NEW YORK - We have a 1:05 p.m. game in the Bronx today. I hope you slept fast.
I wanted to give you something to read with your morning coffee before I post the lineup. Here’s a quote yesterday from manager Buck Showalter, which came after a reporter asked whether he tends to look up or down at the standings.
In other words, is he more focused on the Yankees or the teams he’s trying to stay ahead of in the wild card race.
Showalter fired off his answer without hesitation, and he repeated it, just to make himself clear.
“Up. Up. Because the rest of that takes care of itself,” he said.
“We all know where New York’s going to be to play us. That’s a given. They’re a great club. Someone asked me a couple weeks ago about the wild card stuff and I said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, our guys are focused on trying to figure out a way to catch the Yankees and win the division.’ What other thought process should there be? It’s extremely difficult to play on their level, but we’ll see. Our curiosity is always satisfied at game time.”
For the fans and media who obsess over his club’s poor run differential, Showalter says, “The numbers that matter are in the W column. It’s hard to put a number on somebody’s heart and gut. It’s the sixth tool.
“I know when I was here, I had a sixth column. Everybody does. I’m sure Joe (Girardi) does.”
Going back to last night’s game, Showalter inserted Robert Andino at second base in the bottom of the seventh inning. I asked whether Omar Quintanilla was OK physically, and Showalter said, “Yes, he’s fine,” and walked away.
Quintanilla is in an 0-for-22 slump, but that might not have anything to do with Andino replacing him. It just seemed like a curious move, since the Orioles have largely been impressed with Quintanilla’s defense.
Let’s see whether Quintanilla is starting today or if Showalter chooses Ryan Flaherty. It figures to be one of the left-handed hitting second baseman against Yankees right-hander David Phelps.
The roster will officially expand with the additions of outfielder Xavier Avery, infielders Steve Tolleson and Wilson Betemit, and catcher Luis Exposito.
Let’s also see how Showalter utilizes Betemit, who has been replaced at the infield corners by Manny Machado and Mark Reynolds. The defense is much better with those two in the field. However, Betemit is an asset against right-handed pitching.
Betemit doesn’t figure to platoon with Chris Davis, since he’s batting .143/.223/.190 from the right side of the plate.
NOTES: The Orioles have outscored the Yankees, 38-25, in seven games in the Bronx. Their five wins here this year are their most since 1997, when they also won five. The last time they won more than five games in one season in the Bronx was 1976 (eight).
With Friday’s 6-1 win, the Orioles have held the Yankees to two runs or fewer in four games in the Bronx. According to Elias, the last time the Orioles held New York to two runs or fewer in four games or more was 2004. The last time they did it five times in a season was 1976.
Also according to Elias, Miguel Gonzalez is the first rookie starter to beat the Yankees twice in New York within a span of 33 days since the Orioles’ Tom Phoebus did it back on July 17 and August 16, 1967. Phoebus and Gonzalez are the only Orioles rookies to earn a pair of road wins over the Yankees in the same season since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954.
Randy Wolf will become the 50th Oriole to play in a game this year. According to Elias, it will be the fourth time in franchise history that the Orioles have used 50 or more players in a season. They used 50 players in 2011 and 2000 and 54 in 1955.
The Orioles were 18-9 (.667) in August (12-4 at home, 6-5 on the road), marking their most wins in any month this season. Their previous high was 15 in May. The last time they won 18 games in a month was Sept. 2004 (18).
According to Elias, which has been busy, the Orioles’ winning percentage was the best in the majors in August and marked the first time the Orioles have produced the majors’ highest winning percentage (or tied for it) in any month in which every major league team played at least 10 games since May 1997, when they were 20-8.