ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- The Orioles have won 11 straight extra-inning games. They’ve won 10 straight one-run games. They took four of six against the Yankees and Rays on a road trip that looked ominous on the schedule.
“This time of the year, I’m sure you all are noticed there’s a lot of well-pitched games. That’s pretty normal from my experience,” manager Buck Showalter said after today’s 1-0, 10-inning victory at Tropicana Field.
“Late July through the month of August, you’ll see some pitchers on top of their game. That’s where the fatigue really starts to set in on some of the position players and pitchers are getting four, five days off. This whole group is getting five days off between starts, so you’re going to see some well-pitched games between now and then. Our guys did a lot of things well to make a difference in a real close game.”
The Orioles have posted back-to-back shutouts after losing the opener here, 2-0.
“Somebody was telling me that’s like 21 straight shutout innings and that’s remarkable,” Showalter said. “We talk a lot about, when you go up against a guy like (David) Price or (Matt) Moore or (Jeremy) Hellickson or all their guys, you know that you’re going to have to have a well-pitched game. That’s a given going into it. Miguel (Gonzalez) matched him and made a lot of good pitches.”
Gonzalez is seizing his opportunity with the Orioles after failing to get into a spring training game with them.
“We talk a lot about those guys 27 to 32 that ply their trade and keep pitching in winter ball and keep doing things to stay on the map,” Showalter said. “One of our guys was talking about a conversation he had with Miguel in spring training where he was on the back field on the minor league side saying he can’t get any innings. And he said, ‘Hey, with this organization, if you get your opportunity, be ready.’ And he did. He took advantage of it. We’re proud of him and the people who identified that he could potentially help us.”
Jim Johnson notched his 32nd save today with a perfect ninth inning. No drama.
“Closing a one-run lead on the road in the American League East is a difficult thing to do for a closer,” Showalter said. “Jim’s done great for us this year.
“The thing is, it’ll be about from the time I go back in here to moving on to the next game. We’re in the 50s now in games to play, so every one like this you can get under your belt, you get a little closer to your goal.”
Luis Ayala stranded two runners in the ninth to keep the game scoreless.
“We’ve had some quality starts, and you’ll notice when we’re getting these, our bullpen seems a little sharper,” Showalter said. “He’s had three days off. He had a little extra life on the fastball. All the guys. You see Pete (Pedro Strop) last night where his velocity jumped, too. If we can keep getting some depth out of our starters, we’re going to be able to keep the bullpen intact.”
Taylor Teagarden made sure it didn’t go to waste today. He’s got three hits with the Orioles and two of them have produced the winning runs.
“We were talking in the dugout that we had the right man in the right place,” Showalter said. “Everybody was yelling for the ball to get down. Most of the time you’re yelling for it to get up, but we were worried about it bouncing out of the park. He had a good battling at-bat. He was a little irritated that he fouled off a pitch he thought he could do something with.
“He works hard. I thought he had some good at-bats the whole game. He almost hit a ball over (Matt) Joyce’s head. He made a great play for as shallow as he was playing. He’s got some thump. If you look back at his power numbers wherever he’s been, he’s been able to drive the ball. He did a great job with Miguel, too.”