ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter earned his 1,200th career win today, which meant nothing to him. He was more interested in his club taking two of three from the Rays at Tropicana Field.
“How many losses?” Showalter asked. “You know what that means? You get an opportunity for 1,200 more if you’ve got good players.
“It means I’m old. It means I’m old.”
Showalter was ready to argue plate umpire Pat Hoberg’s strike zone in the first inning and get himself tossed. Kevin Gausman was getting squeezed while the Rays loaded the bases with no outs.
Gausman escaped the jam with two strikeouts and a fly ball.
“There was some adversity there he didn’t create,” Showalter said.
“He was good today. You file things away and you reach back for them when you’re in another bind. If you’ve been in Starkville, Mississippi, in front of 10,000 or 15,000 people on a Friday night, I’m not saying it’s the same. They might have had more people there.
“It’s good. I’d have signed up in blood for six innings. I was kidding Dave (Wallace)in the dugout, we should do one of these college specials and let him throw about 140. Dave looked at me and said, ‘We’re not going to do that.’ But, we could.”
Gausman threw a career-high 111 pitches in six innings, including 35 in the first. He blanked the Rays on five hits for his first road win as a starter.
“Command of the fastball down in the zone, an out-pitch,” Showalter said. “He’s really worked on his times to the plate to take that 90 feet out of play. Command of some secondary pitches. When he’s got to reach back for a little extra, it’s there.
“Our guys down below and last year have done a good job of making sure he’s in good shape physically to pitch, we hope through October.”
Gausman’s maturity was on full display in the first inning.
“It’s frustrating,” Showalter said. “What are you going to do, quit? He knows (Alex) Cobb’s pitching. He knows runs are going to be at a premium. A lot of guys, as soon as they get the first out, they get a little bit in swing mode. There are so many borderline pitches, if that. He didn’t just get caught up in that. Hats off to him. I don’t know if I could have done it. I was getting ready to join the clubhouse guys.”
Showalter was down to three available relievers today because he didn’t want to use Darren O’Day, Ryan Webb and Brian Matusz. Tommy Hunter responded by retiring all six batters he faced and carrying the lead to closer Zach Britton.
“I was willing to use Zach extra,” Showalter said. “Six pitches yesterday and an off-day tomorrow. I would have stretched him today, but Tommy kept us from having to do that.
“We’re going to need Tommy. I’ve said before, we’re going to need Tommy to pitch like he did last year for us in that non-ninth inning for us, especially with that six-man bullpen. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to go with it, but we’ll see.”
Steve Pearce continued to rake against the Rays and especially at The Trop, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI. He also doubled up Evan Longoria at second base to end the sixth inning.
“Stevie just seems to be dialing up what we need,” Showalter said. “Probably no coincidence that he was involved in that double play, too, that he came in and caught. Pretty good positioning by (Wayne) Kirby. Wayne very quietly every pitch does a good job of moving those guys around. I know Nellie (Nelson Cruz) caught a ball in left-center last night. I couldn’t believe anyone was standing there.”