Back to a full bullpen

NEW YORK - Just for grins today, a reporter will ask Orioles manager Buck Showalter about his six-man rotation. Just to mess with him.

Maybe it’s going to be me. My revenge for fans asking me about the PTBNL in the Chad Bradford trade.

There is no six-man rotation with Kevin Gausman being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, but why mess with a good joke?

Showalter hasn’t revealed his rotation beyond the Yankees series. He’ll be pressed for more information today.

As Showalter pointed out, he could stick with a six-man bullpen as long as the starters pitched deep into games. Ubaldo Jimenez lasted only 5 2/3 last night, issuing six walks. A fly in the ointment.

The Orioles would prefer fly balls.

T.J. McFarland retired all six batters he faced on ground balls and Showalter got away with using three relievers, but the damage was done. Showalter wanted a long reliever today and the return of a seven-man ‘pen.

The Jimenez walks, by the way, are severely testing Showalter’s patience. It was evident as he met with reporters following the game. I’m surprised he could talk, the way he kept biting his tongue.

Ryan Webb began to warm in the seventh as McFarland protected a 2-1 lead. Not the usual role for McFarland, who stranded three runners in the sixth after inheriting Jimenez’s mess. Also not his usual role, since he had allowed seven of 11 inherited to score before last night.

Then again, does anyone besides Zach Britton really have a role?

“I was warming up in the eighth inning in Tampa, I was warming up to go into a tie game in the ninth inning in Tampa, and the next day I was throwing in the fifth inning,” Webb said. “It’s just, be ready when your name is called and hopefully we’ve got a close game and whenever you go out there and it’s close, you get the outs and keep us where we are. And I think everybody down there is capable of doing that. Buck’s got a lot of options, which is good.”

The relievers kept ignoring the math. There were only six of them, but they didn’t seem to notice that someone was missing.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Webb said before the roster move. “I think we have a good group of guys who can pitch whenever we’re called upon. You saw what happened the other day when Tommy (Hunter) had to go two innings and did great and really saved a lot of us down there.

“I think we have a lot of guys who are used to pitching a lot. I threw a lot last year, Tommy’s thrown a lot before, (Darren) O’Day can go out and throw, (Brian) Matusz and Britton were both starters in the past, and Mac, too.

“Right now, I feel like with the day off, we’re pretty well rested. I don’t know what their plan is for the whole six-man rotation and stuff like that, but whatever they want to do and whatever makes us better as a team, we’re going to be able to step up and take care of it down there and cover the innings. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

Britton called a six-man bullpen “different” and said he’s fine going multiple innings. Showalter had him warming in the eighth at Tropicana Field earlier this week, but Hunter got the job done.

“I know myself, I’m able to throw multiple innings, so that’s a situation that I’m fine with if it comes down to it,” Britton said. “You just hope that the starters give you innings like they have been, so it kind of takes a lot of pressure off us. But we have guys down there who are easily capable of throwing multiple innings.”

McFarland’s effort last night gets overlooked due to Carlos Beltran’s walk-off home run off Britton, but he came up big. He stranded three runners in the sixth, not normally his strong suit, and all six of his outs came on ground balls.

“Came in and had bases loaded there, tough jam, and I was able to get my guy out and help Ubaldo out of the inning,” he said. “I was able to throw strikes and get some outs. Did well.

“We ended up getting those two runs in the (sixth) inning and it looked like momentum was starting to swing our way. It happens. But we’ve got some more games here. We’re going to come back and win the series.”

Bud Norris will try to go deep today in his first career start against the Yankees. In 14 games (13 starts) against the American League East, he’s gone 4-5 with a 3.40 ERA over 87 1/3 innings.

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