Tag Archive | "Buck Showalter"

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Chen not pleased with temporary demotion to Single-A Frederick

Posted on 16 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Needing to make room for outfielder Chris Parmelee and never unwilling to be creative with their roster management, the Orioles optioned starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to Single-A Frederick on Tuesday.

And the Taiwanese lefty wasn’t pleased with the news.

Manager Buck Showalter cited a desire to keep Chen fresh less than 24 hours after he pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night. However, Chen’s next outing was scheduled to come against the Toronto Blue Jays, who have hammered left-handed pitching to the tune of a .313 batting average and an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage.

“Before his last outing, not this one, he was complaining of just some overall body fatigue,” Showalter said. “We’ve tried to take a little break with everybody during the year. And he’ll get an extra day. He may not even take a work day. We’ll shorten up his outing at Frederick.”

The Baltimore skipper said Chen “completely” understood the decision, but the 29-year-old posted on his official Twitter account that he was fine from a physical standpoint, which doesn’t exactly jive with Showalter’s description of how he was feeling after his outing on June 10. Chen rarely posts anything on his Twitter account with his last activity coming on May 13.

Chen is expected to return from the minor leagues on June 26 to start against Cleveland, the first day he is eligible to return after the 10-day minimum. He is scheduled to pitch three or four innings for the Keys on Saturday.

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Chen is scheduled to become a free agent after the season and is represented by super agent Scott Boras, who can’t like seeing a veteran starter with a 2.89 ERA sent to the minors a day after his best start of the season.

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Showalter changes tune on 2015 All-Star Game voting

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — A couple days after saying he had no issue with the All-Star Game voting process and the number of Kansas City Royals currently leading at their positions, Buck Showalter changed his tune with the latest update was released on Monday afternoon.

With eight Royals players currently slated to start for the American League in the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the Orioles manager offered his theory on the voting results thus far.

“What do they have, a virus in the computer or something?” Showalter said. “It’s got to be, right? It’s got to be a virus in the computer. Really?”

Manny Machado and Adam Jones each rank fifth at their respective positions while Los Angeles Angels outfielder and reigning AL Most Valuable Player Mike Trout is the only non-Royals player who would be in the starting lineup — he’s second behind Lorenzo Cain and ahead of third-place holder Alex Gordon in AL outfielder voting — if voting were to end today. Jones ranks fifth behind Kansas City’s Alex Rios who’s played all of 18 games after signing with the Royals in the offseason.

No other Orioles players appeared in the latest update.

Understanding the Royals have several talented players worthy of All-Star consideration, Showalter took strong exception to the light-hitting Omar Infante leading the way at second base.

“What’s he hitting now, .204?” Showalter said. “He must be having a heck of a defensive year.”

This is the first year in which fans have voted exclusively online with paper ballots no longer being distributed at ballparks. The Royals-heavy results have prompted many to ask if the voting process needs to be revamped to more closely resemble the NFL’s Pro Bowl, which splits the vote evenly among fans, coaches, and players.

Showalter said over the weekend that he’d like to see home-field advantage for the World Series determined by clubs’ regular-season records and not by the winner of the All-Star Game.

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Orioles preparing to call up Parmelee from Triple-A Norfolk

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Mulling ways to improve their corner outfield situation, the Orioles are preparing to select the contract of Chris Parmelee from Triple-A Norfolk as early as Tuesday.

The 2006 first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins joined the Orioles in Baltimore prior to the series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, but manager Buck Showalter confirmed he would not be activated for Monday’s game. Parmelee had a June 15 opt-out clause in the minor-league contract he signed with the club in the offseason and had already extended it once earlier this season.

Seeing time at both corner outfield spots as well as at first base with the Tides, the 27-year-old was hitting .316 with six home runs, 32 RBIs, 13 doubles, and an .826 on-base plus slugging percentage in 265 plate appearances this season. Parmelee was a career .249 hitter with 24 homers, 85 RBIs, and a .709 OPS in 901 plate appearances for the Twins over four major league seasons.

“We like him. He’s having as good of a year as anybody in Triple A for our team and for the other teams,” Showalter said. “He’s played the outfield well and first base. He can do a lot of things.”

Parmelee was in the clubhouse and took batting practice, but he was not permitted to be in the dugout during Monday’s game.

The Orioles hope he can offer some offensive production from the left side of the plate that they haven’t received from lefty outfielders Travis Snider and David Lough so far this season. It will be interesting to see how the club makes room for him on the 25-man roster since Snider, Lough, and Steve Pearce are all out of minor-league options.

Parmelee hopes the success he had in the International League will translate to helping the Orioles continue their recent winning ways.

“I’m just trying to stay as consistent as possible,” Parmelee said. “It goes from the routine in the cage and coming out and running every day and having a routine and staying with it. Staying positive is one of the most important things. The decision was made, and I’m happy to be here.”

