As the curtain finally came down on the third inning tonight, Orioles manager Buck Showalter sat in the dugout with pitching coach Rick Adair and tried to formulate a plan for getting through the rest of the game without burning out his bullpen. Starter Miguel Gonzalez lasted only 2 2/3 innings. The baton would be passed multiple times until the two teams reached the finish line.
So what's the state of the bullpen following the Orioles' 10-1 loss to the Rays before 19,582 at Camden Yards?
"It's something we're talking about," Showalter said. "We were talking about it after the third inning because we were trying to map out how we were going to get through the rest of the game without jeopardizing anybody. Had to push (Matt) Lindstrom a little further than we wanted to. We're talking about it."
Gonzalez turned in the worst start of his brief major league career, allowing five runs in the first and seven over 2 2/3. His ugly line included three hit batters.
"Command, the thing he's been good with," Showalter said, summing up why Gonzalez labored so badly. "He didn't really carry the secondary stuff early. The changeup/split that's been a good pitch for him, he didn't really have a feel for it tonight. But he's pitched well for us. Tonight, he didn't."
Gonzalez has allowed seven runs in the first inning.
"What happens is, when a guy counts on command and making a hitter realize that he has a lot of different pitches that he'll throw in any count, he kind of needs to establish that early and he wasn't able to do that. And that's been somewhat of a challenge for him," Showalter said.
You want a challenge? Try rallying against David Price after falling behind, 5-0, in the first.
"The guys understand the margin of error, but they came back in and put a run up there," Showalter said. "If we could have held it at 5-1 and not created such a margin of error for him, who knows what would have happened. I thought actually the tack-on runs after five were really big regardless of who was pitching. It really opened him up to attack the zone, and when you're trying to get back in it, you're so susceptible to anything soft.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the American League. You hate to spot him that, but at 5-1 I still thought whatever. But you knew you were going to have to pitch a lot of innings out of your bullpen again."