NEW YORK - Orioles manager Buck Showalter was clearly agitated following tonight's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. Plate umpire Gary Darling's strike zone did nothing to improve his mood.
It actually soured it.
Asked to name a key play in the ninth inning, Showalter replied, "I'd look more at the other eight innings. I don't dwell on that. There were some things we could do to make it different. The umpires' calls are umpires' calls. What are you going to do? Strike zones are strike zones. They fluctuate every night. It's unfortunate we don't have replay yet, so those things don't come into play.
"Key play? You could make the case for a lot of them. You could talk about some things you could do earlier in the game to keep certain guys from hitting again. Everybody is a challenge and a threat at the major league level. Everybody out here is hitting in the three-hole and four-hole at the minor leagues."
Yankees starter Ivan Nova tossed his first complete game and struck out 11 batters. Again, the strike zone had to irritate Showalter, who watched his starter, Miguel Gonzalez, tie a career high with five walks.
"Miguel was fortunate, but that's him," Showalter said. "He's going to bend, but not break. You give up four, I think five with an intentional, you've got to consider yourself lucky to get through that with only one run. I'm not going to use the old 'made some key pitches when he had to,' but he'll be the first to tell you there were some well-hit balls right at people.
"I thought he was fortunate tonight. He'll get better. When you have that type of command and only give up one run through six, that's part of it."
Jim Johnson blew his sixth save in 35 chances and suffered his seventh loss, as the Yankees scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.
"Just command of his fastball," Showalter said. "That was a challenge for him tonight, just as it was with Miguel, but Miguel got out of it."
Is he concerned about Johnson?
"I'm concerned about the way that we swung the bats tonight," Showalter said. "There's a lot of factors that go into it. We've got some guys who can't pitch every day and some guys can. Certain things will work themselves out. Everybody will seek their level and figure it out."
The offense needs to figure it out.
"Obviously, publicly, and rightfully so, you've got to tip your hat to the people we're seeing," Showalter said. "They're pitching real well. But certainly, we face good pitching every night. That's why they're in the big leagues. We've got to figure out a way to do a little bit better job with it."
Gonzalez has six straight quality starts, but he only threw 62 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
"It wasn't the best outing," Gonzalez said. "I battled through that inning where there was bases loaded and one out. I made pitches when I needed to. That was a tough one."
Why so many walks?
"Just a little bit amped up, trying to do a little bit too much when I didn't need to," he said. "Rushing and my arm was falling. It was late. I think it was up a little bit, and forcing it to go down. I tried to keep my team in the game."
Matt Wieters ended a 6-for-42 slump with a two-run homer off Nova in the second inning that accounted for all of the Orioles' scoring.
"It's nice to get a lead early," he said. "It's something you don't know what's going to happen in a game. You just go out there and try and do something to help your team win. We were able to get a lead and Miggy was battling out there. Miggy didn't have his best stuff, but he battled for us, but he was able to throw strikes and put the ball in play, so it was a battle all around tonight to try and get a win, but we fell short."
Wieters was 10-for-22 with four home runs against Nova after that swing.
"I try not to worry about numbers," he said. "Most of the time they're not too good. I'm trying to go out and get hits when I can."