Showalter talks about slumps and a Hall of Fame manager

Major League Baseball announced today via Twitter that the American League posted a 142-110 (.563) record in interleague play, winning the season series for the ninth consecutive year and 12th time in 16 years.

The Orioles may want to switch leagues to avoid facing the Angels’ C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver the next two nights.

A team with 17 runs in its last nine games will be severely challenged to get hot against those two arms.

“They’re trying to get it all back in one at-bat. It’s human nature,” manager Buck Showalter said Sunday, before his team was shut out for seven innings and needed a big swing from Matt Wieters to claim a 2-1 victory.

“It’s a challenge to try to live in that moment. People outside of it are thinking big picture and this means this is going to happen. We always look at things like, this is going to continue for the next 90 games or however many are left. But that’s why a lot of managers and general managers are looking for guys with track records, so when they go through some of these periods, you know eventually they’re going to revert to it. Obviously, it’s got a lot to do with pitching, but we’ve faced good pitching this year before. We’ve been in these baseball games because our guys are pitching well.

“What usually happens in my experience is you get a couple swinging bunts and a couple broken-bat flares and everything all of a sudden falls into place. But it’s a hard thing. You don’t go in the cage and work on swinging bunts and flaring the ball. You’re trying to make consistent contact. You can’t guide the ball.

“What’s really frustrating is a guy is struggling a little bit and he hits two or three balls right on the button right at somebody. The guy that says, ‘Well, they all equal out’ loses hitters at ‘Hello,’ because they don’t. Every five you hit at somebody, you might get one dunker. But you’re just trying to square the ball up consistently and the odds are in your favor, because the faster the ball comes off your bat, the less time they have to react to defend it. That’s really what you’re trying to do. Or if you can hit enough balls where they can’t put defenders, which is over the fence, that works, too.”

On Saturday, the Orioles will honor Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver by unveiling his statue in the picnic area. Showalter attended Frank Robinson’s ceremony, and there’s no way he’d miss one for Weaver, who has been a welcomed guest at spring training and is encouraged to address the team and coaching staff.

“I think it’s been more fascinating spending time with him and talking with him,” Showalter said. “The more you’re around the game, things don’t just happen. Certainly, he’d be the first to tell you he had good pitchers and players, but he’s a brilliant man. Far ahead of his time. He chuckles at some of the things people are trying to act like are new in this game. The more I see some of the things, the more I know that Earl and Billy (Martin) and Sparky (Anderson) and those guys... I got to see how they did things. They were so innovative and ahead of their time. They weren’t afraid. I think that was the one common denominator. There wasn’t much fear. I think they knew when they walked into some rooms, their baseball intellect, I’m sure, could be intimidating.

“We had a great seminar this spring where we had all our coaches and managers in the room, and Earl had the floor. Believe me, I think everybody there would have liked for it to go on all day. It’s not that you may not know, but you want to get his take on it. Hearing him talking about shifts and hearing him talk about holding runners and cutoffs and relays, the bunt, it’s fascinating. There’s not enough time in the day to get everything you’d like to get from him.

“He’s been real supportive. One thing that always hits me when I talk to him is what a fan of the Orioles he is and how closely he follows us.”

It took a while for Showalter to grow comfortable enough to address him as “Earl.”

“I tried ‘Mr. Weaver’ a few times, but he wanted no part of that. But that’s the (reverence) we all have for him and what he meant to the Orioles, and to baseball in general,” Showalter said.

“I remember talking to John Hart, who was a young coach who came into big league camp. He still remembers how Earl would have these meetings at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning and go over the day’s schedule and what they were going to do. Cal Sr. was there, Ray Miller, all the guys who were his guys. John said he remembers walking in and you could hardly see each other from the smoke. He said, ‘I guess I’m going to have to start smoking.’ It was the first time he saw uniforms that had little pockets sewn in them where they could put their cigarettes. He said he’d have to go outside and exhale. But I’d love to have been a part of those. Maybe standing by the door with a dehumidifier or whatever they call it.

“They were baseball men. They were men at work long before the book was written. I remember going out and playing their minor league teams and just seeing how things were done, seeing Cal Sr. walking around. You could see the four fields, and you could go to any field and everything was being done the same way. Pretty cool.”

Getting back to Saturday’s ceremony, Showalter said, “Don’t think for a second it’s not a huge thing for him coming up. He’ll try to downplay it and spread the praise, but it’s pretty cool. And the whole organization is thankful to ownership for doing this because it doesn’t come without a real commitment.”

Down on the farm, Triple-A Norfolk right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was charged with one run and three hits in six-plus innings today at Toledo. He walked two and struck out eight.

The Orioles are trying to stretch out Gonzalez in case they need him to start later this summer. He threw 87 pitches today, 60 for strikes.

Gonzalez left after a leadoff single, and Brad Bergesen loaded the bases with no outs before escaping the jam with a strikeout and double play.

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