The Orioles are discussing whether to bring up a reliever for Saturday night after Kevin Gausman worked 4 1/3 innings in relief. They don’t really have a long man, since T.J. McFarland started tonight.
Manager Buck Showalter prefers having a right-hander backing up a left-handed starter, and Zach Britton takes the mound Saturday night.
Tommy Hunter pitched the last two innings for the Orioles and recorded his second career save in a 4-3 victory over the Yankees. Jim Johnson told Showalter that he was available despite pitching in three of the last four games, but he wasn’t going to be used again.
“We hope to get J.J. back tomorrow,” Showalter said. “I think he’ll be fine tomorrow. He wanted to pitch tonight, he came in and told me. I just, I think he’s leading the league in appearances, he pitched three out of four days, threw 60-something pitches in three days. I just wanted to give him one more day. He feels good and I want to keep him that way.
“We were fortunate that Tommy had three days off before tonight. But as far as going and getting a pitcher, we’re going to kind of wait and see how the smoke clears from Norfolk.”
Left-hander Brian Matusz was warming, but Hunter handled the ninth and retired Robinson Cano on a bouncer to third baseman Manny Machado to end the game.
“Seeing how the inning developed,” Showalter said. “When you’re looking for good matchups off Cano, there’s not one, so just kind of go by how the inning develops and make sure you’ve got the bullet ready in case it develops into something you don’t like the feel of it.
“Tommy didn’t create a problem. He continued at the same atmosphere he had before. I knew I didn’t want to pitch Jimmy today. I wanted to give him the benefit of two days in a row. I was trying to stay away from the left-handers because they’ve been pretty busy the last series.”
Gausman, who hadn’t pitched since June 19 at Norfolk, earned his first major league win in his first relief outing.
“Sometimes, when you put young pitchers in a come-to-the-rescue mode, where there’s a little different culture that they come into in a game, I think he’s going to be a guy where it doesn’t matter,” Showalter said. “But whether it’s Mac or it’s him, when you’re trying to manage and develop young pitchers, experience tells you that you try to create a situation where they’ve got nothing to lose. And I think he really came in there letting it rip. The Friday night pitchers for LSU, they sometimes take a week off before they pitch again, so it was kind of up his alley.”
McFarland was charged with three runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings in his first major league start.
“Mac, I think they hit two balls hard off him,” Showalter said. “A lot of ground balls. One of my pet peeves is taking a pitcher out of the game after he gives up a duck flare. I thought it was a good spot for Gaus, and with Sabathia on the mound, I didn’t want that game to get away from us.”
One of the key plays of the game occurred in the sixth inning, when Machado tagged up with one out and took third base on J.J. Hardy’s fly ball to center fielder Brett Gardner. Machado scored the tying run on Adam Jones’ infield hit.
“It’s a 90-foot gain that puts some pressure on a lot of people,” Showalter said. “(CC) Sabathia is an athletic guy for a big guy. We got a couple swinging bunts there that worked out our way. But every one of those guys have had line drives at people. It makes up for a flare here and there on Mac. I’ll take it.
“Manny had a really good at-bat, hit a changeup into right-center. He had that one opportunity to make Sabathia grind there and you want to take advantage because you know you’re not going to get many of them, especially when you’ve got (Mariano) Rivera down there at the end.”
Machado gambled on the play, since he already was in scoring position and you never want to make the last out at third base.
“If you always become a prisoner to the book... I tell guys all the time, if you feel something, you’ve got a good feel, go for it,” Showalter said. “I got the other part of it after it’s over, but I’m going to be upset if you feel something and don’t go for it. That’s the type of intelligent recklessness you have to have. If you’re going to sit around here, and especially against a team as good as the Yankees and just be sterile and generic... It’s like waiting around for four singles off Rivera. It ain’t going to happen. You better do something before he gets out there. So, I told the guys, the only time I get upset is when you guys get passive and don’t trust your abilities. You see something, go for it.
“You do your homework on how is he catching the ball, is he moving back, is he moving toward the target, who’s on deck, what situation do I create if I go to second and leave first base open? The problem at second base is you’ve got to think for yourself because you don’t have a first base coach or a third base coach. But there are a lot of good things that happen.”
Nate McLouth homered off Sabathia in the seventh to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead and bring back reminders of his fly ball off the beefy left-hander in Game 5 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium that was ruled foul.
Did Showalter have a flashback?
“No, I was trying to get to the phone to make sure Tommy could get ready in time,” he replied. “But I’ll get that a little later. Didn’t nick the pole, did it?”
Brian Roberts is still scheduled to arrive in Baltimore on Saturday and be activated from the disabled list on Sunday. He came out of tonight’s game at Triple-A Norfolk after five innings because of the wet conditions. Showalter checked to make sure there wasn’t a physical reason.