The Orioles rode another roller coaster of emotions yesterday. No height requirement. And keeping your hands inside at all times was purely optional.
Manager Buck Showalter was saddened to learn that catcher Taylor Teagarden had been designated for assignment. Definitely not his call. Then, his team fell behind 3-0 and starter Wei-Yin Chen made another early exit. Nobody called for that scenario.
The Orioles erupted for seven runs in the top of the seventh inning, beat the Yankees and reclaimed third place in the American League East. They trail the Rays by three games for the second wild card spot.
It made for a much happier flight to Cleveland - if such a thing exists.
Teagarden barely played and had a .167/.180/.300 line this season. He dealt with back and thumb injuries over the past two seasons. But he was Showalter’s guy, and the skipper looked like he needed a hug yesterday.
“I’ve known him for a long time, obviously,” Showalter said. “I was there (in Texas) when he was drafted. We were sparring with (Scott) Boras about what he would sign for.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, especially the timing of it. But I can’t say everything always feels good. I’m sure there were some good reasons.”
One of those reasons involved the opt-out clause in catcher Chris Snyder’s contract at Triple-A Norfolk, and the Orioles’ desire to keep him in the organization. Showalter would have been fine carrying four catchers on the expanded roster, but the club went in another direction.
Snyder is “pretty much like Tea,” Showalter said. They do have a similar skill set.
“He’s a good receiver, a good caller of the game,” Showalter said.” He’s an experienced guy. You need to be three or four deep. Right now, it’s about helping us win games. It’s not about looking around for next year. Who knows what the future holds where Tea is concerned and where Snyder’s concerned and where (Steve) Clevenger’s concerned?
“Looking forward to, hopefully, being able to give Matt (Wieters) a blow here and there.”
Wieters went 1-for-4 with an RBI single yesterday that ended the Orioles’ 18-inning scoring drought and opened the floodgates to seven runs in the seventh. However, he’s collected only 16 hits in his last 104 at-bats since July 25, which comes out to a .154 average.
The Orioles are carrying three catchers, including Clevenger, the Mount St. Joseph product who grew up in Pigtown. He should have his own cheering section when the team returns to Camden Yards on Thursday.
Asked for a quick scouting report on Clevenger, Showalter replied, “Left-hander hitter. Has a good track record in the minor leagues as a hitter and can play some positions other than catch. They say he’s been OK at catching.”
Doesn’t sound like your stereotypical catch-and-throw backup catcher, and that’s fine with me. No rule against the backup being able to hit his weight, right?
Clevenger used to play shortstop, but he won’t back up J.J. Hardy. Those days are gone.
Michael Morse came up as a shortstop, but he hasn’t played the position since 2007. Hard for me to picture him doing it.
A few eyebrows were raised in the press box when Norfolk announced that they were receiving catcher Brian Ward from Double-A Bowie. Nothing against Ward, of course, but a few of us heard Caleb Joseph would get that promotion.
Turns out, the Orioles wanted to give Joseph a chance to reach 100 RBIs before moving him up. He has 97 to go with a .301 average and 22 homers.
Talk about a guy whose stock has gone through the roof since last year. The Orioles may need to protect him in the Rule 5 draft.
“Caleb’s having some kind of year,” Showalter said. “He’s got a chance to drive in 100 runs, hit .300. That’s unheard of in the minor leagues anymore because usually guys don’t stay there that long. He’s made himself into... He’s on the screen. I know Brady (Anderson) loves him.”
As for additional players joining the Orioles, infielder Ryan Flaherty will meet the team in Cleveland on Tuesday. What about another pitcher?
“Potentially, potentially,” Showalter said. “It depends if there’s a need. We’ve got eight guys down there now and we’re in pretty good shape, especially with Scott (Feldman) going so deep. If we don’t need it and we don’t think it can impact us, help us win a game, which is the priority, then we’ll probably leave it alone for a little while.”
A Japanese reporter asked Showalter about Tsuyoshi Wada, who’s allowed one run or fewer in five of his last six starts and threw six scoreless innings on Saturday. Showalter jokingly asked the reporter whether it would make his life easier if the Orioles recalled Wada or sent him to Sarasota.
The reporter smiled and chose a major league assignment.
The Orioles are still discussing what to do with Wada, who still hasn’t pitched for them after undergoing ligament-reconstructive surgery in 2012, but it will be a huge shock if he isn’t part of the expanded roster later this month.
“He’s come on little by little,” Showalter said. “That’s kind of par for the course with that surgery, that you’re going to have some struggles early on. He’s gotten a lot more confident with his fastball. You don’t feel real confident about throwing the ball in the zone for a while with a little different elbow, so I think he’s gotten over that now.
“We’ll see what September brings where he’s concerned. He has a chance. Our Triple-A manager likes him a lot. He’d like for him to stay there. If he can help us, or if we want part of the evaluation thing, we’ll bring him, but that’s yet to be determined.”
Steve Johnson tied his career high last night with 10 strikeouts in Norfolk’s 3-2 win over Durham.
The Tides lead Rochester by one game in the wild card standings with one to play. If they finish tied, the Red Wings would make the playoffs because they won the season series.
Johnson allowed one run and two hits in 6 1/3 innings to pick up his first win with Norfolk since May 6. Six of his 10 strikeouts were looking. It was the sixth time that he’s fanned 10 batters in his minor league career, the most recent occurrence on July 20, 2010 with Bowie.
The Orioles have won the last nine games when Adam Jones has homered. Just saying...