One sure sign that a season is winding down is the start of exit physicals for the players.
The Orioles began the process, as they usually do on this date. You may recall that reliever Brad Brach underwent a minor procedure on left his knee on Oct. 11 that involved the repairing of a slight tear in his meniscus.
Manager Buck Showalter was asked again this afternoon whether he would consider shutting down Dylan Bundy, whose innings have risen to 169 2/3 in 28 starts. He’s failed to complete the fifth in two of his last three outings.
Less than 24 hours after the initial inquiry, Showalter said nothing has changed “to report publicly” and Bundy will make another start.
“There’s three or four others you could ask that same question about and probably will,” Showalter said. “I hope we continue to have to make those decisions.”
Wade Miley lasted only one-third of an inning in his last start in New York, but he didn’t have an extended work day leading into Wednesday night’s game.
“Normally we would have, but this time of the season with the innings and the ups he’s had logged, not a whole lot different,” Showalter said. “I think he maybe had a little more effort and strenuous approach to it, but nothing out of the ordinary, especially this time of the year.”
Showalter used eight relievers last night, one fewer than the Red Sox, but the Orioles didn’t need to make any adjustments to their bullpen.
“We should be OK tonight,” Showalter said. “Most everybody’s available with the exception of a couple of guys. We didn’t have to dry hump anybody or double barrel, the stuff that gets you in trouble. We should be in pretty good shape with the exception of one or two. Physically, anyway.
“Whether or not the opposition cooperates and makes outs, we’ll see.”
Zach Britton recorded a four-out save Sunday afternoon in New York and pitched a scoreless ninth inning last night, totaling 34 pitches over two games. Showalter probably wants to stay away from him tonight if possible.
Showalter isn’t ready to slip into evaluation mode while the Orioles are mathematically alive for the wild card. Hays is contributing at the plate and the Orioles are facing two straight left-handed starters beginning with Drew Pomeranz.
Asked whether he’s considered amending the lineup to play more of the younger guys, Showalter noted that the expanded roster isn’t filled with prospects.
“You’re talking about, say, (Chance) Sisco? And then who?” he asked. “We don’t have that many here. This is my point. We have Hays, who played yesterday and is playing a good deal. Santander is kind of, we know what’s going on there. I think you might lean more toward that if circumstances change toward seeing ... basically, you’re talking about Chance, I guess. There’s nobody else. So, yeah, that will kind of reveal itself to us as we go forward, about what we can do and what we can’t do.
“We’re going to try to win every ballgame and see what happens. But you’re always trying to blend the two together. I know in our mode and most every other team, we’re trying to develop players and win at the same time. That’s the challenge. Because they don’t have a track record up here and you don’t really know how they’re going to do up here. I don’t care what their numbers or scouting reports are. It’s just a different gig.
“Most of it is because of the extreme jump in the quality of pitching they face up here compared to what they’re facing down below. It’s one of the biggest jumps in the level of play from the minor leagues to the major leagues.”
The Orioles need to finish 8-3 to avoid their first losing season since 2011. Does it really matter whether a team wins 79 or 82 games?
“Yes, because that’s three more games the Orioles have won and didn’t lose. That’s the way I look at it,” Showalter said.
“It makes a difference. The tough thing is you’re always trying to put your best foot forward and try to win a game. I think people have a curiosity about a Chance and about a Santander and about a Hays because it may bode well for the Orioles if they’re potentially going to be impactful. We’ll see. But we’re at the point where people don’t come to see the venue unless you’re a Red Sox fan or something. They get to see their team, too. But they come to see the Orioles win. That’s why they come. But you’re also trying to present the present as good and present the future as good.
“I’m sure some people up in marketing and ticket sales and whatever ... I understand that a lot of people’s ability to do their jobs rests with the presentation of the product that we have on the field. All that other stuff is one thing, but it’s about the product on the field. Does it mean something about next year? You could debate that, but I’m a big believer that you seek your level and you are who you are in this game. There’s just too many things along the way to have some Cinderella story. There’s not one. There’s never a Cinderella story in baseball.
“Even a wild card that wins a World Series. You know how hard it is to be a wild card team? People don’t realize how hard this is and you’re always trying to make sure it’s empathy and not sympathy for the challenges. It’s pretty easy to figure out how you’ve got to do it as far as the job description is. Nobody’s got to tell us how we’re doing. There’s a scoreboard and standings every day and you’re comparing yourself to everybody else.”
For the Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Mitch Moreland 1B
Christian Vázquez C
Rafael Devers 3B
Sam Travis DH
Brock Holt 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Drew Pomeranz LHP