BOSTON - The Orioles were working on short rest this morning after playing late into the night. Three of their relievers - Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day - pitched in back-to-back games. A sellout crowd at Fenway Park was whipped into the usual frenzy as the Red Sox kept applying pressure, refusing to wilt after falling behind by six runs in the third.
Convenient excuses if the Orioles lost. Not that anyone in the clubhouse was searching for one.
“The game’s a game. They say what time you show up and you’ve got to show up. A win’s a win, so you take it,” said center fielder Adam Jones, who had a single and RBI in the Orioles’ 7-6 victory.
“Excuses are what you’re looking for. We don’t make them. We show up. They say it’s an 11 o’clock game, so you show up at 11 o’clock, ready to play.
“We showed up. Once we show up here, we have a job to do. It doesn’t matter what time it is.”
Jones wasn’t going to give in as reporters tried to get a feel for the challenges that today’s game presented.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Like I said, we don’t write the schedule. We know what it is coming into it. We knew we had a quick turnaround. It is what it is, bro.
“Every single day, these guys have an opportunity to do something special and we’re going to grind it out. If I see somebody not grinding it out, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or sore. Hey, grind it out and live with the results.”
Were the last three innings nerve-wracking? Not according to Jones.
“It’s not nerve-wracking,” he said. “You know that team’s always kicking. So, it’s not nerve-wracking. You’ve just got to make your pitches and make your plays.”
Tommy Hunter got the last three outs, allowing one run and stranding two runners.
“You’re in the East, the best in baseball,” Jones said. “You’re always one pitch away, especially in a one-run game, from being tied, especially with this offense. They can tie the game up very, very quickly or make havoc for you. They grind it out. That’s the beauty of this game. That’s why we love the competition and we stuck it out. That’s all that matters to me.”
Hunter described the ninth today as “like any other inning I pitched.”
“I don’t know, another inning, another game,” he said.
“I was pretty calm. I thought I threw some pretty good pitches. Make a mistake to (Dustin) Pedroia. These guys give you a little cushion and the job’s to go in there and close them out in the ninth, and that’s kind of what happened.
“This is a lot of those same guys from ‘12. We won quite a few one-run games, quite a few extra-inning games. This is not a team to ever give up on, and especially considering the circumstances, playing last night, really late and waking up today. I’m on a pretty good team.
“It’s kind of like picking up from last night. We fell into some unfortunate circumstances last night. It just didn’t go our way. Got a chance to come back and go .500 on the first series of the road trip. That’s all you can ask for on the road. These guys did. Tip your hats to them. They played good baseball today, and we’re headed to Toronto.”
And leaving behind an emotional scene in Boston on the one-year anniversary of the Marathon bombings.
The Orioles maintained their focus while also paying their respects.
“We’re here to play baseball and that’s our job,” Hunter said. “We’re here to win baseball games. We’re here to push and strive for our goals, so if it’s not one of our goals, we’re probably not going to pay much attention to it. We’re going to try and get to the playoffs and win this thing.”
In order to do it, a team must push aside the disappointment of a blown lead and loss, which occurred last night.
“We’re not going to worry about losses,” said catcher Steve Clevenger. “The past is the past. We’re going to look ahead to the next game and take one game at a time. We’re not going to dwell on losses too much. You’re going to lose some games here and there. You’re going to lose some tough ones, but at the same time, you’ve got to come out the next time and be focused and be ready to play.”
Is it more physically or emotionally draining?
“I would say physically,” Clevenger replied. “Yesterday, we dropped a tough one. We played hard and had a couple guys make some bad mistakes and we came back today and made the plays we needed to make, and I think it’s more physically than emotionally.”
Clevenger caught a third strike from Matusz in the eighth inning and got Xander Bogaerts caught in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.
“I knew they were going to be aggressive on the bases there and we called an inside move first and kind of got him thinking,” Clevenger said. “I think Bogaerts was not so aggressive after that, but I don’t think (Daniel) Nava got the point over there at first, so they kind of ran up each other’s backs and we just run after them to get them in a rundown, basically.”
Clevenger, acquired from the Cubs last summer along with Scott Feldman, is being introduced to the intensity of the American League East - as a player, not a fan who grew up near Camden Yards.
“Definitely,” he said. “I was talking to a couple guys in the clubhouse today about yesterday’s game and then to a couple guys today about how intense the game was. It’s emotionally draining, both mentally and physically.
“It’s a different animal in the AL East than any other place. It’s good baseball and we’re going to compete every game.”
As for the pending roster move, the Orioles could recall T.J. McFarland, who’s scheduled to start Tuesday night for Triple-A Norfolk. He’s on the 40-man roster, he’s rested and he could serve as a left-hander in the bullpen while Britton and Matusz rest.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Orioles scratched McFarland from his start. We’ll see.
Update: The Orioles intend to recall McFarland, according to a source. No surprise.
McFarland has posted a 1.84 ERA in three starts over 14 2/3 innings with the Tides. He’s walked four and struck out 18.
The Orioles may wait until Tuesday to announce to roster move in order to check on shortstop J.J. Hardy’s right hamstring.
Though I don’t like to speculate, the Orioles could designate outfielder Steve Pearce for assignment to make room for McFarland, since he’s received only seven at-bats. They may be hesitant to option an infielder with Hardy’s uncertain health.
Also, I received the following tweet from @DavidADorsey:
Manny Machado went 0-for-5 with a sac fly in Fort Myers today vs. Twins in extended spring game. “I’m getting closer,” he said.
Machado is slated to play nine innings at extended spring training and serve as the designated hitter on Tuesday.