Schedule continues to challenge Orioles

ARLINGTON, Texas - Orioles manager Buck Showalter has instructed his players to stay away from Camden Yards today until 4 p.m. No early report times unless they're receiving treatment for an injury.

"If anybody walks into that locker room before 4 o'clock," he said, "there will be a problem."

Showalter wants his players rested after they were forced to play a night game in Arlington while tonight's opponent, the Athletics, had a day game in the Bronx.

Yeah, Showalter is just thrilled with the 2014 schedule.

"They're going to go to bed probably 8 or 9 o'clock (in the morning) and they're going to feel like they've got to come in because everybody else is. It gives us plenty of time to hit in the cages and go over the advanced report," he said.

"What does Oakland beat us there, by 12 or 13 hours? It happens all the time. That's about the 12th time this year. Not that I'm counting.

"We talk about the integrity of the schedule. Every team's got a story. We've got a lot of them, as you all know. I said it a million times, if we can get through the Texas trip, we've got a chance.

"I thought in Houston and Milwaukee we caught a little second wind, but we're beat up a little bit. You start looking for signs of it. Unfortunately, it takes you a couple days when you get back. We need some friendly faces. That always picks everybody up. I think everybody's looking forward to the support that we've had."

Twenty of the Orioles' next 26 games are at home, which would be better news if they weren't 11-12 at Camden Yards. But at least they can settle into some sort of a routine.

"We haven't been able to get into a routine all year," Showalter said. "It's probably the most challenging early schedule I've ever seen. But at the end of the day, we'll play 81 home and away."

We counted 17 different starting times for Orioles games this season, though we're splitting hairs with a few: 3:05 p.m., 1:08 p.m., 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m., 1:35 p.m., 12:35 p.m., 11:05 a.m., 7:07 p.m., 7:10 p.m., 1:10 p.m., 6:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 4:05 p.m., 8:05 p.m., 6:05 p.m. and 1:20 p.m.

Wei-Yin Chen's first pitch tonight is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. He's allowed one earned run in 20 2/3 innings in three career starts against the A's, and he's permitted one earned run in 12 2/3 innings against them at home.

No wonder Showalter wanted to tweak his rotation following the off day.

Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone is 1-1 in two career starts against the Orioles despite allowing only one earned run in 13 innings. He also was tagged with two unearned.

Manny Machado is 3-for-5 with a double off Milone, who's never pitched at Camden Yards. Chris Davis is 1-for-5 with a home run. Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy are 2-for-6, and Nelson Cruz is 3-for-13 with a home run.

If Showalter breaks out his right-handed lineup, keep in mind that Delmon Young is 1-for-9 against Milone. Could be a chance for Steve Pearce to start. Also keep in mind that Milone has backward splits. Left-handers are batting .289 against him this season and .279 in his career, while right-handers are batting .229 this year and .262 in his career.

The Orioles began last night leading the American League with a .268 average. They've scored 29 runs in the last four games. But it's not as though every hitter is locked in at the moment.

"I don't think Chris is where he ... I can name four guys," Showalter said.

"I know J.J. would say some things, even though he's hitting .300, Manny isn't where he can be, we all know David (Lough) and Caleb (Joseph) have a pretty good track record of hitting. So, I look at it that our best baseball is hopefully to come."

Machado is hitting .238, but he's been making more solid contact and having better at-bats of late.

"The game's not always fair," Showalter said.

Want further proof? The Orioles may be forced into another roster move today. They could recall Kevin Gausman instead of putting him on the taxi squad and start him Saturday if he's not needed in relief tonight. Miguel Gonzalez could be placed on the disabled list to make room for him.

As Showalter says, we'll see.

Adam Loewen, the fourth-overall pick by the Orioles in the 2002 First-Year Player draft, made his first start last night for Double-A Reading after making two starts in the Florida State League. He tossed five shutout innings at Harrisburg

I thought Loewen gave up pitching years ago? I'm so far out of the loop.

Speaking of the draft, the Orioles have the 90th pick and MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski will keep you posted.

"We're sticking Nelson's face up on the board every time there's a pick in our slot made," Showalter said. "It's weird in a way. It actually gives you a chance to take some real chances, some fliers. We'll get some good players."

I'm flying back home this morning, with a stop in New Orleans. Assuming I don't accidentally wander over to Bourbon St., I will go directly from BWI to Camden Yards after being wedged in a middle seat on both flights.

Don't ask.

My mood should be peachy.

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