BOSTON - Orioles manager Buck Showalter still hasn't named a starter for Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field, choosing to wait until Jason Hammel pitches on Friday. If Showalter needs a long reliever, he could end up using one of his candidates - Miguel Gonzalez or Bud Norris.
"Ham hasn't exactly been throwing seven, eight (innings), 100-plus pitches, so if we have to get him early and use somebody else, I just want to leave our options open," Showalter said following tonight's 3-1 loss to the Red Sox. "We have good people in place. It will be, as you guys know, it will be Miguel or Bud. And the other one will probably be available in the bullpen. Depending on what happens with that other situation we talked about, because that could change everything."
Showalter mentioned earlier today that a pitcher might have to leave the team due to an illness in the family. If that happens, it's conceivable that Gonzalez and Norris could both make starts.
John Lackey tossed a complete-game two-hitter and allowed the Red Sox to avoid being swept at Fenway Park. Chris Tillman rebounded from a rough beginning to retire 17 of the last 19 batters he faced, and reliever Darren O'Day retired the only batter he saw in his first appearance since Sept. 7.
"There was a small margin for error, but another example of Chris' maturity," Showalter said. "To think he was going to give us those seven is pretty impressive. Some good things happened. We got Darren out there. I know it was short, but he got up, felt good and got through an outing, which hopefully will help us the rest of the way. Just didn't do a whole lot. The story was Lackey. It was one of those tip your hat nights."
Here's more from Showalter:
On the importance of the four-game series against the Rays:
"Yeah, so is Toronto after that and Boston. It's why we do all those things in the offseason, spring training, the things that the players do to have an opportunity to play meaningful games at the end of the year. Our guys are looking forward to the opportunity that they have earned."
On Saturday's starter:
"Not for sure. We're going to see how we get through tomorrow. It's all hands on deck, it's Johnny Wholestaff and we're going to try like heck to win a game tomorrow and then see when the smoke clears who's our best option. But we have some good options in place."
"Most people aren't able to cut the ball with that velocity. He had a little extra tonight. To be able to throw that velocity with that cutter, he had late life the whole night and had great command. Since the surgery and he's gotten healthy and everything, he's been quite a force for them."
"It's another example of his maturity and where he's at now in his career that he can get through that. We could have made a lot of money if we were taking bets that he would pitch through the seventh. I kept being a couple pitches away from getting him out of there. I'm real proud of him. He was the reason we were still in that game. We had the tying run at the plate there. Lackey was just a little better than he was tonight."
On taking two out of three:
"After you win the first two, you'd really like to see if you could... They've got a good pitcher on the mound, we've got a good pitcher on the mound and usually there's a small margin for error. Our guys aren't satisfied with it. Mathematically over a long season it bodes well, but we're in a different spot. Every game is either a gained opportunity or a missed one."