After back-to-back nights facing left-handed starters, the Orioles will take their cuts against White Sox right-hander Hector Noesi in the finale of their three-game series at Camden Yards.
Pearce and Nelson Cruz are conspiring, though unintentionally, to keep Lough out of the lineup. And Lough hasn’t helped his own cause by batting .182/.262/.282.
Lough started consecutive games on June 9-10, but he has only four plate appearances since then, including a June 16 start.
Manager Buck Showalter prides himself on keeping his players “engaged” and not letting them accumulate excessive amounts of rust. Lough’s glove and speed give Showalter avenues for playing him.
“If the work habits are there, it’s not as much of a challenge. And if you’ll notice, we try to slip David into a game all the time to keep him engaged emotionally and mentally,” Showalter said. “Plus, he’s a really, really good defender. He might be as good of a defender as we have in the outfield, and can make a difference in a game running, so he’s always going to bring something that the other team has to be aware of.”
Noesi is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in seven games (two starts) against the Orioles, with 22 hits allowed, nine walks and 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. He’s pitched twice in relief at Camden Yards and hasn’t permitted a run in five innings.
Cruz is 2-for-5 with a home run against Noesi. Adam Jones is 2-for-4 with a homer.
Jones’ infield hit last night was his 19th this season. He began the night leading the American League and ranking fourth in the majors.
Showalter was asked yesterday about Cruz, which brought more compliments directed at the outfielder’s personality and demeanor. We already know the guy can hit home runs.
“He’s got a good heart and he’s got a good way about him,” Showalter said. “He’s easy to like. He smiles easily and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. You can kid with him. But he can get serious at the right times.
“He’s a humble guy and he’s a hard trier.”
Ubaldo Jimenez makes his 16th start tonight and his eighth at home, where he’s 0-6 with a 6.38 ERA in 36 2/3 innings. He’s 2-3 with a 4.92 ERA in nine career starts against the White Sox.
Adam Dunn is 5-for-32 (.156) against Jimenez, with two doubles, a home run and 19 strikeouts. That’s a pretty healthy sample size.
Dayan Viciedo is 7-for-18 (.389), Conor Gillaspie is 5-for-8 (.625) and Gordon Beckham is 7-for-22 (.318) with a home run.
Jimenez was leading the majors with 51 walks before last night. He’s walked 11 in his last two starts covering 11 2/3 innings, but he’s surrendered only three runs.
“I thought he pitched pretty well the last two times out. The last time especially,” Showalter said. “I think when you see his track record for better performances the second half of the season, you kind of like the idea of getting him back out there and see if we can get on that roll.”
I’ve heard that veteran left-hander Johan Santana intends to rehab from surgery to repair his torn Achilles and wants to take another shot at returning to the majors.
The Orioles were prepared to bring up Santana this month, encouraged by his velocity and command of his pitches, before the unfortunate injury that took place at extended spring training. Santana’s twice-repaired left shoulder was fine.
Santana is facing a lengthy rehab on his Achilles and it’s much too soon to speculate whether the Orioles would attempt to re-sign him.
Caleb Joseph committed his first error in the majors last night. He had one error in 21 games at Triple-A Norfolk.
Delmon Young is 12-for-26 (.462) in his last 10 games and 5-for-6 in his last three.
Major League Baseball’s transactions page lists Francisco Peguero as declining his outright assignment and electing free agency, which is news to the Orioles, since the outfielder was in Norfolk’s lineup last night and went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored.
Peguero doesn’t have the power to refuse an assignment.
Showalter is pleased to have minor league hitting instructor Jeff Manto around the club during the White Sox series. Manto spent two years as Chicago’s hitting coach.
“He’s good,” Showalter said. “We were lucky to get him. Manto is really good. Organized, got a great presentation to the players. We’re lucky to have him.”
What does it mean to have someone like Manto, who spent nine seasons in the majors - including 89 games with the Orioles in 1995 - interacting with the players?
“I’m a little biased,” Showalter said. “A lot of guys don’t know who he is or what he did or whatever. And quite frankly, when you’re constantly reminding them of that, it turns them off. It really does.”
Manto doesn’t pass around his resume. That’s not how he operates.
“I had a really good hitting coach that, I told him early, what you did in the past will last about 10 days in the spring,” Showalter said. “It may give you a door-opener, but if you don’t have some substance, it doesn’t matter.”
Manto doesn’t skimp on the praise for Double-A Bowie outfielder Dariel Alvarez, named yesterday to the All-Star Futures Game.
“I was talking to Jeff about him a lot (yesterday),” Showalter said. “He really likes him. My second question was, how was he defensively? They moved him to center field, but he’s probably more corner up here. But Jeff likes him as well as any of our offensive prospects. He’s 26, but you kind of throw that out.”
Showalter was asked yesterday why he didn’t challenge the call at first base Monday night on Adam Eaton’s infield hit in the third inning. Eaton eventually scored.
“It’s like the play in New York. It was the same return from our people,” Showalter said. “I guess you could have 3 1/2, but we basically have three signs and the one in between is the one where the whole onus is on me. What inning it is, the situation. If that play had happened at third with nobody out, we would have taken a pop at it. Of course, if you know how it’s all going to turn out, it would be a lot easier.”
Showalter doesn’t think an inconclusive ruling, which means that the call stands, should cost a team its challenge.
“Why should you lose the challenge if they can’t tell you that you’re wrong?” Showalter asked. “Doesn’t make much sense. If that was the rule, we probably would have challenged it.”
Showalter also thinks players shouldn’t be awarded first base if a pitch grazes their jersey instead of hitting a body part. Markakis was awarded first base Monday night under those circumstances. And Showalter wonders whether he could challenge the call “the other way” and extend Markakis’ at-bat.
“That would have been interesting, right? To challenge it the other way to get Nick back in the batter’s box with two strikes off (Chris) Sale,” Showalter said. “He’s the one who brought it up, though. He wanted to do it.”
In case there’s any confusion regarding Friday night’s doubleheader against the Rays, the Orioles can’t send out Kevin Gausman after Game 1 and bring up an infielder if Manny Machado is serving his suspension. Gausman is the 26th player and can’t be substituted in that manner. However, the Orioles could make a separate, more traditional roster move to bring up an infielder.
Machado’s appeal is being heard today in Baltimore. He may not find out until the weekend whether his suspension has been reduced.
Spoiler alert: It will be reduced. The only questions are how much and when does he begin serving it?