NEW YORK - Just in case the Orioles advance to the American League Championship Series, they've made arrangements for left-hander Zach Britton and infielder Wilson Betemit to join them in New York this afternoon as potential additions to their playoff roster.
Britton and Betemit would fly with them to Detroit, though their inclusions on the ALCS roster haven't been decided. It's just easier to have them with the team now than to make flight arrangements later, with Game 1 scheduled for Saturday at Comerica Park.
Making room for Britton would be especially difficult. Which pitcher would come off the roster?
Betemit is much better from the left side and could bump Endy Chavez, who's been relegated to defensive replacement. Lew Ford would be another possibility, except he bats from the right side.
One step at a time. The Orioles have to beat the Yankees today in Game 5 of the Division Series.
Starters Miguel Gonzalez and Joe Saunders are the only pitchers who aren't available today. It's all hands on deck.
Wei-Yin Chen could pitch in relief if needed. He's also a candidate to start Game 1 of the ALCS on normal rest if the Orioles advance. So is Chris Tillman, who hasn't made a playoff appearance.
Tillman was the only pitcher left in the bullpen last night.
"It got lonely down there," said manager Buck Showalter. "He says he likes (bullpen coach) Bill Castro, but he's not much of a conversationalist."
If the Orioles reach the ALCS, Game 1 on Saturday would start at 8:07 p.m. and Game 2 on Sunday would begin at 4:07 p.m. Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore would start at 8:07 p.m. Game 5 on Thursday in Baltimore, if necessary, would start at 4:07 p.m. Game 6 on Saturday in Detroit is scheduled for 8:07 p.m., with Game 7 at 8:15 p.m.
Showalter chose Ford as his designated hitter today over Jim Thome, who's 4-for-31 with four homers and 15 strikeouts lifetime against CC Sabathia.
"They are all tough (decisions) this time of year, but it gives us some good options on the bench," he said. "Lew has done some good things for us and there's not a right or wrong this time of the year until after the game's over. Then you look back at it and say that. But it's kind of who we are and what we have been doing.
"I have a little concern with Jimmy, trying not to throw what he's gone through physically with his neck and back out the window. Trying not to overextend him some. But he's got a good at-bat in him today at some point if we need it."
The Orioles are 14-5 following an extra-inning game, including 9-2 on the road.
Nate McLouth leads all American League players with five postseason RBIs. His seven hits are one behind Derek Jeter for the league lead.
Yep, I saw that coming.
McLouth has driven in five of the Orioles' 15 postseason runs.
Showalter was trying to determine whether today's match-up is regarded as a day or night game because of the 5:07 p.m. start.
"I asked Thome, 'Do you eat breakfast or lunch?' " Showalter said. "He goes, 'Both.' A dumb question."
Showalter said he wasn't surprised by the Yankees' decision to sit Alex Rodriguez today.
"Joe (Girardi) is going to do what he thinks is best for his team," Showalter said. "He knows his people better than anybody else. It creates some good options for him on the bench. And they're going to have someone on the bench who has a real track record of success every night. They have it with (Raul) Ibanez, they had it with (Eric) Chavez, and (Jayson) Nix played well against us, too. He's been impressive. And you pick your poison. It is all poison potentially."
Showalter mentioned today that Kevin Gausman, the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of LSU, averaged 97 mph with his fastball today in the instructional league. Yes, Showalter is keeping track of everything.
The Orioles will monitor Gausman's innings next season in the same manner as Dylan Bundy this year, making sure he doesn't reach his limit before September in case they want to call him up.
Bundy struck out five batters in two innings today in the instructional league, according to Showalter.