The non-waiver trade deadline passed this afternoon and the Orioles played their first game as confirmed buyers, with the pending arrival of infielder Tim Beckham following Friday night’s acquisition of starter Jeremy Hellickson. No one is being flipped for prospects. The bullpen is intact. The only stripping takes place before showering.
The newbies couldn’t impact tonight’s game. Beckham isn’t on the 25-man roster and Hellickson won’t make his debut until Wednesday night. Pitcher Yefry Ramírez reports to Double-A Bowie.
Somehow, the Orioles added to their team and were a man short for the opener against the Royals. Mark Trumbo’s placement on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right ribcage put a strain on the roster.
The bullpen came into play again tonight, showing why the Orioles were hesitant to dismantle it, Ubaldo Jiménez registered another quality start and Craig Gentry singled with two outs in the ninth inning to score Caleb Joseph and give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Royals before an announced crowd of 20,663 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles have won three straight to improve to 51-54 overall and 31-21 at home. The Royals had won nine of their last 10 games to grab the second wild card.
Gentry had his first career walk-off win. Manager Buck Showalter had his 1,480th career victory to tie Earl Weaver for 24th place on the all-time list.
Joseph singled with one out, Rubén Tejada singled with two outs and Showalter let Gentry face right-hander Joakim Soria. Game over.
Jonathan Schoop tied the game 1-1 in the fifth inning with a two-out single off left-hander Danny Duffy that scored Manny Machado, who collected his second double. Schoop has 77 RBIs, five fewer than his 2016 total.
Jiménez registered his first back-to-back quality starts since Sept. 5-10, 2016. He retired eight in a row after a leadoff walk in the fourth and held the Royals to one run over seven innings. Jiménez walked two batters, struck out six and lowered his ERA to 6.56.
Mychal Givens was dominant in the eighth inning with two strikeouts and a ground ball. Zach Britton got two ground balls and a strikeout, though Melky Cabrera reached on an effort after Manny Machado’s throw went through Chris Davis’ mitt. The next batter, Eric Hosmer grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Showalter seemed happy this afternoon that the team wasn’t dismantled at the deadline, that relievers Britton and Brad Brach, among others, still had lockers in the home clubhouse.
“Sure. What am I supposed to say? Oh gosh, I’m disappointed we didn’t ... But that’s sincere,” Showalter said.
“Yeah. I think we have the people in there with some health, some additions that people may think are small but could be big. And some things that could happen tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I look more about making what we have ... We could be a little better in some areas and get in the fight a little bit more.”
There’s still considerable distance, but Showalter won’t do the math to figure how many games must be won to have a realistic chance at the postseason.
“You’re always seven to 10 days away from really being right in the thick of a lot of things that may not look that way now, but you’re also seven to 10 days away from having it look the other way, and that’s the world we live in,” Showalter said. “So if you get too far ahead of yourself and you’re playing the 17th or 18t hole and you’re on the 12th hole, you’re going to have some issues.”
Jiménez needed a mulligan in the first inning after doubles by Lorenzo Cain and Hosmer gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead. Hosmer’s two-bagger came with two outs after Cain swiped third base. Jiménez threw 18 pitches.
Mike Moustakas led off the second with a single and was erased on an inning-ending double play. Alex Gordon opened the third with a double and moved to third base with one out, but Jiménez retired the next two batters on a pop up and ground ball to keep the deficit at one run.
Hosmer led off the fourth with a walk and Jiménez retired the next three batters, including a strikeout of Moustakas. Jiménez struck out the side in the fifth on 12 pitches.
Jiménez stranded another runner in the sixth and a double play ended the seventh after Brandon Moss walked with one out. Davis leaped to catch Schoop’s throw and made the tag.
Machado doubled with one out in the first and ran the Orioles out of the inning by trying to take third base on a ball that scooted past catcher Salvador Perez. Machado slid short and appeared to avoid the tag, but the Orioles didn’t challenge.
The Orioles loaded the bases in the second on two singles and a walk, but Gentry popped up on the first pitch thrown to him.
With a left-hander on the mound and Trumbo on the disabled list, the lineup was adjusted to put Joseph sixth, Joey Rickard seventh, Tejada eighth and Gentry ninth.
Schoop reached on an infield single with two outs in the third, but Trey Mancini struck out. Another runner stranded, raising the total to four in three innings. Rickard singled with two outs in the fourth, but Tejada popped up. Machado doubled with two outs in the fifth and Schoop delivered.
