The Orioles have won all three games while playing with a 24-man roster following third baseman Manny Machado’s suspension.
A win Thursday would give the Orioles their first four-game sweep of the Rangers at Camden Yards since 2004.
Manager Buck Showalter knew he’d need contributions from everyone this season, and not only with Machado off the roster. Ryan Flaherty stepped up tonight with a tie-breaking home run in the seventh and several good plays at third base.
“We talked about how we knew Matt (Wieters) was going to be out for an extended period of time, we knew Chris (Davis) was going on the DL. Manny left us. We did that,” Showalter said. “We talk about picking up the slack and Ryan was big for us tonight in a lot of ways. Has been the last couple of nights and will be again tomorrow night.
“I was talking to Manny today about Boston and everything. Want to make sure he knew what was going on. We have to take batting practice on the day game there, which is a challenge tomorrow with the weather. It’s impressive, but it doesn’t surprise me.”
Zach Britton recorded his 11th save by retiring the Rangers in order in the ninth, striking out two and throwing only 10 pitches.
“I thought the job Zach did there... I can’t tell you how hard it is to come in with that change in the environment and come in and pitch as well as he did,” Showalter said.
“I know he and Dom (Chiti) stayed out in the bullpen the whole time. Sometimes, you come in here and you get the environment of guys trying to eat a little something and you don’t know when you’re going to start again. You get in that kind of let your guard down mode, and Zach came in like... That was really impressive. That was one of the more impressive things I’ve seen, to be able to bring that intensity into a game like that.
“The whole group, I was real proud of them tonight. Got down 4-0. I thought (Brad) Brach was big again. He’s very quietly been a real solid contributor to us since he came back to us this last time.”
The Orioles drew three walks in the sixth, when they plated three runs to even the score. Chris Davis had an eight-pitch walk before J.J. Hardy’s game-tying single and later broke an 0-for-21 slump with a hit.
“I thought Chris had a great at-bat,” Showalter said. “In fact, two of those pitches were borderline balls. He’s hit so many balls it seems like the last week hard into the shift and there’s nothing you can do about it. But you guys watch him go down the line, you watch him play defense, you watch him try to stay patient at the plate because you’re trying to get it back.
“It’s hard to stay in that being selective mode when you’re trying to do some other things that you’re capable of, too, so that was impressive. It meant a lot to us in that inning.”
Hardy went 2-for-4 with the clutch RBI to raise his average to .297.
“J.J. had a big hit,” Showalter said. “Is J.J. over .300 yet? He’s solid. He’s just a constant contributor. Very quietly gotten some big hits for us.”
Showalter argued the catcher’s interference call in the third until he was red in the face, but he checked the video later and conceded that plate umpire Toby Basner was correct.
“They got it right and I was wrong, because I had gotten some information that it was a foul tip initially, and after reviewing it...,” Showalter said. “Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t make a complete jerk of myself. I would not have been that vehement if I had known what I know now. Toby got it right.
“It’s a tough play because it’s a hit-and-run and the guy has to swing the bat at a pitch that we had tried to throw there when he took off at first, but the catcher has to cheat a little bit to throw him out at second, so you can’t penalize the hitter for him stopping his ability to swing the bat normally and you can’t penalize the catcher for trying to get a ball and throw him out. So that’s one of those rules that it’s not completely fair, but you understand why it’s there.”
It’s a call that can’t be challenged.
“No, and I think that’s another one of those I think will be in the future,” Showalter said. “It should be. We have the technology to do it and it takes, well, it shouldn’t take more than a minute. And they would have found out they were right.”
Chris Tillman wasn’t quite right tonight, but he was spared the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.
“We were fortunate that he held them to four runs through that and came close to getting six innings in. But I said it many times, he kept us engaged in the game,” Showalter said. “I thought the (Adam Jones) home run to make it 4-1 gave us a little life there and kind of took it from there. To get the shutdown innings after we got back in it from Brad was big. And Darren (O’Day) did what Darren’s been doing.”