The game today was set up pretty much the way manager Buck Showalter would have taken it.
Six innings from Wei-Yin Chen - a quality start - and relievers Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson ready to take the baton and protect a 3-2 lead.
However, the bullpen gave up two runs, Johnson never pitched because it wasn’t a save situation, and the failure to come up with tack-on runs conspired to leave the Orioles with a 4-3 loss before 26,714 at Camden Yards.
“We knew we were going to have to score some more runs,” Showalter said. “Just a fine line there. Nicky (Markakis) just missed a home run by a foot or two. The swinging bunt (from Eric Hosmer) that ended up being two (bases) and a couple flares over there to left and a couple ground balls that found holes. Even Nick Markakis’ last ball, he hit it right on the button and they made a great play on it. They made a great play in left-center field to catch the ball. They were due for some things to go their way.
“We battled. We had some opportunities. The bullpen pitched well if you look at what they actually gave up.”
Hosmer got a rare bunt double as his ball rolled up the third-base line, stopping short of the bag and never veering foul.
“Usually, when the ball comes off the grass there at our park it goes foul,” Showalter said. “The only thing you can do is line it up where your body is facing the runner as opposed to behind him so you can see. But I’d say a high percentage of time that ball rolls foul, but that was another example where things just didn’t go our way.”
“The outs weren’t very productive, but we created some opportunities,” Showalter said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to their pitching staff. We knew (Felipe) Paulino was going to be a challenge. We caught a break not having a sunny day, with the shadows, but we knew there was going to be a fine margin today. Wei-Yin (Chen) matched him and gave us a chance to win.
“He gave us a great chance to win. I can’t fault him in any form or fashion. You can always pick something apart if you want to be that picky, but I’ll say again, pitching in the major leagues is hard. Sometimes we think you can will things to happen, and this happened yesterday, so it should happen again today. I was proud of him. I thought he pitched well.”
Robert Andino led off the ninth with a single against Royals closer Jonathan Broxton and was forced at second. Hardy got ahead 3-0, swung away and grounded into a force.
“He would have been looking at 3-1,” Showalter said. “J.J.’s really good in that situation. He’s a selective guy and you trust him. That was pretty easy. He would have been sitting 3-1 if you hadn’t. Just didn’t quite get the ball in through the hole. I like J.J. in that situation.”