Can’t waste every opportunity.
Can’t waste a chance to win on a night that the Orioles were proven to be buyers.
Showalter on Jiménez: “Ubaldo was good. That first inning. You think about how hot this team has been coming into the game, makes it doubly impressive. Zach had thrown like 13 pitches in (two) days. He felt good today. We were talking in the outfield about how much ... It’s really like trying to find your arm slot a little bit. We’ll see. He may be available tomorrow.”
On Jiménez stepping up as other starters need to do: “Very quietly, they have been. If you take it with Chris (Tillman) cramping up and having an issue there. It’s been a pretty good stretch and it’s allowed us to win some games. Ubaldo is a good example. Wade (Miley) gave us a good chance. Of course, Gaus (Kevin Gausman) pitched well. Chris before that one had pitched a couple good games in a row. It’s good because you’re going to be playing a lot of teams that are going to be giving you their best shot because of the dwindling of games. There’s a real sense of urgency.”
On whether urgency has other starters looking over their shoulders since Hellickson’s arrival: “No. You could ask each guy and you can find somebody who lends some validity to that. I don’t know. Competition’s always a good thing. We’d like to get to four position players. Shows you how important a guy like Craig is having him on the bench. When we had him here, it was really a good flow to our bench and we’ve been missing that for a while. Not just him. Some other guys. But who knows? I know we’ve got some people I’d like to continue to kind of back off of when we can, but carrying six starters and carrying 13 pitchers subtracts from something else you can do well.”
On whether he thought Royals would bring in lefty if Seth Smith pinch-hit for Gentry: “They will. No, they will. (Scott) Alexander’s one of their best pitchers. He’s having a great year. We were talking about him in the advance meeting today. He’s one of the few pitchers that pitches like Zach. He’s like 96 percent hard sinker. You want to keep him out of the game.
“Soria’s having a good year, too. He’s back. And if we had been behind in that game we probably would have run for Caleb. You can say pinch-hit, but then you’ve always got to think about the counter part of it. You do that, but you get their best pitcher in the ballgame. What are you going to do, pinch-hit again with (Johnny) Giavotella probably? We like Craig in that situation. We like all of our guys. Soria is good. Their whole bullpen has been pitching well. Let’s face it, we scratched out two runs.
“Jonathan had another big two-out base hit. Very quietly he’s second in the league in RBIs and trying to close on the other guy. You’ve got to start talking about him. Just because he didn’t start out like (Aaron) Judge and some of the other guys, he’s ahead of them.”
On Britton not being traded: “Zach’s always ... maybe a little anxiety he had was when he first came off the DL, how long it was going to take him to get in step. He knew how important the games were. I think those last couple outings, the last three, has made him not have that. He’s been around long enough to know ... I think the only thing that irritates players sometimes is some of the stuff their families have to deal with. His wife, and he has two kids. I know it’s part of living in this environment, but it comes with the territory. I didn’t see a whole lot different with him today. We always talk during BP.”
On tying Weaver: “I hadn’t thought about it that much. My first reaction is, it’s a little bittersweet because of the reverence that me, our city, our organization has for Earl. He did it, I’m sure, I haven’t looked at it, in less seasons, less whatever. I think we’d all love to have the things that he’s accomplished. I actually find a little bitter on the other side, I think because ... I don’t think anything is going to change how people revere him and what he accomplished here in Baltimore.”
On Trumbo: “We’re hoping that it’s eight more days. Talking to Richie (Bancells) and doctors, he’s going get an MRI in the morning and I actually think it might be 2 o’clock. It felt like it was going to be four or five days before he could test it and then feel comfortable about him doing it, so you’re talking about six or seven there, then a couple days, so it’s 10. I’m hoping it’s eight more days, but those things are so unpredictable, it’s hard to tell.”
On Gentry: “Anybody who knows Craig, he’s always on. He’s the type of guy you want on the team. That’s why we wanted to bring him in. He defends, he throws, he runs, he makes other teams change the way they play, whether it’s a bunt, whether ... He’s always ready. You’d like to have him on the bench or playing against left-hand pitching. That’s why I like hitting him ninth because you have the top of the order and Jonesy (Adam Jones) and those guys behind him. He can turn it over some.
“If the ball doesn’t hit him on the bunt, he’s on first base. He had a couple of hits yesterday, but it’s not September. We’ve tried a lot. When he was on the club, it was a really functional bench. It really allowed us to do a lot of things in the last three innings that we haven’t been able to do.”