ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter wondered today whether the media would offer up another question about the lineup. We didn’t go there.
What else is there to ask about Adam Jones’ exclusion from it?
Jones is expected to play in the series against the Athletics that starts Tuesday night at Camden Yards. He’s got to feel rested after sitting out the current series against the Rays that’s sandwiched between two off-days.
Showalter confirmed that Alex Cobb will make Tuesday night’s start. The light throwing session yesterday afternoon didn’t open up the cut on Cobb’s right middle finger. He threw a bullpen session before today’s game.
“The problem is, playing catch can irritate it, but we’re giving him a couple extra days. Same way with Andrew (Cashner), so right now Alex and Andrew are going to pitch the first two days and we’ll see where we are on Thursday,” Showalter said.
The Orioles will try to avoid being swept in their 18th completed series of two or more games. Their 101 losses are seven more than the Royals have accumulated this year.
Showalter checks on his players to make certain that a season with such extreme disappointments and struggles isn’t having an adverse effect on them. He’s also careful to avoid passing harsh judgments based strictly on performances over the final month.
“Without a doubt. I’ve thought about that,” he said.
“You’ve heard me talk a lot about spring and fall being a great fooler and you can actually make a lot of mistakes on players negatively in something like this,” he said. “Nothing is never as bad as it seems. It’s never as good as it seems. Somewhere in between that. So, instead of casting a negative blanket over everything, there’s some things, you’ve got to keep that in mind. You really do.
“It’s something you look for. Everybody’s morale is challenged. Your whole life you’ve lived in an arena where you’re competing and trying to win the game. Herm Edwards, I was thinking about him last night watching that (Arizona State) football game. It’s what we do. We play to win the game. So, it is something you have to at least be aware of.
“I think there’s a lot of, I call it a negative feeding frenzy and a positive feeding frenzy. You’ve got to be careful about drinking too much of that Kool-Aid on either side.”
Showalter spoke to Jonathan Villar about the ill-advised decision last night to break for third base with two outs in the first inning and Chris Davis, a left-handed hitter, at the plate. Villar was thrown out at third for the second time since joining the Orioles.
Villar referenced his mistake multiple times while talking to the media. He already knew that he messed up before his conversation with Showalter.
“He came up to Chris and then he came up to Bobby (Dickerson),” Showalter said. “It’s all about timing. There’s an element there that we need, but it has to be smart aggressiveness.”
Villar swiped second base twice later in the night and had a two-run single.
“I said, ‘You know what I like about you? You made a mistake that you know you made, but you get to first base four or five innings later and you don’t go into a shell and afraid to make mistakes and stole second base.’ That tells you about somebody a little bit. He knows what he’s good at,” Showalter said.
“He’s going to make some mistakes, but at 27 and a guy that stole 60 bases in the big leagues, if you start putting a complete muffler or a governor as we called it back home on him, then you’re taking away what he can bring.
“I know what it’s like when somebody on the other club, if you know they’re going to push the envelope and stuff, it makes guys ... it’s an element that we needed more here. I want Joey (Rickard) to be more of a risk-taker some. Sometimes, you can get too safe here. And professional athletes make mistakes when the game speeds up in any sport. That’s where they make their mistakes. And the really good players don’t. They slow the game down.
“(J.J.) Hardy was great at, when the game sped up he was able to slow it down. Austin (Wynns) is going through that some. When the game speeds up, how do you slow it down?”
The Orioles were tagged with four unearned runs in the first inning and there were other poorly executed plays that bothered Showalter and his staff, including a botched rundown that allowed Willy Adames to cross the plate before the final out was recorded.
“When I talked after the game about errors, and we don’t have times to talk about which ones there are, that’s one,” Showalter said. “That’s decisions, that’s baseball decisions that we’ve been a lot better at in the past and we have to be better at.
“A ball down in the corner and we turn a simple double into a triple by the way we attack it. That’s a base error, that’s a 90-foot error. So, they don’t always show up in an error column, they don’t always show up in a run-scored column. But even if you get away with it, you pay a penalty because your pitcher throws to two more hitters maybe that he shouldn’t have to throw to, and now someone’s having to pitch an inning earlier. Maybe having to expose a guy that shouldn’t be pitching in that situation. Maybe you’re exposing a right-handed pitcher to a left-handed hitter.
“Everything has cause and effect and most of it revolves around defense. That’s the thing that analytics just can’t show you is the game within the game and when the game speeds up, can you slow it back down?”
The instruction in spring training with so much turnover on the roster will be critical - whoever is in charge of it.
“There’s so many different players here,” Showalter said. “There’s a first and third defense that we really can’t run with the experience of the personnel. There’s a bunt defense. There’s a lot of different things, but we’re not giving in. We’re going to keep trying to teach the game the way it needs to be played for us to win.”
Update: Josh Rogers allowed five runs in the first inning, the last three on Brandon Lowe’s homer, and the Orioles trail 5-0.
Update II: Rogers is charged with six runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Mallex Smith scored on a double steal for a 6-0 lead.
Update III: Carlos Gomez homered off Jimmy Yacabonis in the sixth inning for a 7-0 lead. The Orioles scored three runs in the seventh on Jace Peterson’s two-run triple and Caleb Joseph’s sacrifice fly.
Update IV: The Rays completed the sweep with an 8-3 win over the Orioles.
Tommy Pham had an RBI double off Miguel Castro in the eighth. Joey Rickard committed an error in right field.
The Orioles went 1-8 on the road trip while lowering their overall record to 41-102.