Schoop back in Baltimore

Returning from a lengthy stint at extended spring training in Sarasota, second baseman Jonathan Schoop was back on the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday afternoon, fielding grounders and taking batting practice.

Schoop has been sidelined with a right knee injury for the last two months, but he is currently scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment at Double-A Bowie on Friday.

“That was encouraging. That was fun to watch,” said Showalter of Schoop’s on-field workout. “He looks good. He should. He was pretty excited to get out of [Florida].”

Schoop has received plenty of at-bats in extended spring games, but the last hurdle to clear for the 23-year-old was decelerating when running, according to Showalter. The infielder hadn’t been playing the field in those extended spring games, but vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson traveled to Sarasota last week to work out Schoop to gauge where he was from a physical standpoint.

Simply rejoining his teammates in Baltimore and knowing he’ll be traveling with them to Philadelphia later this week has Schoop excited about his pending return. Showalter has stressed that the Orioles will be cautious in making sure the young infielder is completely ready before activating him from the disabled list.

“I want to play. I feel strong and I’m not thinking about [the knee],” Schoop said. “I feel stronger than before.”

Machado named AL Player of the Week

Third baseman Manny Machado was named American League Player of the Week from June 8-14 while helping the Orioles to a season-high six-game winning streak.

The 22-year-old collected four multi-hit games and batted .458 (11-for-24) with two homers, five RBIs, and a 1.269 OPS. Machado entered Monday’s game sporting an eight-game hitting streak.

“It feels good. It was a good week for the team and it was mostly a team thing,” said Machado of the award. “The team was playing well and we were all hitting well. If it wasn’t for my teammates and my guys being on base, I wouldn’t have been here.”

W. Wright to begin rehab assignment

Left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright will begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Tuesday and is scheduled to pitch one inning for Triple-A Norfolk.

The 30-year-old has been on the disabled list with a left trapezius strain since the first week of the regular season.

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Winning streak helped, but consistency key for Orioles moving forward

Posted on 14 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Even after a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday that snapped a season-high six-game winning streak, there’s a lot to like about the Orioles these days.

At 31-31 with 100 games remaining in the 2015 season, they’re just a game behind their record at this point in 2014 before that club surged in the second half of the season to win 96 games and the American League East title. When Baltimore was six games below .500 less than two weeks ago, players said they weren’t panicking, but even the most positive fans couldn’t help but fear the young season could be spiraling out of control.

Since three straight losses in Houston to start the month, the Orioles have won eight of 10, but manager Buck Showalter never assumed it was just a matter of time before snapping out of the funk. He won’t conclude that everything is just fine moving forward, either.

“It’s never too early to play better baseball,” said Showalter about whether he was worried about the 23-29 start. “It’s not one of those things where you say, ‘It’s just one of those things you’ve got to go through.’ I don’t live in that world. Let’s correct it today, yesterday.”

Those recent corrections have essentially rebooted the season for the Orioles as they’ve won as many as they’ve lost as we sit in mid-June. It may no longer be early, but it’s far from being too late with a month to go until the All-Star break.

A dominating bullpen that allowed only one run over 24 1/3 innings against the Yankees and Boston, superb defense, the return of All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, and an improved offensive attack have been the catalysts for the recent surge, but the Orioles have also received significant contributions from unexpected sources, a familiar theme to the last few seasons of winning baseball in Baltimore. If you had bet at the start of spring training on the oft-injured Nolan Reimold and non-roster invitee Chaz Roe being key cogs in a June hot streak, you probably could have won at least a nickel or two a few months ago.

But contrary to popular belief, Baltimore hasn’t really been firing on all cylinders with the rotation failing to produce a start of at least six innings in eight straight games, making the winning streak even more remarkable. If the bullpen is to continue its run of dominance — a 2.11 ERA in 127 2/3 innings since April 29 — starters need to begin going deeper into games like they did in May, but the Orioles are still enduring the struggles of Chris Tillman and Bud Norris as well as the absence of the injured Miguel Gonzalez.

Rookie Mike Wright was the latest starter with an early exit Sunday as he was lifted from the game after walking the first three hitters of the top of the fifth, which eventually led to three runs and the Yankees taking a 5-3 lead that they never relinquished. It remains unclear whether he will get another start or if the Orioles will turn to the 24-year-old Kevin Gausman, who is primed to come off the 15-day disabled list this coming week.

Recent good karma aside, the Orioles know that consistency is the real key to moving above .500 and in contention in an AL East looking better of late with Tampa Bay continuing to play better-than-expected baseball and Toronto having won 11 straight games with the best offense in the majors by a wide margin.

“I think we’re definitely starting to hit our stride,” said first baseman Chris Davis about taking five of six from Boston and New York to begin the homestand. “That’s big for us to get everybody healthy and get everybody on the field and start playing together. I think that’s what we’ve done the last few games, and we’re just trying to keep the ball rolling.

