Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia, who’s been transformed into Cuban designated hitter Henry Urrutia, is 11-for-33 since the Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk. He has three multi-hit games on his short resume.
Keep running him out there.
Speaking of running, it’s one part of Urrutia’s game that needed improvement. He certainly did a nice job going from first to third last night on shortstop Jonathan Villar’s fielding error. The ball rolled into shallow left field and he kept motoring.
“Pretty good read,” said manager Buck Showalter. “The ball’s right in front of him. He’s a good runner under way. We’ve got some good times on him for the most part down the line. We’ll see.
“Talking about unfamiliar, I’m a lot more unfamiliar with Henry than I am with Bud (Norris). We’re trying to get in as much as he can take. He’s handled himself well.”
Nate McLouth is batting .350 (7-for-20) during a five-game hitting streak. He recorded his 31st multi-hit game of the season last night and his fourth multi-RBI game. He went 71 games between multi-RBI games, the second-longest drought of his career. He went 92 games from April 3-Aug. 10, 2006.
McLouth did something Wednesday night that may have gone unnoticed in an 11-0 loss. He beat out a slow roller to the right side in the bottom of the eighth inning, hustling out of the box like players are supposed to do, no matter the score. Then, he made a sliding catch in center field in the ninth.
“I’ve got to tell you, it’s almost emotional in a lot of ways,” Showalter said. “Chris Davis had a strike three that got away from the catcher and he ran the ball out full-speed to first base. Those are the things that allow me to sleep when we have a tough game like (Wednesday) night, because our guys get it. Whether or not we win a world championship this year, I hope it happens and we’re going to give it hell trying to do it. But that’s just the way our fans want, and our players want to play the game.
“Everybody’s trying to get people to do that, but it’s not something I can make them do. It’s something they come with, and I think there’s a lot of peer pressure to play that way. Can you imagine what it’s like when, whether it was an LJ Hoes a couple of days ago or Urrutia just starting out with our organization, and they watch the way these guys play the game? And it speaks volumes. And quite frankly, it makes my job real easy because I don’t always have to be the bad guy. I can just point to one of my players and say, ‘That’s what we want.’”
Davis was in the middle of being interviewed by a pack of reporters at his locker last night when he glanced up at one of the clubhouse televisions tuned to the Red Sox game on NESN and saw the replay of Daniel Nava’s walk-off single to complete a six-run ninth inning rally against the Mariners.
“Oh my gosh,” Davis said, cutting himself off in mid-sentence. Then, he continued with the interview.
Yes, the Orioles were checking out the game in hopes of gaining ground on the Red Sox. And yes, it was important enough for Davis to express his disappointment. And he wasn’t the only one. These guys are fully aware of the standings and the significance of each game, no matter how casually they dismiss it.
Davis is one home run shy of 40, a mark that only four Orioles have reached: Brady Anderson (50) in 1996, Frank Robinson (49) in 1966, Jim Gentile (49) in 1961 and Rafael Palmeiro (43) in 1998.
I don’t have the data in front of me, but Showalter says the Orioles lead the majors in outs recorded via the infield shift. And he gives much of the credit to Manny Machado, who “allows us to do it.”
Here’s what Astros manager Bo Porter said about Machado last night:
“He’s about as good as it gets. He’s a shortstop playing third base.”
Machado had his 39th multi-hit game last night, tying him for third-most in the American League. He had been hitless in his last four games, his longest streak of the season and tying the longest of his brief career.
The Orioles are 18-9 (.667) vs. the American League West, their second-best winning percentage against the West since the leagues went to three divisions in 1994. They were 32-12 (.727) in 1997.
I asked Ryan Flaherty how he’s able to stay ready while going so long between starts. Then, before I posted his quotes, he started at first base the following game.
“I come to the field every day and I expect to be in there, but at the same time, you know your role,” he said. “Wherever I can help the team, whether it’s my versatility or whatever, I’ll do that. Just do stuff before the game to try to simulate game activity, so when they do need you, you’re ready to go.”
Flaherty knew he was headed to the bench once Brian Roberts came off the disabled list.
“Obviously, when a guy like that comes back - he’s one of the best second basemen - that can happen,” he said. “But I’m ready to go whenever they need me.”
The Orioles have 13 quality starts in their last 18 games.
Showalter was irritated by a rule that allowed the Red Sox to list their designated hitter as “TBA” last week after David Ortiz’s ejection. None of us had seen that before. Showalter believes that a team should immediately have to declare a DH, rather than being allowed to wait until the turn comes up again, at which point it can choose based on the pitching matchup and other factors.
The Orioles have made 33 errors in 109 games and are on pace to commit 49. As I’ve mentioned, the major league record is 65 by the 2003 Mariners. The Orioles lead the majors with a .992 fielding percentage, which would be the best in baseball history, topping the 2007 Rockies’ .989 mark.