ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles may not be able to wait until Saturday to make a roster move.
After using Brad Brach for 3 1/3 innings and calling upon five relievers tonight, manager Buck Showalter indicated that the club may need to bring up a pitcher for Friday night’s series opener against the Athletics at Camden Yards.
Showalter would prefer a right-handed long man to back up left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, and Brach isn’t available. Kevin Gausman, a candidate to start on Saturday, would be one solution.
The Orioles could activate Tommy Hunter from the disabled list instead of having him pitch Saturday at Single-A Delmarva, but he worked two innings today in a simulated game.
Brach didn’t allow a run in 3 1/3 innings.
“That’s why we got back in the ballgame. He was outstanding,” Showalter said. “I thought (Brian) Matusz was really good, too, and so was Webby (Ryan Webb). We just ran out of bullets, had to use a couple people we were trying to stay away from, but Mac (T.J. McFarland) isn’t really in play tomorrow with a left-handed starter, so we felt OK with stretching him. But we’re going to let the smoke clear and see what our needs might be, if we have to push up some activation or something.”
The bullpen was stretched because of Chris Tillman’s abbreviated start. He retired only three batters and was removed in the second inning.
Tillman insists that he’s fine physically, that he’s just not executing his pitches, but Showalter is asked about the right-hander’s health after every poor outing.
“He pitched some good games,” Showalter said. “I understand why those questions are asked, because we’ve all seen the level that he’s capable of pitching at, not only last year but this year. He’s been very honest with us and I think that’s what’s frustrating for him.”
Asked if Tillman is frustrated, Showalter replied, “Not outwardly, but you know it’s there. Chris doesn’t like to put his teammates in that situation, and I think all guys understand that it affects a lot of people when we get those short starts. But we’ve got to figure it out because he’s an integral part of what we need to do here.
“He was up, up. If you look back through it, changeup up, fastball up. He just didn’t make many quality pitches down in the zone.”
Tillman’s issues aren’t a mystery to him. Solving them is the challenge.
“It’s evident to me, I’m just not executing pitches,” he said after his ERA rose to 5.20. “Thinking back to last start, I was able to execute when I needed to. I got in some trouble, but I was able to execute. I’m not making good quality pitches right now.
“It’s always frustrating anytime you leave the game early. Couple back-to-back bad ones doesn’t make it any worse. It’s always frustrating. It’s our job to go deep into games and save the bullpen. Didn’t happen.”
Tillman got into two-strike counts, but he couldn’t put away the Rangers’ hitters.
“It was close. It really was,” he said. “I got ahead quite a bit and couldn’t make that one key pitch to get that one ground ball or put the guy away. It doesn’t help matters when I’m falling behind and walking guys. That’s not me, that’s not my game. I attack hitters. It’s going to come. It is.”
Tillman kept believing that each batter would be the turning point in his start - pointing him in the right direction - but it didn’t happen.
“One hundred percent,” he said. “That’s got to be your game plan every time. Every one gets in trouble. Just got to handle it and in tougher situations make tough pitches.”
Asked whether he learns anything from another poor start, Tillman replied, “I throw it away. It’s just one of those ones you can’t take anything from. You learn what you need to do better next time, but it’s been a constant battle. It’s evident. I know what needs to be done. Just got to do it.”
J.J. Hardy had his first career three-error game. Before tonight, his only multi-error game occurred on June 6, 2007 versus the Cubs.
“Nobody in this clubhouse thinks twice about it other than J.J. because he’s as good a shortstop. .. It’s an honor to watch him play every night and I’m blessed to have had him pass my way, so we don’t give that two thoughts,” Showalter said.
“He made some plays after the fact that a lot of people... Tough field, real fast. A lot of tweener hops. It’s adjustments that everybody has to make. J.J., we’re lucky to have him and I don’t think twice about that.”
Hardy had one error on the season before tonight.
“Yeah, I definitely want to forget about it,” he said. “A couple of throwing errors, a fielding error. If Caleb (Joseph) didn’t made a nice pick on that last one, it would have been four errors. That’s just a night for me I’d like to forget.
“I had to kind of make a quick throw on (Rougned Odor), a quick backhand in the hole. I just kind of threw it too low. And the next one I can’t explain. I just missed it.”
Strange sight, indeed.
“I’m very surprised,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington. “He catches everything he can get to. I’ve never seen him make a bad throw. Matter of fact, I’ve really never seen him make an error.”
The Orioles went 5-5 on the trip. They’re ready to go home.
“It’s not like you’re getting home and taking a good rest,” he said. “We’re going to get to bed at 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning and cold jock the game. And I think more than anything these are the times you really look forward to having some friendly faces and people pulling for you.
“We’ve been the victim of some road crowds like we all have and our guys have handled it real well, and we’ve played some good teams. One of the best teams in the National League and a team that’s perennially... And then we go home to some of the best teams in baseball, so no rest for the weary. That’s part of it.”
Said Hardy: “It’s been a long road trip and it’s felt like a really long road trip, so yeah, it’ll be nice to get back home.
“I guess it definitely could have been worse. We ran into a couple of hot teams in Milwaukee and Houston. Tonight hurts, but 5-5 is not terrible.”