Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed tonight that left-hander T.J. McFarland will start Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers at Camden Yards.
Talk about having a tough act to follow. (And talk about a tired cliche.)
Ubaldo Jimenez held the Rangers to an unearned run over a season-high eight innings in a 7-1 win over the Rangers - his first victory at Camden Yards this season.
“He’s had some good ones this year,” Showalter said. “It’s that time of year as far as track record and really our needs. He was solid. It was needed. We had people who could pitch, but it was needed. He was solid. He had command of all his pitches. I thought very first hitter there he goes 3-2 and gets a strikeout and he kind of settled in and was on his way.”
Jimenez has been booed while walking off the mound this season. Tonight, he exited to a standing ovation.
“We have very knowledgeable fans. They know how good he’s capable of being,” Showalter said.
“I heard David Cone one time outside my office in New York talking about fans responding negatively toward an outing, and he made a great statement I’ve always remembered and I’ve actually talked to Ubi about it, that everybody’s waiting to embrace you. It’s your responsibility to give them something to embrace you about. Especially here. They want you to do well. Everybody’s waiting to embrace you.
“You guys know him. He’s an extremely likable young man who cares and works hard. Never have to worry about him off the field. He’s a great teammate, takes care of his family. So, you pull for him. He may not wear it on his sleeve, but it bothers him when he can’t deliver every time he cocks his arm.”
The Orioles actually scored runs for Jimenez, who got through eight innings without fainting.
“You just have a little more margin of error,” Showalter said. “You can get in attack mode more. You get some counts in your favor, you can try to put somebody away and not always try to make a perfect pitch. And with that, it allows you to get in the flow and let your ability take over.”
Steve Pearce continues to wield a scorching bat, producing his first multi-homer game.
“Stevie has the ability to get locked in for a long time because he has such a great approach and work habits, and he gives himself a chance to be successful,” Showalter said. “He never had an at-bat that he’s satisfied with other than getting a hit and hitting the ball hard. He holds himself to a high standard.
“Sometimes he’s pretty hard on himself, so he’s a guy you don’t have to... I’d rather have to pull guys back than push them forward. He’s a guy you don’t ever have to push forward.”
Asked whether Pearce is the type of player a manager pulls for, Showalter replied, “We pull for all of them. Bounce around? If you’re constantly wanted by a lot of different organizations, that tells you kind of the reputation you develop. I’m sure some people are kicking themselves. He had options to go somewhere else. He wanted to play for the Baltimore Orioles and be here, and that meant a lot to us.
“He had options. He had a decision to make and it took a lot of trust on his part. To walk away from the contract guaranteed he had for a few days to come back, he had to really trust us. He had some other options out there, too.”
Chris Davis made a couple of nice plays at third base, moving to both sides, but also committed a throwing error that led to the unearned run.
“I think Chris semi-enjoyed playing third,” Showalter said, grinning.
Does this mean Showalter is comfortable playing Davis at third base for the rest of Manny Machado’s suspension?
“No. Not yet,” he replied. “It’s about getting your clock over there. You can tell his clock was a little off. It’s hard going around. That’s why these guys who can play a lot of different positions are so valuable. They’ve got a feel for when they’ve got to hurry, when they’ve got to slow down. If he played over there for a while, that would change.
“Just thinking about it today, what I’m going to do tomorrow, I’m going to wait and see what tonight brought. But he presents some options for us.”
Ramon Ramirez made his Orioles debut in the ninth and struck out two batters.
“I don’t think I’d ever had a pitcher pitch for me that I had never met,” Showalter said. “Tonight was the first. I introduced myself to him after he came out of the game. He got here and landed about 7:20, was in the bullpen about 8:30. He had all these things going around - the package has landed, the package has arrived. It’s in the bullpen now. I understand what his day was like today. I think he’ll only hopefully even be crisper.
“Talking to R.J. (Ron Johnson) and Griff (Mike Griffin), who are great evaluators for us, they felt like he was the best option. I’m not going to go into how they described him, but he presented himself as such tonight. We’ll see what the future brings.”