NEW YORK - The Orioles surrounded manager Buck Showalter on the field after tonight’s 7-1 victory became official. “Mobbed him” might be a more accurate description.
In the clubhouse, the players toasted him with champagne rather than douse him with Gatorade or deliver a shaving cream pie to his face.
“It’s kind of embarassing, quite frankly,” he said. “I don’t make any bones about it, I love baseball players, and it’s been an honor to manage this long, with so many good people - general managers and owners and people who give you an opportunity. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the focus being off it a little, but I’m very appreciative of the players. They made me feel very young tonight, even though I’m an old goat.”
Showalter is the 58th manager to reach the milestone. His first win came here in the Bronx back on Opening Day 1992.
“I’m not going to talk about the circle of life and all that stuff,” he said. “I’d be less than frank if I didn’t think about it a little. Mr. Steinbrenner gave me a great opportunity. And just like Mr. Angelos, the opportunity he’s given me in Baltimore.
“I remember all the losses, too. It’s about the players. It always has been, and it’s something I try to keep a reminder on and just try to make their path a little easier. The significance is that we won a game and we’re trying to get closer to something good for our fans in Baltimore. It’s about trying to repay their trust that they’ve had in us, the great baseball town that it is.”
Asked about the mob scene after Luis Ayala recorded the final out, Showalter said, “That’s embarrassing, but I can’t tell you it doesn’t tug at your heart a little. I’m an old fuddy-duddy. There’s not a day that goes by that something about this game doesn’t tug at my emotions. It may be somebody having a great BP and trying to lock in something, or someone getting a return for...
“You can’t play this game without emotion. It just lends to not wearing it on your sleeve, unfortunately, but I certainly have my moments. I’ll move on. We play every day, so it’s fleeting.”
Brian Matusz earned his first victory since June 6, 2011, making the night more meaningful to Showalter.
“Brian is a guy you stay with, and if he trusts himself and keeps working, it makes it easy for you to have faith in him,” Showalter said. “Brian was the key to the game tonight. He went deep, and after the (Curtis) Granderson home run, he locked right back in and came right back at them. He ran out of steam a little bit, but I was so proud of him tonight. This was a great place for him to have a good outing.
“I’ve seen Brian when he’s right and I try to keep a long memory of that. To see him command the baseball with all his pitches against a predominantly right-handed lineup, that’s impressive.”
The night included Nick Johnson’s first hit as an Oriole, making him 1-for-30 on the season.
“I think they scored the one an error that could have gone either way, but he came right back,” Showalter said. “I think our team was as happy about that as anything that happened tonight because he’s so well respected in our clubhouse, the professional that he is, and the great spring he had. Who knows, he may not make an out for a while. And he takes it well, but you know there have been some sleepless nights for him.”