Hearing from Showalter after 4-1 win in Game 2

Following tonight’s 4-1 victory over the Rays in Game 2, Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman was returned to his optional assignment and transferred to short-season Single-A Aberdeen.

He won’t be an IronBird for long. Gausman had to be sent out because he was the 26th player today and Aberdeen is home. He can return to the Orioles as early as Tuesday and might start Wednesday or Thursday against the Rangers.

Game 2 starter Chris Tillman is on a roll, having allowed five runs in his last four starts over 28 innings. He rationed Tampa Bay to one run and four hits over eight innings tonight for his fourth consecutive quality start.

How has Tillman changed since his earlier struggles?

“Couple things,” Showalter said. “I know you all get tired of hearing command of the fastball. I think consistency of stuff, if that makes any sense. He’s carrying more pitches. It’s not always velocity. It’s crispness, finishing in the zone. A little more of that.

“He’s come so far. He made a couple good fielding plays tonight. The one that could have gone either way. I just think his stuff is a little crisper. He was 1.6 (seconds) to the plate. He’s really hard to run on now. He’s fielding his position now. You can get better. You can improve on those things.”

Catcher Nick Hundley broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with his first home run as an Oriole.

“Nobody works harder than Nick and cares more. And he’s been a guy who’s very easy to pull for, very easy to trust and he cares,” Showalter said.

“I can’t tell you how tough it is, a guy like Adam (Jones) ran down balls all night in the second game of a doubleheader after playing a very long, hot game. He just continues to post up. Those are things I take out of it. Chris (Davis) didn’t necessarily do a lot of damage offensively. Walked some and played a great first base. Probably the difference in two runs tonight was Chris at first base. And J.J. (Hardy), he just goes out there every day and turns in another good defensive effort.”

Jones tied his career high with four hits and is batting .302.

“His energy. He makes me tired watching him, just from his energy. It’s unbelievable every day,” Showalter said.

“We should never take it for granted, what he brings every day, regardless if he’s got a six-year contract or living day to day. That’s special and it’s rare and we’re fortunate to have him.”

Asked whether he assumes that the Orioles eventually will score runs based on the names he writes on the lineup card each night, Showalter replied, “No. I don’t. (Jake) Odorizzi is a good pitcher. You’ve heard me say these are the best pitchers in the world. You have times like that. I think the 120 pitches in three innings put both teams on their heels in the first game. The conditions aren’t always the same every night. You don’t say this should happen because this has happened in the past.

“You’re not driving in runs with people on base. Well, look at the things we’re doing to put people on base. There’s two sides to that. It’s frustrating to not finish it off. It’s like working a great count to 3-2 and then swinging at a pitch out of the zone. It’s so hard to finish off things that are potentially good at this level.”

The Orioles used only three relievers in the doubleheader - Brad Brach and Evan Meek in Game 1 and Zach Britton in Game 2.

“Oh, geez, I would have signed up for that in blood. Are you kidding?” Showalter said. “That’s a real tribute to the job Brach and Evan did, and of course the job Tillman did.

“He’d be the first to tell you he was a little fortunate. They squared up some balls that fortunately were at people, but there’s a certain karma that seems to carry through when guys are attacking the strike zone and having a good tempo to the game.”

Showalter still hasn’t heard when Manny Machado will begin serving his suspension and for how many games.

“We’re prepared if it happens tomorrow. We can do a couple things if we have to,” Showalter said.

“I told Gaus, ‘You know, you use that 26th guy for both games.’ I talked to him between games about what was going to happen and a couple other things, and I said, ‘Keep your powder dry because you’re a pinch-runner the second game. Your body’s here, we’re going to use you.’ He asked me what keeping his powder dry meant. I’m officially old.

“You’ve got to light the powder to light the fireworks, right? For the fuse? I’m officially punch drunk.”

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