Most of the postgame focus tonight shifted to Japanese left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who has a damaged ligament in his elbow - it’s fair to speculate that it’s a tear - and could be facing surgery. We’ll know more later.
However, there were other topics for manager Buck Showalter to cover, including starter Tommy Hunter, who was a heck of a lot better tonight than he previous outing in Chicago.
What was the difference?
“Probably the curveball a little bit, somewhat. I little bit different plane changer. But not a whole lot different other than seeing him attack the strike zone a little more,” Showalter said.
“I thought we were going to be lucky to get five (innings) out of him with the pitch count. Got a breaking ball that would have been a ball, but (Eric) Thames must have been looking for it and put a good swing on it. But I was proud he got through the sixth inning with the pitch count he had going. And we got some good innings pitched out of the bullpen.
“He’s going to keep firing bullets. Here it is. It’s not ever going to be lack of aggressiveness or getting in the fight or getting in the competition. He’s not one of those guys who’s going to go back to the hotel room or his apartment and say, ‘Geez, I wish I had been a little more aggressive, a little more competitive.’ He’s always, ‘Here’s what I’ve got. What have you got? And we’ll see where it takes us.’ You look for people with that type of makeup.
“We know Tommy’s capable of better (than Chicago). Tommy’s not worried about where he’s going to be, either. There’s better there. A lot of fly ball outs tonight. Endy (Chavez) had busy night. That doesn’t surprise me about Tommy, and Tommy doesn’t change his personality. He is who he is, and I want him to do that. Takes me about five seconds to know how Tommy’s feeling when he walks through the door, and 99 percent of the time it’s the same guy, and that’s who I want him to be.”
Was it nice to see Pedro Strop get his first career save?
“Yeah, it was nice for us to see on a night we were short a guy without J.J. (Jim Johnson), and it could be more than just one night. We passed it around tonight and they did the job, I thought personally, they were most capable of doing. Their lineup’s good the whole way through. You knew it was going to be a close game.
“Henderson Alvarez was really good tonight. Broke out a cutter tonight that we hadn’t seen and it was tough to make an adjustment to it.
“We feel like we won this game late with the pitching. It’s not just the offensive part. Hopefully, it speaks well to the depth of our bullpen. I think the season will answer that question. Tommy got us deep in the game and we were able to pass the load around and put people in positions they were equipped to handle.”
So why Strop as the closer?
“We had a number of people I could have picked from. That’s the good news,” Showalter said. “Those outs in the eighth inning and seventh inning were just as big, and the outs Tommy got one through six.”
Johnson isn’t expected to be ready to pitch tomorrow.
“Last I spoke to Richie (Bancells), updating me in fourth inning, nothing’s really changed,” Showalter said. “They were waiting back on the bacterial reports so they could find the right way to attack it. I know what the doctor said about time frame at the shortest, but I think he’s talking about in his experience, but not maybe with Jim Johnson, so we’ll see where the days take us. But I think Jimmy’s in jeopardy tomorrow.”