With a bunch of their regulars planted on the bench tonight, the Orioles ended a six-game losing streak with a 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
So, same lineup tomorrow night?
“Ah, no,” said manager Buck Showalter.
Not even tempted?
So much for that idea.
“We’ve got some other things we need to accomplish,” he said.
The Orioles did accomplish something important tonight, guaranteeing their second straight winning season for the first time since 1996-97.
Is Showalter able to sift through the disappointment of not making the playoffs and appreciate the achievement.
“Yes, I can,” he said. “Believe me, nobody knows more than I do how these fellas feel about it. These guys and our fans. We’re disappointed, but I told you many times that one of the most impressive things in team sports to me is people who can consistently be competitive and win. It’s hard, hard to do, because I keep telling you how good the competition is. Good baseball people and good players.
“We want to be a part of putting something out there that our fans can be proud of and trust and look forward to competitive baseball. Now, at some point we want to graduate. We talk about pitchers being in the process. Sometimes, you have to understand where you are in the process.”
Jonathan Schoop put a smile on Showalter’s face tonight, collecting a single, home run and walk in his major league debut. He’s only the second Oriole to hit a home run in his first big league game, joining Larry Haney, who did it on July 27, 1966 against the Indians.
“As I get older, I can take in a moment,” Showalter said. “I just kind of sit there and watch him. You can realize there’s a lot of emotions there for him. Probably some people in his family back in Curacao. He played well, turned a good double play. Didn’t look particularly nervous. I was for him. He had a good pace to his game.
“I think playing for his country in the WBC was big for him. I know (Ron Johnson) was talking about that, and Brian Graham. Said it was a little different guy that came back.”
The offense broke loose tonight with nine runs and 13 hits.
“We all know that it’s there,” Showalter said. “They dropped in a couple flares there and I was kind of like, ‘Really?’ And then we had a couple, and we caught one of theirs, which was a great play, by the way.
“You get too much of a track record of good hitters to think that it wasn’t going to happen again, but tomorrow’s another challenge. We’ve got a guy (Mark Buehrle) that’s pitched 200 innings again pitching tomorrow, and has a lot of pride.”
Bud Norris was removed after four innings and 96 pitches.
“I tell you, we’ve got to lead the league in foul balls,” Showalter said. “Just some counts he couldn’t quite finish off. He had some situations that... He hasn’t been out there consistently in a while. I’ll give him a mulligan. But he feels real good physically, so that’s good to see. He was really wanting to stay in the ballgame, but 95-ish in four innings is plenty of stress on an arm and an elbow.”
Jason Hammel earned his fourth career save after allowing one run in 2 1/3 innings.
“Ham, that was big for the club tonight,” Showalter said. “I had about four guys I wasn’t going to pitch and that was pretty impressive. It was not beneath him and I respect that. I’m real proud of his team effort tonight, so to speak. That’s something we needed.”
Ryan Flaherty became the eighth Oriole to reach double digits in home runs this season, tying them for second in the American League behind the Indians. The Red Sox, Tigers and Mariners also had eight before tonight.