonight.”
Simon threw 114 pitches for the second consecutive start.
“He had an extra days’ rest here, too,” Showalter said. “He was fighting me about wanting to stay in the game. Obviously, Gonzo (Michael Gonzalez) had four days’ off and was pretty strong and able to give us two innings tonight. I’ve seen guys unimpressive at 80. The whole pitch count thing, I’ve got it, but I don’t become a prisoner to it.”
The Orioles aren’t convinced yet that Simon should be in the rotation in 2012, but he’s making a pretty strong case for being a starter.
“He’s doing some things tonight and last time out and at times to help his cause, but we’ll see when the smoke clears what our options are,” Showalter said. “He’s presenting himself as one.”
J.J. Hardy belted his 26th home run tonight to tie his career high.
“I think defensively he impacts our team every night. He’s an intelligent baseball player. He’s a sharp guy,” Showalter said.
“J.J.’s hit very few snags offensively, but the most impressive thing is, you look at his year and the time he’s missed, and it makes it even more impressive.”
So the Orioles settle for a series split and wait for the Blue Jays to show up tomorrow.
“Nobody’s happy with a split,” Showalter said. “They were wanting to win all four and they competed well to do it. But that’s a good baseball team, playing a real meaningful game. And you can see how close it is, those small things. I believe Garcia had 59 pitches last time out, so I knew he wasn’t going to... You have those types of bullets out of the bullpen, you can do those things.
“It’s close, but I don’t think anybody’s satisfied in there, and neither am I. But you realize that you get good starting pitching, it’s not nearly the chasm that some people perceive it as.”