ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Maybe the sky isn’t falling.
It’s hard to tell inside a dome.
The Orioles were swept in The Bronx, but they also took two of three from the Tigers and Rays to move within a game of the .500 mark. However, they failed to gain any ground on the Yankees.
Wei-Yin Chen allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings and the bullpen tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-2 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles scored five or more runs in consecutive games for the first time since June 21-22.
Caleb Joseph hit a two-run homer. Nolan Reimold had three hits and two RBIs, but he also overran a ball near the right field line and got in a rundown between third and home after running through a stop sign. More on that later.
Here’s a sampling of quotes before I race to the Tampa airport to catch my flight home:
Manager Buck Showalter on winning the last two games: “We keep talking about it. You can’t wallow around in self-pity. There’s too many challenges. This team has been as consistent as anybody in our division, so if you come in here with any woe is me, you’re going to get it handed to you. We won two of the three series played on the road. Obviously, we had two one-run games in New York that we weren’t able to cross over because of how good they were at the end of the game. I thought we pitched pretty well today, especially the bullpen. We had some guys who needed work today. Darren (O’Day) got back on the horse.”
Showalter on Chen: “He was good. He was pitching with his fastball for three or four innings. We talk about it all the time. When he’s got some depth with his breaking ball and whatever and when he went to it, he was able to get out of a couple situations. I think he’s a little frustrated at himself for not being able to finish there, or maybe he’s just frustrated at me. We got some good innings out of the bullpen and he got a well-deserved win. He was pitching as good as you can see anybody pitch.”
Showalter on whether it was tempting to keep Chen in the game at 86 pitches: “Tempting? No. It really wasn’t. I thought that was about where he should be. It really matched up. I knew they were going to go left-handed there and it just set up well for us the rest of the game, too.”
Showalter on whether he’s more encouraged by the offense: “I’m always encouraged. I always think today’s the day we’re going to get back to our track record a little bit. We’re scoring more runs than they score after 27 outs and that’s the whole deal. And if get involved in this means that and that means this ... I know it’s how we evaluate a lot of things numerically, but there’s so much more to it than that. It’s a mindset. It’s a test of your will sometimes when you’ve got a lot of people telling you the sky is falling and it’s not.”
Showalter on how he’ll reflect on road trip: “I put it behind me. We’re headed for Atlanta. I don’t get into that deep, this means that and that means that and that means this. If we get a well-pitched game tomorrow from our starter, we’ll have some fun tomorrow.”
Showalter on Reimold ball in right field: “They scored that a hit? They scored that a hit? That was an error all the way. That wasn’t even close.”
Showalter on evaluating Reimold’s day: “I don’t. We’ll talk about it. We already have and we’ll move on. You can’t dwell on those things. It’s hard to do. I think he told Bobby (Dickerson) he had a misstep going and he looked down at the bag to make sure, and by the time he looked up, he figured out (Dickerson) had put a stop sign up. But he did some good things, three hits today. We talked about how some things will go our way, too. People hitting chalk lines and hitting bags. Nolan had two broken-bat singles, we had two duck flares that trickled through a shift, so we had some things go our way, too.”
Chen, through his interpreter, on his day: “In the first couple innings, I felt great and I was just trying to stay the same pace. But later on, I think the Rays hitters made some adjustment and hit better and better against me.”
Chen on whether he was surprised he came out of the game: “I wouldn’t say surprised, because this is baseball and anything could happen. I was just trying to do my job.”
Chen on why he looked angry coming off the mound: “I was taken out of the game because I allowed a couple runners to get on base. Anybody will be angry when you get taken out of the game in that situation. But that’s not something I can control and I will just accept it.”
Chen on the offensive support: “I don’t have to worry that much, I can just focus on my pitching and focus on getting every hitter out. Today we won because every hitter did their job and our bullpen did great today. It was a team effort.”
Reimold on his first three-hit game since 2012: “It felt good. It was good to get the feel, get a couple hits and contribute to the offense and hopefully bring it in to the next game. I think Atlanta has a few lefties, so it’s good to get a couple hits and hopefully carry it over to the next game.”
Reimold on road trip: “We didn’t play very well in New York, so it was good to bounce back and get a series win. We lost a tough one the first night, so I think it was a good way to bounce back and finish the road trip and finish the series. Two wins here and two out of three series wins. You can look at it positively like that, but you’ve got to be consistent and we could have played better in New York.”
Reimold on couple plays he’d like to have back: “Absolutely. It looks a lot worse than it is, that play down the line. It’s not an excuse. It needed to be caught. Chen really got out of a jam and got me out of a jam, so I appreciate him doing that, bearing down and getting some guys out. I’m glad that didn’t come back to cost us a couple runs that inning.
Reimold on the stop sign: “It was a mistake. I was thinking when I saw the ball go in the gap, I was just putting my head down running. By the time I looked up, it was too late. It was a mental lapse. Things like that can’t happen. I’m glad we won because then I’d feel a lot worse if we didn’t win.”
Reimold on the fly ball: “When you start breaking down, there’s two rows of lights. So when I started breaking down, it was in the lights a couple times and I just didn’t judge it correctly and it was off. I’d like to have that one back, but I’m glad I got a couple hits, but I’ve got to play good defense.”
Joseph on Chen’s struggles after retiring first 11 batters: “Sometimes you’ve get a five-run lead, you get deeper in the game and you kind of put it on cruise control sometimes. It’s not necessarily intentional. You just are starting to have success and just a loss of focus. It happens a lot when you’re hitting the ball real well. You’re hitting .350, one at-bat here and there, it kind of doesn’t matter, but you give up a couple of hits and kind of lose a little control here and there, and before you know it, you’re behind the eight ball. He worked out of some jams early on, too. First couple of innings he was working out of some really tough jams there. He was in high pressure situations making high pressure pitches and he did a good job keeping us in the game there.”
Joseph on relaxed atmosphere in clubhouse: “Definitely. I think a lot of it has to do with the preparation before the game, too. There’s quite a few guys who have been in that situation before. I think back, there’s a lot of guys on that team that were on that 2012 team that came down to the very last day. They didn’t lose it or win on whatever today’s day is, July whatever, so there’s a lot of preparation going into it knowing that we need to get wins. But at the same time you’ve got to trust the process and continue to do what we need to do baseball-wise, and then going out and starting early on and performing well is always a good sign for our club.”
Joseph on road trip: “You want to go out and win every single game. I think coming back and being able to win two out of three against a good Tampa team, they’re right in the thick of it, fighting just like we are. To be able to take two out three after we lose three to the Yankees, we’ve got to keep fighting, we’ve got to keep grinding. One game isn’t going to derail the thing right now. We’ve got to keep going at it. If we lose, we’ve got to pick it up and play again tomorrow. These games are starting to get important, but we can’t put too much emphasis on it where we go in tight and go in squeezing the bat too hard and gripping the ball too hard. We’ve just got to keep playing our game.”