Steve Clevenger collected three more hits last night and is batting .304.
Let me put this another way: An Orioles backup catcher is batting .304.
Another silver lining in another Orioles injury.
Jonathan Schoop was given regular playing time while Manny Machado rehabbed his left knee, accelerating his development at the major league level. Steve Pearce became the starting first baseman in Chris Davis’ absence and flourished at the plate and on the bag, solidifying his spot on the team.
Now we’ve got the Pride of Pigtown becoming the regular catcher in Matt Wieters’ absence.
Clevenger kind of reminds me of John Stefero, the Glen Burnie native who did a nice turn as local boy makes good. Except Clevenger may have more staying power than Stefero, who hit .455 in nine games during the 1983 championship season and pretty much disappeared.
I’m sure that manager Buck Showalter was most appreciative of Clevenger throwing out Ian Kinsler trying to steal second base last night in the sixth inning. Clevenger is 3-for-15 on attempted steals, Wieters is 1-for-12 and Caleb Joseph is 0-for-2.
Showalter stresses the importance of a backup catcher’s defensive skills and game-calling over his contributions at the plate, which is totally understood, but I’m glad the Orioles found a guy in Clevenger who isn’t an automatic out. It’s OK to mix in “hit” with “catch-and-throw.”
You’ve heard managers and pitchers say it doesn’t really matter how the rotation lines up after the first turn, that it’s silly to obsess over who’s a No. 1, No. 2, etc? Bud Norris started the fifth game of the season, but he’s now slotted behind opening day starter Chris Tillman.
Norris doesn’t view himself as a fifth starter and despises any and all references to it. Fair enough. He came within an out last night of turning in his third quality start, and his 3.98 ERA isn’t a whole lot different that Tillman’s 3.97.
Norris has gotten under the skin of a few hitters this season, perhaps from the seam marks running across it. Again, fair enough. No one wants a mid-90s fastball near the head or buried in their rib cage. But Norris isn’t afraid to pitch inside and that increases the chances of someone getting hit.
Here’s another thing: Norris won’t back down. The Orioles love that competitive side, that bulldog mentality. To me, it’s a good complement to a few of the quieter personalities in the rotation.
Norris has every right to pitch inside and fume after being ejected following an animated response from Hunter. And Hunter has every right to jaw at a guy who bruised his ribs.
Will there be any sort of carryover tonight? Norris won’t be on the mound, but Hunter still had a huge chip on his shoulder late last night to go with that bruise.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t there consecutive pitches thrown near Nick Markakis’ head last night? Dugouts and bullpens didn’t empty.
Markakis’ hitting streak quietly ended at 18 games.
The Orioles lost last night for only the second time this season when allowing five or fewer hits. It also happened on April 11 against the Blue Jays.
Preston Guilmet retired all four batters he faced with two strikeouts in his debut.
“Very much as described, and not only by our scouts but our Triple-A,” Showalter said. “Deceptive delivery, can defend himself against left-handed hitters because of the split. Probably don’t see him real well. Like I said beforehand, there’s not many people in these 24 pitchers tonight who have a better minor league resume than Guilmet. Just a matter if he can get an opportunity to see if he can carry it over to the next level. He’s had a very short look at this level.”
The Orioles will reveal Wednesday’s starter by noon today and I have no idea what’s happening to the rotation. I’m assuming that Wei-Yin Chen won’t make the start. Otherwise, why bother with an announcement and why bring executive vice president Dan Duquette into the discussion, as Showalter and pitching coach Dave Wallace have done.
Is Chen hurt? Is he pushed pushed back to Thursday? And if so, what happens to Miguel Gonzalez?
Fans keep trying to tie every move to Kevin Gausman. Well, he’s not making Wednesday’s start on short rest. No sense getting your hopes up.