Chris Tillman became the first Orioles pitcher to record 16 victories since Mike Mussina won 18 games in 1999, but manager Buck Showalter couldn’t heap praise on him until reporters were done grilling him about his heated exchange with Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Showalter confirmed that Girardi yelled at third base coach Bobby Dickerson, accusing him of stealing signs, after the final out was made in the bottom of the first inning.
“He was yelling at the third base coach. Somebody’s wearing black and orange, I’m not going to let that happen,” Showalter said following the Orioles’ 4-2 victory over the Yankees.
“I’ve known Bobby for a long time and, when Nicky (Markakis) came across the plate, he said (Girardi) was yelling out of the dugout at Bobby for some reason. I know Bobby Dickerson pretty well and so I knew Bobby might have something to say on his way back to the dugout. And he did.”
Showalter denied that Dickerson was stealing signs, adding, “If we were doing that, Manny (Machado) wouldn’t have bunted, right, if we had the pitches.”
Plate umpire Ed Hickox issued warnings to both dugouts.
Asked if the matter is closed, Showalter replied, “We got to play nine innings. Hey, we all do that (watch other teams for stealing signs). I think when people are at second base you, or we, constantly change our signs with them and the other clubs that you see a lot in our division. Obviously, we’re not, in our mind, it’s not happening so... But I understand how someone, a lot of people...
“When I come off the bench every night, I look at that same thing. There are a lot of little checkpoints you’ve gone through with experience over the years, so you look. It was something in our dugout our guys were wondering what in the world it was all about, because obviously (sign stealing) wasn’t happening.”
Did the incident fire up his team?
“I hope not,” Showalter said. “If we need that at this point, no. I think what fires you up is Tillman pitching as well as he did. And having a good outing against a really good pitcher in (CC) Sabathia who pitched real well, too. Impressive. He knew they needed some innings with their bullpen and he gave it to them.”
Girardi told reporters on the other side that he was simply protecting his players.
“And I respect that,” Showalter said. “Joe’s a good man.”
Asked whether he will speak privately to Girardi before Tuesday’s game, Showalter replied, “Well, if I was going to, I wouldn’t broadcast it in here. I gained a lot of respect for Joe over the last couple of years, especially when he was going through the thing with his dad last year in the playoffs. Two competitive good teams and we’re fighting for the same thing, so there’s a small margin for error. I look at those things the first 10 or 15 pitches every night. There’s certain little check points. I go around the field to see if everything’s in order before you get into the game. But Bobby’s not giving pitches.”
Showalter put on quite a show, needing Hickox to restrain him, but that wasn’t the intent.
“I don’t get into theatrics or whatever,” he said. “If I feel something, I’ll express it. Simple as that. And Joe will, too. I don’t get into the history or the protocol. I could give a you-know-what less. It strikes a chord in me and I stand accused. And so does Joe.
“We’ve got two good teams and we’re competing for something very special with 19 or 20 games left and nobody’s going to apologize here for caring about giving both of our teams the best chance to win.”
Showalter said he’s never had a manager yell at his third base coach before tonight.
“I had one yell at a catcher and a pitcher,” he said.
Prodded to elaborate, Showalter changed the subject.
“Guys, we had a great pitched game tonight,” he said. “I understand you’ve got to ask the questions and everything. I’d rather have the focus be on Chris Tillman, some of the things we did on the field. Jimmy (Johnson) pitched real well again tonight. I know how drama usually plays this time of the year. I’m just glad we’re playing games that mean this much to everybody, including our fans.”
Tillman held the Red Sox to two runs over seven innings on Aug. 29 at Fenway Park, and he dialed it up again tonight against another division foe. He seems to have developed into a pitcher to rises to the occasion.
“We hope so,” Showalter said. “I think he’s graduated in the process. I guarantee you he’s over there kicking himself about the high changeup to (Lyle) Overbay. He was working on an extra days rest. We wanted to give him a little extra blow there before what’s going to happen the rest of the season. I’m real proud of him. He’s got a good look. I could tell he was getting there because he didn’t hide from me real well after the seventh. Matty (Wieters) gave me a good little heads up, too.”
A key play in the game occurred in the fifth inning when J.J. Hardy led off with a double and took third on Michael Morse’s grounder to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, putting him in position to score on Wieters’ fly ball.
“That’s the player making a good play,” Showalter said. “It’s not something we talked about in the advance meeting. A lot of times, when the third baseman goes to the backhard there and he’s got to hurry to get the ball across the diamond, obviously the first baseman can’t come off the bag unless he wants to give up that out.
“I love the at-bats we had after that with Jonesy (Adam Jones) and Matty, both had some sacrifice flies and cashing in on... We suspected there wouldn’t be many opportunties against Sabathia.
“Nicky had a big night. Stuck his nose in there and got some big hits for us again tonight against a tough left-hander.”
The Orioles’ streak of homering in consecutive games ended at eight.
Manny Machado’s nine sacrifice bunts rank second in the American League behind Elvis Andrus’ 12.