With Matt Wieters catching last night’s series opener against the Red Sox, Caleb Joseph figures to set the target tonight for starter Wei-Yin Chen. Wieters will serve as the designated hitter unless manager Buck Showalter strays from the script.
Joseph remains fifth in All-Star voting among American League catchers. He still finds it hard to comprehand that he’s on the ballot, let alone that he’s received 400,802 votes.
“It’s an honor just to be on the ballot, for sure, but I’m not naive enough to not understand why,” he said, referencing the elbow surgery that kept Wieters from making his 2015 debut until last Friday.
“Wiety’s the guy and there’s a really good chance that if he started the season, his name is on there. Is it really honoring? Sure, of course, but I know the circumstances dictated that. I appreciate the support from probably a lot of Orioles fans, and there are probably a lot of people in Nashville, Tenn., who are logging on, but I don’t want to come across saying it’s to be expected. I understand the circumstances involved with it. But it really is an honor.
“It seems like this time last year I was just getting my first full month in the big leagues and still unsure of a lot of things. Then a year later, just to be on an All-Star ballot is pretty cool.”
Joseph doesn’t check the weekly updates from Major League Baseball and laughs at the suggestion that he might want to take a peek. If he did, he’d find that the Royals’ Salvador Perez is first with 4,419,620 votes.
“No, I just get a couple picture messages here and there from people back home or emails with updated standings, but I’m not looking at that thing every other hour to see if I’m creeping up by any means,” Joseph said. “The focus is just on trying to get this team on track and start winning a lot of games in a row.”
Wieters is batting .375/.353/.750 with a double, a triple, a home run and three RBIs in four games since coming off the disabled list.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to actually play with him during the season,” Joseph said. “It kind of seems weird. Last year was good, but it’s different when he’s engaged in the game, when he’s playing in the game. I think he wanted to be a part last year, but being away for a long time, it was not as easy to share his opinion and full knowledge. I don’t think he wanted to be that guy who came in here and started telling us what to do - me and Nick (Hundley). Nick had some service time. But this year, even in the three or four days that he’s been around, I’m loving it.
“Being able to really hear a guy and watch a guy really go to work, it’s totally different. I saw him go to work on his rehab and stuff last year, but going to work for real games is a little different. It’s somebody I want to emulate because he has all the respect in the world in this clubhouse and he’s earned it. That’s what I hope to be later on down the line in my career, six or seven years in, to be a guy that people trust like they trust Matt. He’s a perfect guy to have here each and every day to ask questions. ‘What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ And those kinds of conversations are priceless.
“You can have them with coaches all day long, but with somebody who you truly trust who has the experience and is in the fight with you on a daily basis, it’s totally different. Seeing the same pitchers against the same hitters, it’s really good. And he’s a stable bat in the middle of the lineup for us and he’s obviously a leader behind the plate, a great catcher. Oh yeah, we’re all excited. I’m one of the most excited guys to have him on our team, for sure. I mean, he makes us better. No doubt about it.”
Wieters pounced on Rusney Castillo’s attempted sacrifice bunt last night in the eighth inning and fired to third base to force Dustin Pedroia. He had some serious heat on that ball. You’d never know that was coming back from ligament-reconstructive surgery on his elbow.
“I thought about it,” Showalter said, smiling. “Said, ‘I guess his arm is OK.’ We wouldn’t have him here, wouldn’t be playing him if we didn’t think it was OK.
“It’s always tempting to write him in there (tonight), but we’re lucky to have Caleb.”
Wieters is 4-for-13 with a double against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who takes the mound tonight. The current Orioles are batting .306 against him.
J.J. Hardy is 8-for-20 (.400), Delmon Young is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles and a home run, Chris Davis is 6-for-23 (.261) with a double and three home runs, Jimmy Paredes is 4-for-7 with a home run and Ryan Flaherty is 3-for-7 with a home run.
Travis Snider is 2-for-13 (.154).
Porcello is making his third start against the Orioles this season, going 0-1 with a no-decision. He’s allowed 12 runs and 18 hits in 11 innings. Porcello is 3-6 with a 5.21 ERA in 11 career starts against the Orioles and 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts at Camden Yards.
Chen has allowed two earned runs (seven total) and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings in two starts against the Red Sox this season, also going 0-1 with a no-decision. He’s 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 13 career starts against them.
Chen has registered seven quality starts out of 11 outings this season, but he’s 1-4 with a 3.18 ERA. He’s surrendered at least one home run in five consecutive starts.
Pedroia is 15-for-32 (.469) with five doubles and a triple against Chen. David Ortiz is 8-for-26 (.308) with a double and home run. Mike Napoli is only 5-for-21 (.238), but that includes a double and three home runs.
The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 1-0 last night, with the only run scoring on a wild pitch. The last time they beat Boston 1-0 with no RBIs was April 9, 1976 (opening day), when Lee May crossed the plate on Fred Lynn’s throwing error following a Bobby Grich single.
The Orioles have won nine games in series history by a 1-0 score, the most recent before last night coming on Sept. 24, 2000 at Fenway Park. It hadn’t been done in Baltimore since the 1976 opening day win.