BALTIMORE — With Tampa Bay lefty Matt Moore taking the hill against the Orioles on Wednesday night, manager Buck Showalter has altered his regular lineup in the second game of the series.
Switch-hitter Alexi Casilla will start at second base instead of Ryan Flaherty, but Nate McLouth will remain in left field in lieu of Steve Pearce earning the start as the designated hitter and Nolan Reimold moving to the outfield. In a small sample size of just two starts, Moore has actually allowed more hits to lefty bats (2-for-11) than right-handed hitters (1-for-24) and can struggle with his command against left-handed hitters. In his brief career that began in 2011, Moore is allowing right-handers to bat .229 while lefties are .238 against him.
Moore hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 1/3 innings this season, but the 23-year-old has also walked eight batters, including six in his last start against Texas. Patience will be the theme for the approach at the plate for Orioles hitters.
With the Orioles schedule to face left-handed starters in each of the next two games following Wednesday’s tilt, Showalter didn’t want McLouth to sit for an extended period but said Pearce will be in the starting lineup on Thursday against Rays ace David Price. However, Casilla figures to see action in each of the next three games with Flaherty off to a 2-for-28 start this season.
Pitchers Steve Johnson and Tsuyoshi Wada will each throw in Sarasota on Thursday with the former expected to join a minor-league club on either a rehab assignment or an option if all goes well. The right-hander will throw four innings while Wada will toss three as he continues to make his way back from last year’s Tommy John surgery.
Despite rumors of the Orioles being interested in Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon, the 27-year-old was place on waivers this afternoon as Texas’ asking price was apparently too steep. The left-handed hitting outfielder provides good speed, but he wouldn’t appear to be a dramatic upgrade over current reserve Chris Dickerson, making it unsurprising that the Orioles weren’t willing to meet the Rangers’ demand.
Now, we’ll wait to see if the Orioles put in a claim and, more importantly, are successful in acquiring him.
The struggles of reliever Pedro Strop were also a topic of discussion prior to the second game of the series. Showalter was quick to remind everyone how successful the right-handed power arm was prior to his late-season struggles a year ago.
Strop allowed two home runs in the eighth inning and is sporting a 10.80 earned run average in six appearances covering five innings. Of course, the Orioles were forced to use five relievers with starter Jake Arrieta lasting only five innings in the series opener.
“I think he’s going to do some good things for us this year,” said Showalter, who noted that Strop hadn’t pitched since Friday and wanted to give him some work. “He already has. He’s gotten some big outs already; last night wasn’t one of them. It was a pretty long chain there because we only got five innings out of our starter.”
Showalter was asked about Tuesday’s incident in which first baseman Chris Davis broke his bat over his knee after striking out, which instantly became an internet hit. The Baltimore manager clearly didn’t want to make a big deal about it, but Showalter didn’t sound as though he wanted to see a repeat performance of the move Bo Jackson made famous in the 1980s.
“I’d just like to be able to do it myself,” said Showalter before answering more seriously. “What are you going to do? It’s risky. I think I’d be more inclined [to say], ‘Let’s do something that kept us from being that mad. Maybe you can take that pitch.’ He’s not the first guy or the last guy [to do it].”
Regardless of Showalter’s feelings, here’s another look at Davis’ bat-break, courtesy of Cork Gaines:
Here are Wednesday’s lineups…
RF Nick Markakis
3B Manny Machado
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
SS J.J. Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
DH Nolan Reimold
2B Alexi Casilla
SP Chris Tillman (0-0, 7.00 ERA)
CF Desmond Jennings
2B Kelly Johnson
RF Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
DH Shelley Duncan
1B James Loney
C Jose Molina
SS Yunel Escobar
SP Matt Moore (2-0, 0.00 ERA)