Showalter speaks after 8-4 loss (Steve Johnson optioned)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter had calmed down considerably by the time he met with reporters following tonight’s 8-4 loss to the Mariners.

Showalter was ejected by plate umpire Larry Vanover in the bottom of the seventh inning for disputing a strike call on Nick Markakis. Asked later if he had been given an explanation, Showalter took the high road.

“Umpires are an easy target,” he said. “It’s not really fair. They’ve got a really tough job. There’s a lot of ebbs and flows to a game. That wasn’t what caused us to lose the game tonight. There’s plenty of things that can happen to offset that. Larry’s been around a long time.

“I know my player pretty well. Nick doesn’t argue unless he knows he’s right. It was one pitch. There were probably 200 or 300 pitches seen tonight, so that would be too easy to jump on. We had a lot of other things go on tonight that we’ve got to do better. We made a lot more mistakes than he did.”

Was he surprised that the ejection came so quickly, as he stood on the dugout steps?

“I’m not surprised by much of anything anymore,” he replied.

The Orioles had bigger issues, especially Scott Feldman’s second consecutive abbreviated outing. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings and was charged with five runs and seven hits, with four walks and four strikeouts.

“Just command issues,” Showalter said. “We were fortunate. They could have scored a lot more runs. He competed well. He had a chance to get out of that inning and gives up a single to right field. Otherwise, he gets out of it 2-2 in a five-inning start.

“We didn’t pitch too well after that, either. But the guys grinded their way back into the game, and we had the go-ahead run at the plate and just didn’t get over the hump.

“Scotty’s better than that. He’ll figure it out. He’s a smart, young man, very athletic. Just missing. There were a lot of borderline pitches that didn’t quite go his way. He’s facing a real hot team offensively too. He’s not the only one that had some trouble with them. We as a team had too many walks, and most of the time wouldn’t be in the game as much as we were.”

Showalter watched the rest of the game on television and marveled at the 9-4-2-3 putout to end the top of the eighth, with Markakis playing the carom perfectly on Raul Ibanez’s single off the fence and firing to Alexi Casilla, who threw home to Matt Wieters, who applied the tag and fired to first to get Ibanez attempting to go back.

“I saw it just like you all on TV,” Showalter said. “It’s not just our wall. He’s a big 90-foot increment saver. He knows it real well.

“I thought Casi made a good play. Really tough tag at the plate. Close call. That one went our favor. Could have gone the other way, so that’s what I’m talking about.”

Showalter said he’s proceeding as if Brian Roberts will remain on paternity leave Sunday.

“We’ll see,” he said. “There’s some other priorities going on in his life right now, and rightfully so.”

The Orioles may avoid making a roster move to add another reliever by putting Miguel Gonzalez in the bullpen.

“We talked about it a little bit, but Miguel’s had three days off and with the off-day, we’ll put him in the bullpen tomorrow,” Showalter said. “He hasn’t had a work day yet. I’ve only got one or two guys I’d want to stay away from tomorrow, especially with the off-day on Monday, so we should be OK.”

Update: The Orioles optioned Steve Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk after tonight’s game and will announce a corresponding roster move on Sunday.

Johnson walked two and struck out two in one inning tonight.

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