PHOENIX - One important aspect of the job as a baseball beat writer is reading too much into everything. Ignore the warnings, lower your head and run with it.
Left-hander Tanner Scott works a career-high three innings in relief Saturday night and I’m going to assume that the Orioles are stretching him out rather than viewing him as only a back-end power arm and matchup guy.
That’s not necessarily the case.
The Orioles were battered by the Red Sox, giving up a season-high 17 runs and using a position player to pitch for the fifth time. Stevie Wilkerson was only the second-most effective reliever that night.
Scott shut out the Red Sox on one hit after the Orioles removed him from the taxi squad and recalled him earlier in the day. The upper-90s fastball and slider were wicked. The game no longer was spiraling out of control.
The Orioles optioned Scott after his two scoreless innings on June 29. He also worked two in back-to-back appearances in April.
Whether he’s getting outs can dictate how long he stays on the mound. And there are other circumstances, as manager Brandon Hyde pointed out while explaining why Scott kept pitching Saturday night.
Don’t assume that he’s primed for long relief or necessarily an option to back up an opener. Or that his background as a starter in the minors could expand his role.
I’ll do it as part of my job. And have my theory gently shot down.
“I’m not sure about that,” Hyde said. “I think that Tanner’s going to be a back-end left-on-left, just a power left-handed reliever. The stretch out was because we didn’t have anybody that I wanted to throw, to be honest with you, in that situation. And he was fresh and had just gotten here, so he picked us up with three great innings.”
Hyde preaches the importance of his pitchers seizing an opportunity that might not be available on other teams. Of commanding the ball. How it’s no longer about stuff. The Orioles need to see consistent results.
Scott and Jimmy Yacabonis are riding the shuttle to and from Triple-A Norfolk. Scott turned in an exceptional outing against the Red Sox after nine of 10 batters reached against Yacabonis, who was charged with seven runs.
“It’s just consistency with all these guys,” Hyde said. “That’s why their numbers look the way they look, because some nights they have lights-out stuff and some nights they struggle to get through the lineup.
“It’s really up to them at this point. It’s time for them to take the bull by the horns and say, ‘I need to figure something out to get more consistent.’ Obviously, we’ve been helping them along the way and they’ve shown flashes of being major league bullpen pieces. But then there’s other nights where they struggle, so it’s finding consistency. They’ve got to be able to do that to stay in this league.
“Tanner’s in that same boat where lights-out and has great stuff and now it’s just finding consistency with it.”
Branden Kline hopped aboard the shuttle late last night. The Orioles optioned him again after his 2 1/3 scoreless innings. The corresponding move will be announced later today.