WASHINGTON - Manager Buck Showalter deflected a theory that his club might have shown signs of fatigue today in a 9-3 loss to the Nationals. He made more solid contact than his hitters.
The Orioles are playing a stretch of 20 consecutive games, their next off day not coming until Thursday. But Showalter isn’t pointing a finger at the schedule.
“We scored three runs and could have scored a lot more,” he said. “I think it was more that we made a lot of mistakes with our breaking ball today. We dialed it up early and had some good at-bats and looked forward to the challenge of facing a good-looking young pitcher (Stephen Strasburg).
“That would be a real easy excuse to take, but there are a bunch of teams in this league playing 20 days in a row. I think everyone’s looking forward to taking a blow on Thursday, but that’s very short-lived. It’s not something that everybody else isn’t asked to do. We’re on a level playing field with the competition.”
Wei-Yin Chen turned in his shortest outing, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing career highs in runs (six) and hits (eight).
“Got hurt with the breaking ball a lot, and anything off-speed,” Showalter said. “I don’t think he gave up a base hit today on a fastball. You pay the price. He made a lot of mistakes with his breaking ball today. That was pretty much the difference.”
So why not throw more fastballs?
“That’s pitcher-catcher,” Showalter said. “The game plan, they go over that until they’re blue in the face. Sometimes, you become a prisoner of that. There’s a feel to the game and you give them that freedom. It’s more about the command and where we threw them than the quality of them.
“If you came in today thinking you’d get their starting pitcher out of the game after five innings, you’d like your chances. But like I said on the pregame show, sometimes you have what looks like on paper a good pitching matchup and neither pitcher survives the fifth inning.
“We had some opportunities and I was proud of the way we came out of there and worked their pitcher well enough to get him out of there after the fifth inning. If we could have held it at 5-3, I thought we had a chance because of our bullpen. We tried to get another inning out of Chen that we may not have normally, but the good news is we got through it with just (Darren) O’Day and (Dana) Eveland, so we should be back on our feet tomorrow. That was one of the points of emphasis today. We had three guys who weren’t going to pitch today and we got through that.
“I think Wei-Yin was having a little trouble with the mound and he never could quite make the adjustment. A little higher it seemed like in his mind. I know he tweaked his right wrist a little bit on a swing, so we had the no-swing at-bats going after that. But it was his right wrist, not his left.”
One of Chen’s mistakes resulted in Strasburg’s first home run.
“He hung a breaking ball,” Showalter said. “That’s what most people do who are big and strong like their pitcher is. I bet you could find a few pitchers who would hit that pitch out of the ball park. He put a good swing on it and it carried out.”
The Orioles still took four of five games on this trip.
“There are some good things that happened on this trip, but now we have to turn our thoughts to Boston,” Showalter said. “They’re playing well and it looks like they won again today, so I know they’re going to be a foe.”