“We want to be over .500; I think we expect to be over .500. There’s so much emphasis put on the stats and standings and where you are. But right now, the biggest thing for us is to go out there and try to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

The hallmark of Showalter’s winning clubs the last few years has been consistency in regularly winning series and holding their own on the road, the latter being something the Orioles haven’t done so far in 2015 with an 11-18 record away from Camden Yards. The mere fact that the latest six-game winning streak matches the longest of the Showalter era — done two other times since the 59-year-old skipper arrived in 2010 — reflects that success has been more about steady winning and minimizing losing spells rather than roller coaster rides of prosperity or pain.

While the Orioles have excelled in most facets of the game recently, they know there’s still room for improvement — particularly with the rotation of late — if they want to show they’re more like the club we’ve seen over the last 10 games than the inconsistent one on display over the first two months of the season. They have the next 3 1/2 months to prove which one they are.

“There’s no one phase of the game that overpowers it,” Showalter said on Saturday. “You’ve got to be doing a lot of things well. There’s a good crispness to our defense and guys are very alert to try to do things. You know that the teams you play, you’ve got to be on top of your game because there’s a big inning around every corner for them.”

The Orioles were reminded of that the hard way on Sunday, but they still came out of the weekend feeling much better about themselves than they have all season.

Now, the challenge will be keeping the good vibes going in the coming days.

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Orioles recall Wilson to reinforce burdened bullpen

Posted on 14 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Needing to reinforce a bullpen that’s carried a heavy load over the last week, the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson prior to Sunday’s series finale with the New York Yankees.

Despite winning six straight games to move back over the .500 mark, the Orioles have gone seven consecutive games without a starting pitcher completing six innings, which has placed a great burden on the bullpen. Orioles relievers have more than been up to the task — allowing only one run in 19 1/3 innings in the first five games of the current homestand — but manager Buck Showalter can’t continue to ask his bullpen to pitch roughly four innings per contest if he wants the group to remain effective.

To make room for Wilson on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned lefty reliever T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. McFarland had pitched on Friday and Saturday and has been struggling with his command, allowing eight walks in 9 1/3 innings with Baltimore this season. Showalter wants to see the 26-year-old work out of the bullpen with the Tides, focusing on entering in the middle of innings with runners on base.

“We want to get him in the bullpen there and simulating situations he’s coming into here in the middle of an inning,” said Showalter, who added that McFarland is also dropping down to the side too much with his arm slot. “He’s had a little problem in the middle of an inning compared to starting an inning. I think some of that’s our fault.”

On the surface, McFarland’s 1.93 ERA suggests his performance has been strong, but walking 7.7 hitters per nine innings and a 2.14 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) tell the real story of how he’s fared this season.

Left-hander Brian Matusz also rejoined the bullpen Sunday after serving the final game of his suspension on Saturday night. With rookie Mike Wright starting the series finale, the Orioles maintained a seven-man bullpen with Wilson and Matusz replacing Wright and McFarland.

In three appearances for the Orioles earlier this season, Wilson posted a 3.38 ERA in eight innings. His one start in Baltimore came on May 28 when he allowed two runs in six innings of work in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

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Orioles release infielder Everth Cabrera

Posted on 13 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After designating veteran Everth Cabrera for assignment last week, the Orioles officially announced his release prior to Saturday’s game against the New York Yankees.

In 29 games this season, Cabrera batted .208 with two doubles, four RBIs, two stolen bases, and a .479 on-base plus slugging percentage. The 28-year-old was signed to a one-year, $2.4 million contract in late February and filled in for the injured J.J. Hardy for the first month of the season.

The Orioles hoped that Cabrera might provide an upgrade as a utility infielder or potential competition for the 23-year-old Jonathan Schoop at second base, but the former San Diego Padre struggled immensely at the plate and didn’t provide as much defensive versatility as utility man Ryan Flaherty. On the hook for the remainder of Cabrera’s 2015 salary, the Orioles have now parted ways with their second veteran player this month after trading outfielder Alejandro De Aza to the Boston Red Sox on June 3.

Manager Buck Showalter expects Cabrera to draw plenty of interest from other clubs as a free agent. The infielder had a minor-league option at the beginning of the season but had since accrued his fifth full year of service time, which allowed him to to refuse a minor-league assignment.

“You don’t go down that road that we went with him last week if you didn’t feel good about your replacements,” Showalter said. “He played some shortstop for us at a pretty good level until we got J.J. back. He’s capable of swinging the bat better. He’ll get an opportunity.”

In other news, Showalter reconfirmed that the plan was to start right-hander Mike Wright on Sunday if he wasn’t needed out of the bullpen in the second game of the three-game series.

