Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to announce his starter for Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers, which also closes out the season’s first half. He’s going to let everyone know in the morning, with the likely choices Miguel Castro and Mike Wright Jr.
Showalter seems intent on taking someone out of the bullpen and leaving Chris Tillman at Triple-A Norfolk.
Wright logged 1 1/3 innings and threw 39 pitches on Wednesday. Castro worked a scoreless inning the following night while throwing only 10 pitches. Both relievers are available.
“A game like tomorrow, it’s not so much that you have four days off, it’s what happened the last two or three days is what you should worry about before you pitch somebody tomorrow,” Showalter said.
“Everybody talks about, what do you care, you have a bunch of days off? If you don’t handle them right, you’re going to have about have two months off, maybe a year off.”
Yefry Ramírez gave the Orioles five scoreless innings tonight, ignoring a callus on his right thumb that surfaced in the fourth. Jonathan Schoop’s sacrifice fly in the sixth scored Caleb Joseph, who drew a leadoff walk against Rangers left-hander Martin Pérez, and the Orioles held on for a 1-0 win at Camden Yards.
An announced crowd of 38,328 and Hall of Famer Brook Robinson’s presence made for a celebratory atmosphere that’s been missing.
“It certainly did,” Showalter said. “It’s been a tough season so far for our fans. Getting a chance to see Brooks, that’s a highlight of any day or any season, really. You sit there and you see him and you think about ... everything about him comes back and why people loved him so much. The smile, the engagement, the people around him.
“He’s a great lesson to a lot of players about the way you’re supposed to carry that mantel of notoriety, so to speak.”
The Orioles announced the hiring of Robinson as special advisor to the club, assuring that he’ll be a more regular figure at the ballpark and in the community. Robinson also has a standing offer to speak at spring training.
“I didn’t know about it, but what a great move,” Showalter said. “Are you kidding me? That’s super. That’s great. I’ve been asking him to every year. I ask Cal (Ripken). Some of them can make it.”
Ramírez allowed only two hits, walked three batters and struck out seven in his fourth major league start.
“He’s presented himself well,” Showalter said. “That’s the thing we liked about him. He has a certain calmness about him. When the game speeds up a little bit, he seems to be able to stay under control.
“He didn’t have a very good feel for his changeup his last outing and he didn’t early, but he found it in the second or third inning. Pitch count was a little high for five. He had a nail ...
“Ever since they changed some things about the baseball back in ‘15, you get a lot of that. He was bleeding. Didn’t want to put him back out there. We were going to cut him off around 95 anyway. What did he have, 94? He saw it was becoming an issue going into the fifth inning. He wanted to go back out there.”
Ramírez has earned more chances in the rotation. There’s a need and he’s staying.
“I also think there’s a lot for me to learn to improve,” he said through translator Ramón Alarcón. “I’m looking forward to continuing to improve, to continue to get better and help my team.”
The callus shouldn’t prevent Ramírez from making his next start, especially with the All-Star break next week.
“I had something similar last year,” he said. “It’s very minor.”
Brad Brach struck out two batters in the sixth to earn the win. Mychal Givens stranded a runner in the seventh after replacing Donnie Hart with two outs and escaped a jam in the eighth after a single and Schoop’s error. Zach Britton notched the save after a walk and wild pitch, getting a ground ball and two strikeouts.
“Zach was good again,” Showalter said. “His last three or four outings have been pretty special to watch. I thought Brad had a big inning in the sixth. Trying to piece it together and be on our feet for tomorrow’s game.”
Givens picked off pinch-runner Isiah Kiner-Falefa at second base and retired the next two batters to hold onto the one-run lead.
“It’s a very athletic play by a pitcher who was an infielder,” Showalter said.
“The pickoff was big, it took a lot of momentum out of their sails.”
Britton hasn’t allowed a run in his last six appearances. Right where he wants to be following his Achilles surgery and the long road back.
“Yeah. I think just getting in some of those save situations, just kind of get the adrenaline going and try to make some quality pitches,” he said. “I feel really good. Think I can get a little sharper with the command, obviously, but a lot of the sink and the life and all that stuff is really coming back, which is good to see.”
So is a large crowd, many of the fans donning their Maryland script jerseys also worn by the players, and the excitement of a narrow win.
“When I got out to the bullpen today I was like, ‘Oh,’ I know it’s a giveaway but we got a nice crowd on hand and they’re into it,” Britton said. “Hadn’t done the light show in a while. It’s been probably a whole year since I’ve come out there with that. That’s pretty cool to hear the crowd go crazy with that. I don’t think Buck likes it, though.
“That’s a pretty cool thing when you run on the field to hear that support behind you. So, yeah, definitely, it felt like years past.”
Britton laughed when asked whether he’s building trade value for himself.
“No,” he said, “I’m just happy to be feeling good and getting in some situation where I feel like more in my element, I guess, from years past with the team when we’re playing a tight game and getting out there and getting a win for the team.
“Brachy coming in right there. Yefry may have had something with the finger, I don’t know. But that’s tough. Brad probably hasn’t pitched that early in a game in a while. Came out there and did really well. And Givey, he’s starting to, I think, really get on a roll, too. So you want to go out there and follow that up and do well for the team. And the one-run game really narrows your focus down, making good, quality pitches.”