The Orioles have reached another open date on their schedule, giving them a free day in Boston to load up on chowder and expensive haircuts.
(I haven’t forgotten mine. Next time, take the offer of a glass of champagne while you wait as a clue that the cost is going to reach triple figures - without tip.)
The Orioles are 36-33 and three games out of first place. Last season, they were 35-34 and five games out of first place after a 5-4 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
* The Orioles will break their streak of optioning the previous day’s starting pitcher. Chris Tillman is out of options. He isn’t going anywhere. Fans suggesting that he’s “got to go” need to come up with a solution. Move him to the bullpen or designate him for assignment after what he’s done the past few seasons? Or just take him for a long ride in the country, push him out the door and speed away? What are you suggesting here?
* Tillman went into yesterday’s start averaging 4.6 walks per nine innings. He didn’t issue a free pass yesterday, but he lasted only 1 1/3 innings and was charged with six runs and six hits. At least the walks haven’t robbed Tillman of his sense of humor. He stood at his locker a few weeks ago, tossed something into a trash can, turned to me with a smile and said, “I’m finally hitting my target.”
* As for Kevin Gausman, I get it. The Orioles need an open spot in the rotation and they were able to bring up an extra reliever against the Blue Jays. But at what point do they give him the ball every five days, step back and see what he does? Definitely to open the 2016 season, but he still has a good chance to start later this summer. The Orioles just need an injury or a trade.
* It’s interesting how the strategy has changed with Gausman. The previous concern was limiting his innings early to keep him available later in the season. Now it’s making sure he builds up his innings so he can be slotted into the rotation. That’s why manager Buck Showalter doesn’t want him in the bullpen unless it’s absolutely necessary, and why I kept saying he would start against the Blue Jays after coming off the disabled list. Pitch every fifth day at Triple-A Norfolk until the Orioles find room for him.
* Going into yesterday’s game, Chris Davis was batting .286/.313/.508 against left-handers and .197/.311/.428 against right-handers. Davis had a Phil Coke and a smile, homering off the lefty to reduce the Blue Jays’ lead to 9-8. Four of Davis’ 15 homers have come off southpaws.
* I keep saying Jimmy Paredes can’t afford to go cold again at the plate with the Orioles having so many difficult roster decisions. He had three hits yesterday, including a three-run homer, and is batting .305. He has 12 hits in his last nine games.
* Travis Snider is a popular choice among fans to be designated for assignment, but he had two more hits yesterday and is 15-for-50 with nine RBIs this month. He’s also under team control in 2016, one reason why the Orioles wanted him last winter.
* Wondering why Nolan Reimold pinch-hit for Snider in the ninth inning yesterday against left-hander Brett Cecil? Reimold bats from the right side, of course, but he’s also 5-for-14 lifetime against Cecil. He drew a walk and later scored on Ryan Flaherty’s two-run triple. Snider was 0-for-1 against Cecil.
* Flaherty had two career triples in 680 at-bats heading into this season. He’s collected three triples this month. I’m not good at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s more.
* Chaz Roe lowered his ERA to 0.98 in 18 1/3 innings. He’s walked six and struck out 20. And I no longer wonder what the heck he’s doing in a close game in the late innings. He’s one of the more fascinating stories of the 2015 season. He’s also not the type to spend triple figures on a haircut.
* Darren O’Day also lowered his ERA to 0.98 and won for the second time in two days. He’s 4-0 this season and 21-6 with the Orioles. He’s a pending free agent, and we know how some teams are willing to spend big on non-closers. That’s not the Orioles’ philosophy.
* I’m constantly asked whether the Orioles will trade some of their pending free agents at the non-waiver deadline, including Davis, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and catcher Matt Wieters. Not if the team is in contention. The idea is to win it all in 2015, not worry about expiring contracts. The Orioles will be buyers again. Get ready to worry about more minor leaguers blossoming in a new organization.
* Someone explain to me why Major League Baseball allows umpire reviews after a manager is out of challenges. The challenge limit is meaningless. The manager comes out and says, “Hey, I know I’m out of challenges, but could you please take a look at that one?” And the umpires always go along with it. Just once I’d like the crew chief to say, “Look Gibbons, you’ve been out here every half inning. Do you get paid by the field visit? Sit down.”
* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t see the Orioles carrying a Rule 5 pitcher next season with Dylan Bundy out of minor league options. Ready or not, he may be placed in the bullpen if unable to win a spot in the rotation. Meanwhile, he’s still shut down with right shoulder inflammation after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection.
* The Orioles are 2-0 with Mychal Givens in the bullpen. Marinate in that one for a while.