PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - David Riske covered the last two innings for the Orioles, retiring all six batters he faced and striking out three to seal a 7-2 victory over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.
The bullpen brought it strong today with six scoreless innings, including two each from Jason Berken and Josh Rupe. The unit allowed three hits, didn't issue a walk and struck out seven.
"Boy, Riske has been impressive," manager Buck Showalter said. "Rupe continues to throw the ball well. I think that's as crisp as I've seen Berken this year. His breaking ball really has some depth and some tilt on it."
Rupe hasn't allowed an earned run in 13 2/3 innings.
"Fortunately, I've seen him do this before," Showalter said. "He's just trusting (Matt) Wieters. Put it down and let's go. When a guy has that many quality pitches in his arsenal, sometimes you can have too many. He threw, I think, six straight sinkers to (Evan) Longoria. That's Matt as much as it is Rupe. Pretty good. Let's go. Why do you want to mess with anything else?
"He's got a quality arm. Sometimes like that, a 28-year-old kind of figures it out. You can't overthink it. Just trust your pitch quality. He knows it too.
"It's funny. He was sitting there after he came in from the inning, three up and three down, the four pitches to Longoria. He was saying, 'I was thinking about curveball there.' Matt's just sitting there and he kind of looks at me and says, 'Just throw the ball.' We'll see if it carries over to the season if he makes the club."
Showalter said it's possible that Berken and Rupe could make the team. It's not necessarily a competition between them.
Showalter also talked about starter Ryan Drese, who allowed two runs and five hits in three innings.
"The last inning was good," Showalter said. "He's struggling a little with his release point on his sinker, but he kept us in it, it didn't get away from him."
As I wrote earlier, J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs to raise his average to .388.
"He's got a good approach going right now," Showalter said. "It's something that he got into very early in camp and it stayed there. That's hard to do. He's in a good spot offensively, I think mentally as much as physically."
Showalter was impressed with Felix Pie's catch in center field and the marathon at-bat against left-hander Cesar Ramos that ended with a walk.
"That was a great at-bat," he said. "In years past, Felix would have let (Ramos) take him out of the strike zone with strike three, not foul as many balls off, but he spit on that one. Hopefully, that's a sign of maturity. I think he's come a long way since he's come to Baltimore."
Trent Mummey, a fourth-round pick out of Auburn, pinch-ran and scored a run.
"You got to see a Mummy today," Showalter said.
See what he did there?