Manager Buck Showalter almost kept Matt Wieters on the bench today before giving him another start behind the plate.
Wieters could have rested for two straight days with an open date on the schedule tomorrow. And the Orioles could have lost today instead of rallying for a 2-1 victory on Wieters’ two-run shot off left-hander Sean Burnett.
Wieters was batting .400 against left-handers and .199 against right-handers. He singled off Nationals southpaw Ross Detwiler in the fourth inning and deposited a pitch from Burnett into the Orioles’ bullpen in the eighth.
“When I got here, it was the other way around,” Showalter said. “People were turning him around to bat right-handed. It was a point of emphasis in the spring, every time there was a left-handed starter, and we brought a left-handed BP guy down there. One of the great skills to me in sports is the ability to switch-hit in sports. I still marvel at guys who can do it. It would be like you writing with two different hands. It’s hard.
“Usually, the right-handed side is a little tougher because you don’t see as many at-bats over there. But believe me, Matt got it back to where he was pretty even. To scratch out a couple runs off that bullpen was a challenge.”
Only two of Wieters’ 10 homers have come against lefties. This one was huge.
“It was a culmination of a lot of good things and getting rewarded for it,” Showalter said. “I think all our guys knew the margin of error was going to be close the whole series. To be able to beat them today was a real tribute to our guys.
“You can see why they’re one of the best teams in the National League. They’ve got great starting pitching and a solid bullpen, and of course Davey (Johnson) does a great job. And they spent their money well with what they’ve done, and they’ve done a great job with scouting and doing things right. It’s a young team that’s only going to get better, and they’re going to get a couple of their people back here. I’m glad they’re somebody else’s problem. But we’ve got C.J. Wilson and (Jared) Weaver coming up, so that’s part of it. That’s why it’s the major leagues, and it’s the best pitchers and players in the world. And if you can’t meet that challenge. ...
“There was a good vibe in our dugout today. You could tell how much this game meant to them, and it was frustrating for them because we were so close a few times. It’s setting the table, like in pool, and you just can’t make the shot sometimes.”
Jake Arrieta gave the Orioles a shot at winning by holding the Nats to one run in six innings.
“He had better command of his fastball,” Showalter said. “I thought he threw the ball away from his arm side, to that side of the plate better. And you saw the velocity. He was pretty crisp. He had an extra days’ rest. I felt like we could let him go there in the sixth. And we had a full bullpen again.”
Troy Patton retired all five batters he faced and struck out three.
“Troy Patton very quietly has really started to get my attention as somebody that’s developed into a guy who can help us,” Showalter said. “He ain’t scared. Troy says, ‘Here’s mine. Let’s see what yours is and see how it works out.’ He’s starting to really trust himself.
“If you look at the history with his arm, when we got him in the trade, Andy (MacPhail) knew there was going to be some rehab, and now he’s about a year and a half, two years removed from a pretty serious (labrum) surgery that’s different from a lot of other ones. I’m really happy for Troy and his family.”
The Orioles went 1-for-16 with RISP in the series and are 1-for-33 in their last seven games. (Yes, I messed that up earlier.) However, the Nats went 2-for-17.
Maybe it’s contagious.
Matt Lindstrom allowed one hit, struck out one and threw 15 pitches in the sixth inning at Double-A Bowie. He could be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday.
The Orioles promoted closer Greg Burke from Bowie to Triple-A Norfolk and put Tides catcher Chris Robinson on the disabled list with a lower back strain.
Jonathan Schoop has homered twice today in Bowie, giving him six for the season.