Today’s attendance: 27,809
Luke Scott homered off Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning to provide a huge insurance run and end the left-handers strikeout streak at five, and Kevin Gregg recorded his 14th save by retiring three batters after former Oriole Ramon Hernandez greeted him with a home run on the first pitch in the top of the ninth.
Orioles 7, Reds 5.
Jeremy Guthrie picks up his third victory of the season, and the Orioles take two of three from Cincinnati after going 3-6 on their last road trip.
“Jeremy carried really good stuff today,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Thought some of the defensive challenges we had today really cut into his innings. I’m sure it’s frustrating for him because he had the stuff to go really deep in that game. That’s about as good of stuff he’s carried this year, other than the first game.
Mark Reynolds committed two more errors, and a few other plays weren’t made behind the Orioles’ pitchers.
“You win a ballgame against one of the better teams in the National League and it’s a hard-fought three games, I’m going to take that finished product,” Showalter said. “We’ve got some people playing at a real high level of defense, too. I think there’s a lot of unknown with Blake (Davis) there. We know D (Derrek Lee) and J.J. (Hardy). And Mark’s made some plays that other third basemen don’t make, but obviously his error total’s higher than it has been in the past and I think you’ll see that hopefully go down as the season goes on. I think Luke (Scott) has done a pretty good job in left field, all things considered. And Nick (Markakis) and A.J. (Adam Jones) and Matt (Wieters). And I thought (Craig) Tatum was outstanding today behind the plate. That’s a tough game to call.”
Markakis extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
“Just being a baseball player, playing the heck out of right field, running the bases, stealing a base, taking what they give him, and home runs just come, not by accident, but as a result of good at-bats,” Showalter said. “We had a conversation two or three weeks ago along those lines. ‘That’s what we want you to be.’ I think Nick sometimes tries to do too much. You guys saw it. There’s nobody who was hotter coming out of spring training. I don’t think I’ve ever had a player go through a whole spring training with the approach and centering up so many balls in spring training. I almost wanted him to stop. He actually started off pretty well, too, but things like that make you stronger if you come out of them. It’s not like it’s been a bed of roses for him his whole career, and it’ll be something he’ll be able to reach back with with a sense of calmness the next time it happens. If it happens.
“He’s letting the ball travel, getting deep. He’s making them get him out. He’s not getting himself out as much, and he’s taking what they give him. Nick’s not going to sneak up on anybody. Everybody in baseball knows what kind of hitter he is, and they’re pitching him tough. And I think also, some of the guys around him swinging the bat better with J.J. and Jonesy and D-Lee coming on have made the focus less on him.”
Showalter also talked about the offense heating up. The 2-3-4-5 hitters today went a combined 7-for-17 with five RBIs and three runs scored.
“One thing that’s always why veteran players are attractive is because they have a track record and you’ve got some semblance of being able to, not assume, but feel like guys are going to be able to go there if they’re healthy,” Showalter said. “It’s a challenge sometimes, but I see all the work going on behind the scenes. Today, we didn’t hit on the field, and the batting cage was rattling around for an hour and 10 minutes today. These guys, they take their responsibility very seriously and I’m proud where they are right now.”
I asked Showalter about Johnson’s two bases-loaded walks and whether the reliever was making good pitches. I knew the answer, but wanted to see how Showalter would respond without torching plate umpire Alan Porter.
“J.J. was making good pitches,” Showalter said. “I thought he had as good of command as he’s had. And I thought (Clay) Rapada did a great job with Votto. And I’ll stop right there for the time being. Sometimes, those bubble gum cards come into play.”
Here’s more from Showalter:
“Our starting pitchers are giving us a chance to win a ballgame and the bullpen’s making it matter. We’re getting some leads and we’re spreading out and giving ourselves a margin for error. There are some things we can’t overlook. We’ve got to be a little better defensively. You just can’t give people extra outs in the major leagues. It causes a lot of things to happen - a pitcher not being able to pitch into a certain inning he should be able to, and it taxes the bullpen sometimes.”
Asked about Reynolds’ struggles in the field, Showalter said, “You have to keep in mind that as much as there’s an adjustment to the American League, there’s also an adjustment to a lot of different things that challenge people, and I think you’ll only see Mark getting better as the season goes on from a statistical standpoint. I try to keep in mind some plays he makes that, if he doesn’t make them, they’re scored base hits. You try to turn as many hits into outs as you can. It’s more than making the routine plays at this level. You’ve got to be able to turn some hits into outs, too.”