Yesterday, I praised manager Buck Showalter’s handling of the bullpen, which continues to own the lowest ERA in the majors. Today, I’m offering the blog equivalent of a fist-bump for the adjustments he made to the rotation.
Showalter pushed back Brian Matusz’s start from Wednesday to Friday, giving the left-hander a few more days to recover after a bunted ball smacked him in the nose. Matusz felt good enough to take his scheduled turn, but Showalter had a plan.
Besides making sure that Matusz’s breathing was back to normal by the time he took the mound, Showalter also wanted Jake Arrieta - temporarily banished to the bullpen - to face the Pirates at Camden Yards. No offense to the Pirates but ... they have no offense. It seemed like a good matchup for Arrieta, who was in desperate need of a positive outing after allowing 19 earned runs and 19 hits in his last three starts covering 13 innings.
The Orioles intended for Arrieta to work out the bugs in the bullpen during side sessions and carefully chosen relief appearances. Or he could do it against the Pirates, which seemed like a more convenient arrangement with Matusz a little banged up.
Arrieta held the Pirates to one run in seven innings and recorded his first win since May 2. Matusz held the Braves to one run through five innings Friday night and came within a strike of clearing the sixth.
By pushing back Matusz until Friday, Showalter also was giving Jason Hammel an extra day, lining him up for last night’s game against the Braves. Hammel’s right knee requires daily treatment and careful monitoring, and Showalter will rest it as much as the schedule allows.
Hammel carried a no-hitter into the seventh last night and tossed his first career shutout and second complete game. He told reporters afterward that the knee began to ache in the later innings, but not enough to force him to the bench.
Hammel’s next turn falls on Thursday, when the Orioles are off. Showalter can give him an extra day again, putting him back on the mound Friday at home against the Nationals.
(Speaking of the Nationals, I understand that Bryce Harper is a wonderfully gifted young man, but the way he showed up the plate umpire yesterday - which is fast becoming his go-to move - and then blew off the media after the game were clown moves, bro.)
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported last night that the Orioles had scouts in Chicago to watch Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. It makes sense, since executive vice president Dan Duquette is always in the market for pitching and the Orioles send scouts all over the place.
It’s been a while since the Orioles looked like buyers instead of sellers. I’m not sure if Harper was born yet.
NOTES: According to Elias, since the Braves moved south in 1966, three visiting pitchers had thrown complete-game, no-hitters in Atlanta: John Montefusco in 1976, Randy Johnson (a perfect game) in 2004 and Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010. But Hammel became the first pitcher to defeat the Braves in Atlanta with a complete-game one-hitter.
More from Elias: Hammel picked up his seventh win last night. If Wei-Yin Chen earns the victory today, it will mark the first time since 1999 that the Orioles have had two pitchers with at least seven wins by June 17 (Mike Mussina with eight, Sidney Ponson with seven).
Hammel threw the 33rd one-hitter in club history.
The Orioles are tied with the Giants and Rays for most errors in the majors with 57, but they haven’t committed one in their last 43 innings dating back to the first inning of their June 12 game vs. the Pirates. Their longest errorless-innings streak this season spanned 56 from April 26-May 2.
Last night, Brian Roberts had his first three-RBI game since April 29, 2011 in Chicago. He collected two hits and has 387 career multi-hit games, tying him with Al Bumbry for seventh all-time in club history.
Roberts has hit safely in four of five games since returning from the disabled list.
Arrieta, who faces the Mets tomorrow in New York, is 3-4 with a 7.04 ERA in nine career starts against the National League.