BOSTON - Manager Buck Showalter described tonight’s 8-6, 10-inning victory over the Red Sox as “one of our better wins of the year.”
“That was a real test for us a little bit,” he said.
It became more challenging when closer Jim Johnson blew his first save of the season.
“J.J.’s picked us up so many times this year and the guys come in and picked him up. That was nice,” Showalter said.
Darren O’Day was warming in the bullpen, but Showalter allowed Johnson to pitch the 10th and pick up the win.
“Oh sure, you think about it,” Showalter said. “It’s not just one of those things you just... I’ll tell you what, we would have had a full-fledged fist fight. You would have had something to talk about if I had gone down there and tried. No, Darren was coming in if the score stayed tied, but he’s a little bigger than me. I’d give him what I’ve got.
“No, we like him on the mound in that opportunity. I feel good that we finally picked him up. He’s been such a war horse for us.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied the game with a two-out, two-strike, two-run homer off Johnson in the ninth. Umpires reviewed it and decided that a fan didn’t interfere with the ball.
“I was probably 55-45 that it probably was a home run and I appreciate them looking at it,” Showalter said. “It’s a little different here because of the red line or whatever color it is when it’s actually a home run. I can’t say much about it because Janet Marie Smith, who did our ballpark helped design that, so I’m not going to say anything about the design, especially at Fenway.”
The Orioles scored twice in the top of the 10th and Johnson nailed down the win.
“I figured we were going to play 17 or 18 innings,” Showalter said. “That’s why I didn’t play Chris Davis tonight. Make sure he was well-rested.”
Davis wasn’t needed in relief. The game didn’t get that crazy, though it’s been known to happen.
“It was a really good win for us,” Showalter said. “We’ve had a lot of good ones. This environment and the chance to roll over a couple times, it doesn’t surprise me at all. It was good to see.”
Contributors came from all over the lineup, including the bottom, where Endy Chavez collected three hits and drove in a run in the 10th. Steve Pearce drove in his first two American League runs and laid down a big sacrifice bunt in the 10th after Mark Reynolds walked. Reynolds reached on a bunt single in the sixth. Ronny Paulino drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th.
“Endy very quietly has been getting there and I’ll tell you, when he gets hot, he’s going to make somebody pay,” Showalter said. “He’s just got too good of a track record. You can tell his tempo at the plate, and he’s seeing the ball late. We’re going to need him and that’s good to see.
“Ronny obviously had a big hit there. And you go back through that game, the bunt by Mark was a big play in the game, and we got a great sac bunt down by Pearce, which was impressive.”
How important was it for the Orioles to win this game?
“I don’t think it’s omni-important, but it’s a product of work, that the more you build in those situations, the more comfortable you feel handling it as the season progresses with two-thirds of the season left. It’s never a bad thing,” Showalter said.
“There was an ebb and flow there. I think it’s a given that Boston’s going to be very competitive in this division, and everybody in our division has some injuries that we’re playing to play through, except for one or two teams.”
Jason Hammel went five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) and five hits, walking three and striking out seven.
“He just had some deep counts,” Showalter said. “If the game had stayed tied, I would have let him go back out and start the next inning. He was working on five days’ rest and the potential for another one. It’s a tribute to their hitters because he wouldn’t let him put them away as often. Boston’s been playing real well, so we’re fortunate.”