Orioles manager Buck Showalter believes that fastball command enabled Jeremy Guthrie to hold Tampa Bay to two runs and three hits over seven innings in tonight's 6-2 victory before an announced 14,669 at Camden Yards.
Guthrie has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last five starts. He improved to 8-17 with a 4.22 ERA.
Buck Showalter talks with the media after the Orioles' win 6-2 over the Rays
"Obviously, his outing was the difference," Showalter said. "You know when you play Tampa, for the most part you're going to have to pitch with them. Starting pitching especially. Tonight, it was that case again. Some timely hitting.
"Jeremy's had some really good stretches this year. Pitching in the major league is hard, OK? It's not something every guy on the street corner can do. He's had some very good outings, and I thought J.J. (Jim Johnson) threw the ball well tonight, too.
"(Robert) Andino was a big factor in the game tonight, too. The double play he and J.J. (Hardy) turned, it might have been a whole different situation there. But Robert made a lot of plays not many second basemen make."
Talking more about Guthrie, Showalter added, "Command of the fastball opens up all the pitches to you. The best pitch in baseball is a well-located fastball and strike one. When that happens, a lot of things open up for you. It's something that all pitchers try to grasp."
Chris Davis hit his second home run as an Oriole, and his three-run shot gave them a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning.
"The guy's hitting close to .250," Showalter said. "That's a pitch that is a ball, but that's the way a lot of guys pitch him. To see him get through that ball, I hope that's a testament to him feeling better physically. That's the first time I really felt like there might be some issues with him, some balls he normally gets to he wasn't getting to. To hit that ball in the gap off that left-hander, that's a pretty good indicator about his bat speed."
Showalter doesn't seem to be embracing this spoiler role, and he wasn't ready to pound his chest over taking two of three from the red-hot Rays.
"I'm not about making statements and all that stuff," he said. "Tomorrow, our guys have their first true off-day in 27 days. I'd just like for them to leave tonight and enjoy tomorrow. The things that they've grinded through this year and continue to, I'm proud of them.
"For Matty (Wieters) to his 20th home run in a big situation, be able to open that up and give us some breathing room, whether it's against somebody that's still in it or not, from our standpoint as an organization and a team, it should be what we are about instead of the exception."