Looking back and ahead, and a note on McFarland

Was anyone else surprised to learn that Chris Davis’ pinch-hit walk-off home run last night was the first by an Oriole since Larry Sheets on Aug. 24, 1988 against the Mariners?

Sheets’ shot came against reliever Mike Schooler in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Memorial Stadium. The Mariners’ third base coach was current Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley.

Sheets was pinch-hitting for third baseman Rene Gonzalez. Pinch-runner Brady Anderson, who replaced Fred Lynn, scored ahead of Sheets.

Lynn started in right field. Ken Gerhart was in center.

The Orioles have five walk-off wins this season. Matt Wieters has the other walk-off home run, in Game 2 of a May 1 doubleheader against the Pirates.

Can Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez repeat his magic from his last start against the White Sox?

Does magic carry over that far?

In his only career start against Chicago back on Sept. 5, 2013, Gonzalez picked up the win after allowing one run and four hits over seven innings. He walked one and struck out six.

The White Sox’s starter that night? Left-hander Jose Quintana, who starts tonight.

Hold me.

Quintana allowed three runs in seven innings, all on solo home runs by Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts.

Interesting decision by Edgmer Escalona to refuse his outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk and become a free agent. He was on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder impingement, barely getting on the mound in spring training. He made six appearances for the Tides, including three starts, and posted a 6.10 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

In Escalona’s last outing, he surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in four innings. Now, he’s forfeited his salary in order to test the free agent market.

Best of luck.

The Norfolk rotation isn’t quite how the Orioles envisioned it. Escalona leaves it and Randy Wolf should eventually join it. Kevin Gausman is leaving it again, and so is Suk-min Yoon, who’s on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement. Steve Johnson also is on the DL, but he threw again yesterday and is making steady progress in his recovery from right shoulder tendinitis. Eddie Gamboa is serving a 50-game suspension.

Nick Additon and Chris Jones have been forced into the rotation. Josh Stinson is joining it tonight, with Wolf following him to the mound. Mike Wright is supposed to flourish in it after a big year at Double-A Bowie in 2013, but he’s 1-6 with a 6.32 ERA.

Anthony Vasquez and Jason Gurka each made one start for the Tides this season.

Has anyone seen Freddy Garcia?

T.J. McFarland made five starts for Norfolk, but he’s needed in the Orioles bullpen, where he’s allowed only one run in 12 2/3 innings over six appearances this month and held opponents to a .191 average.
McFarland has made a slight adjustment in his delivery since opponents batted .419 against him in four May games.

“Guys like him, there’s a fine line,” said manager Buck Showalter. “When you’re in the dugout and you see the level of the presentation on the pitch, if he’s below that area, it’s a ball right out of his hand and nobody passes at it. If he’s above that area and it’s sinking back to the hitting zone, he’s going to get whacked a little bit. But if he started in this level and have it appear as a strike and leave the middle of the strike zone, you get a lot of outings like you’ve gotten here recently.

“He’s in a pretty good groove. He’s spun the ball enough to slow them down, a couple changeups.”

McFarland is normally used as the long man to back up a right-handed starter, though his role changed while the Orioles employed a six-man bullpen. He most likely will be called upon tonight if Gonzalez makes an early exit.

“Having a guy like Mac who can defend himself against right-handed and left-handed hitters is big in the length,” Showalter said.

“Extended for him is not like extended for other guys. He threw, what, two-plus innings the other night and threw 20-something pitches. That’s efficient. When you’ve got that pitch that starts in the strike zone and leaves it, you get a lot of ground balls.

“Another thing about Mac. Some guy walks in here with food poisoning or whatever, I can walk around the corner, ‘Mac, you’re starting. Get your stuff ready.’ ‘Fine.’ He can do that, he can do that.”

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