The Orioles’ designated long man in the bullpen, left-hander T.J. McFarland, worked three-plus innings today in a 5-2 loss to the Astros before a sellout crowd at Camden Yards. The club will discuss bringing up another reliever for Monday night’s series opener against the Tigers.
“We’ll see. We’ll talk about it,” said manager Buck Showalter. “We’d like to make sure we have some length there. Detroit’s primarily right-handed.”
Going by matchups, Showalter would prefer a right-handed long man. Kevin Gausman started last night for Triple-A Norfolk and isn’t a consideration. Evan Meek worked two innings today. Josh Stinson has been down for the minimum 10 days, but he’s no longer on the 40-man roster.
Steve Johnson hasn’t pitched since Thursday, which would make him an option if the Orioles choose to adjust their bullpen.
McFarland spared the bullpen excessive use, but he gave up a two-run homer to Marc Krauss in the seventh inning while the Astros were clinging to a 3-2 lead.
“T.J. gave us a blow in our bullpen like we know he’s capable of,” Showalter said. “He’d like to have the pitch back to Krauss. A different dynamic to the game. But he can’t.
“I thought Troy (Patton) was as sharp as he’s been in a long time. That was good to see. First time he’s been out there back-to-back with a short outing yesterday.”
McFarland was needed today because starter Chris Tillman lasted only five innings. Tillman gave up three runs in the first and threw 32 of his 105 pitches.
“He just never quite got in sync, but a lot of guys would have imploded there,” Showalter said. “He kept us in the ballgame and threw some zeros up after that. But it wasn’t what he’s capable of or what we’ve come to expect. Or more importantly, what Chris has come to expect.
“He just hasn’t quite gotten in sync consistently. And he will. Fortunately for us, he kept us engaged in the game at 3-2. I take that as a a positive. A lot of guys wouldn’t, and I think that’s a sign of his maturity. I know Chris is probably a little frustrated with today, all things considered.”
Houston starter Jarred Cosart frustrated the Orioles by holding them to two runs over six innings. Both runs scored on Adam Jones’ single in the third.
“Real late cutter,” Showalter said. “Tough day to see the ball. I know guys were talking that they couldn’t see the ball off (Tony) Sipp very well at all. We didn’t even see one of their best pitchers, the left-hander, so starting pitching has been solid for them. We knew that was going to be a challenge going in, but I think Jonesy got him off his curveball a little bit. He had the sharp single to left. But he pitched with his fastball, which is really two of them. He four-seamed the ball in and run it in there and then he’d cut the ball, real late life. You don’t recognize it.
“I’d say if you have a 12-man staff, I’d say eight to nine of them are throwing a cutter now. For a lot of pitchers, it’s the tiebreaker. They’re not sure if they want to throw a breaking ball or the fastball, they always go there and you better be able to defend it. It’s a tough pitch to defend because it looks like a fastball for a long period of time. When you’ve got one like him, the recognition on it is real late.”
Chris Davis went 2-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game since being activated from the disabled list.
“Chris was OK,” Showalter said. “He had a couple of hits for us. Felt good physically. I checked with him one time during the game. It was good to get his presence back in the lineup.”
The Orioles are 2-3 at home in day games and 5-9 overall. They’re 0-3 at Camden Yards on Sundays and 1-5 overall.