A combination of factors allowed outfielder Joey Rickard to make it back to Baltimore.
The desire to have a four-man bench. The reduced need for a second left-handed reliever. Opposing left-handed starters the next two games. And most important, Rickard’s scorching stretch at Triple-A Norfolk.
The former Rule 5 pick batted .345/.456/.473 with five doubles, one triple and 10 RBIs in 16 games with the Tides. He went 5-for-5 on April 20 and 3-for-5 on April 23 and he reached base in all 15 games with a plate appearance.
“You like to say ‘I told you so’ sometimes, but they control it,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He didn’t get off to a great start. I think a lot of it had to do with the cold weather. But he’s been a real force for them down there the last couple of weeks. It’s been fun to watch. We’re glad to get him back here and reward him for what he did. Very much like Pedro (Álvarez) did last year.”
Rickard failed to break camp with the Orioles after going 5-for-33 with 10 strikeouts in Grapefruit League games. They optioned him on March 14.
“Spring’s a big fooler one way or the other,” Showalter said. “We all know what Joey’s capable of. You want to see him take that next step.
“You come into that as a Rule 5 guy, you’re playing with house money. You’re playing with your hair on fire, you’re letting it rip with nothing to lose, then all of a sudden you come in and you’re competing knowing that the tie-breaker may be the option, where before you’re always going to win the tie-breaker. I think it was a little bit different mindset there. You’re trying to get three hits the first game.
“I’ve said it a lot to the guys that once they kind of step back, take a deep breath, ‘OK, where’s my lot right now?’ If you don’t wallow around in self-pity about it, you control it. And he controlled it and he’s back here now. See how it works out in the future.”
“One of the things that Tanner hasn’t gone yet is pitch back-to-back,” Showalter said. “Not that I look at Tanner as a pure left on left guy. I think he’s got a chance to be more than that. But if you look at the rosters of Detroit and Anaheim and even Oakland ... it’s unusual for Oakland to be that dominant right-handed.
“I’ve never seen so many lineups in the American League that are so right-handed dominant. Even looking at the draft and stuff, left-handed hitters are really hard to find. I don’t know why.”
Chris Davis is out of the lineup tonight against Tigers left-hander Francisco Liriano, but he’s fine physically and expected to start Sunday afternoon against southpaw Daniel Norris.
“Just give him a day,” Showalter said.
Davis is batting .167/.257/.256 with two home runs, six RBIs, 10 walks and 33 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances. He’s 4-for-24 with nine strikeouts in his last six games.
Davis is 1-for-18 against left-handers this season. He homered off CC Sabathia in the Bronx. He’s 3-for-11 with a home run and seven strikeouts against Liriano.
Tim Beckham, who underwent surgery earlier this week to repair tears on both sides of his groin, will accompany Jonathan Schoop on Sunday’s flight to Sarasota. Schoop could come off the disabled list May 8.
Mark Trumbo is starting in right field again for Norfolk after going 2-for-5 with two RBIs last night in Charlotte.
Update: Andrew Cashner threw 20 pitches in the top of the first inning and allowed a run on a leadoff walk and singles by Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos. The Tigers hadn’t scored in 22 innings.
Update II: Leonys Martin had an RBI single in the second inning and Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer to right field to give Detroit a 5-0 lead. Cashner struck out the side and he’s up to 46 pitches.
Update III: The Tigers scored twice in the fourth to increase their lead to 7-0, with one run unearned after Danny Valencia’s error that allowed Dixon Machado to reach second base. Cabrera lined a two-run double to left, the ball getting past a diving Craig Gentry.
Update IV: Anthony Santander led off the fifth with his first major league triple and scored on Gentry’s grounder to reduce the lead to 7-1.
Update V: Pedro Araujo gave up a run in the seventh while working a career-high 2 2/3 innings, but the Orioles scored four in the bottom half to reduce the lead to 8-5. Chance Sisco was hit with the bases loaded, Jace Peterson walked with the bases loaded and Manny Machado grounded a two-run single into center field.
Update VI: Victor Martinez homered on the first pitch thrown by Darren O’Day in the ninth to give Detroit a 9-5 lead.