ATLANTA - The Orioles shortened their bench today while inserting a fresh reliever into their bullpen.
Wilkerson collected his first major league hit and RBI last night with a single in the ninth inning, and he prevented a walk-off win for the Braves in the 14th by charging Dansby Swanson’s slow roller and making a strong and accurate throw to first base. He had about 100 people cheering for him in the stands, inflated ticket requests based on how he attended high school in Marietta, Ga. and Clemson University.
“Would have liked to have kept him,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He presented himself well. It’s just, we need a pitcher today and Donnie was our best option.”
Wilkerson was expected to be optioned on Monday when third baseman Tim Beckham comes off the disabled list, but last night’s marathon hastened his exit.
“He’s a baseball player,” Showalter said. “He’s used his time wisely. He’s continued to progress and he’s a guy that we kind of thought of the last year or so that he might be able to present a lot of the same things that Ryan Flaherty did for us last year.
“Switch-hitter, plays all over the place. Saw a lot of those skills. He’ll be back.”
The Orioles still have four reserves with no designated hitter in a National League ballpark.
Trey Mancini is on the bench for the third straight game as he tries to get rid of the last traces of neck stiffness. He pinch-hit last night and struck out.
Asked whether Mancini needed another day, Showalter replied, “Need? He could use it.”
“He’s close, he’s available,” Showalter said. “National League games kind of made it a little tougher, and I thought one more day might get him back 100 percent.”
For the Braves
Ender Inciarte CF
Ozzie Albies 2B
Freddie Freeman 1B
Nick Markakis RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Danny Santana LF
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Dansby Swanson SS
Julio Teheran RHP