Left-hander Brian Matusz returned to the Baltimore clubhouse on Saturday afternoon before serving the final contest of an eight-game ban. The Orioles were 6-1 in the first seven games of his suspension despite playing with a 24-man roster.

The southpaw specialist will rejoin the bullpen on Sunday.

“You see how he comes out of spring when he starts out with a changeup and he pitches multiple innings every outing,” said Showalter about Matusz, who was working out in Sarasota over the last week. “I’m confident we’re going to get a pretty sharp guy tomorrow. I hope so. He’ll get a chance to pitch.”

Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy will undergo a second magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right shoulder just to confirm that he was only dealing with tendinitis.

Fellow prospect Hunter Harvey remains shut down with a flexor mass strain in his right forearm, but Showalter said the 20-year-old right-hander is progressing nicely.

Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia continues to get stronger in Sarasota while recovering from right shoulder tendinitis, but it remains unclear when he will begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

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Showalter climbs to third on Orioles’ all-time wins list

Posted on 13 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Not only did the Orioles move back to the .500 mark with their fifth straight win on Friday, but the 11-3 win over the New York Yankees brought a career milestone for Buck Showalter.

The 59-year-old climbed into a tie for third place with Hank Bauer on the Orioles’ all-time managerial wins list with 407 as Showalter is in the midst of his sixth season in Baltimore. To no surprise, Showalter was more interested in talking about his players’ accomplishments against the Yankees rather than the latest addition to his career résumé.

“It means I’ve been here a long time,” Showalter said. “Obviously, the cliché-est thing is that you’ve got a lot of good players that have allowed you to be here. And your timing was real good. To see a situation that’s gotten better, I guarantee you can find a lot of people — you’ve heard me says this — who took some bullets before you got here to get it right.”

A three-time American League Manager of the Year, Showalter only trails Earl Weaver (1,480) and Paul Richards (517) on Baltimore’s career wins list. Earlier this week, he passed Charlie Grimm for 33rd on the all-time major league wins list and now owns 1,289 victories in his 17 seasons as a manager.

He is currently scheduled to manage his 2,500th game in the majors on July 5 in Chicago.

Showalter said he got to know Bauer, the manager of the 1966 World Series champions and a longtime New York Yankees outfielder, from his days managing the Yankees in the early 1990s. Bauer was hired to manage the Orioles in 1964 and lasted until 1968 when he was replaced by Weaver in the middle of the season. Bauer passed away at age 84 in 2007.

“He was pretty special,” Showalter said. “He always treated everybody the same. Very easy to talk to. You could tell how much he loved baseball. He loved talking about our team. He was on top of everything.”

Those words about Bauer could be used to describe the current Orioles manager whose attention to detail sets him apart from many others throughout the game. Earlier Friday, Showalter spent several minutes opining about the need for standardized warning tracks, citing different surfaces and varying distances from the start of the track to the outfield wall that are used in different ballparks.

It’s a mundane topic many managers have probably never considered, but Showalter is always looking for the next way to improve the game or to give his club an edge. In 2013, the warning track at Camden Yards was changed from a rubberized surface to a natural surface of crushed stone that was considered much safer for outfielders.

In reflecting on his time with the Orioles, Showalter is right in saying many others have had a part in turning fortunes around after 14 straight years of losing, but no one has meant more to changing the culture of the organization since he arrived in the second half of the 2010 season.

“My timing was good. I pinch myself every day I get a chance to do this. That won’t change,” Showalter said. “Whether it was Dave Trembley or Andy MacPhail, Dan [Duquette] and I both understand how fortunate we were to reap the benefits of some things that they did. Now, we’ve just got to keep it going.”

The timing of his arrival couldn’t have been better for the Orioles, either.

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What’s next for Kevin Gausman?

Posted on 12 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman is moving closer to his return from the disabled list, but what that exactly means remains to be seen.

Manager Buck Showalter revealed Friday that the 24-year-old right-hander will pitch two innings for Single-A Frederick on Tuesday after he allowed two home runs and four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings at Double-A Bowie on Thursday. Though desiring better results, Gausman said he feels healthy and threw all of his pitches, including the curveball he began throwing at the end of spring training.

“That’s the biggest thing. Physically, I felt good,” Gausman said prior to Friday’s series opener with the New York Yankees. “Today, I woke up [with] my normal soreness and not anything worse than what I was expecting. It was kind of tough in the heat yesterday, but I got my electrolytes in me last night.”

Considering the goal has been to move Gausman back into a starting role since he was placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder tendinitis last month, his next outing only being scheduled to go two innings sends mixed signals.

The Orioles are hoping to use rookie Mike Wright in place of the injured Miguel Gonzalez for Sunday’s start, but that slot’s next turn would fall on Friday in Toronto. It’s possible that Gausman could take a “work day” against live hitters at Frederick before entering the Baltimore rotation next weekend.

Placed on the DL with a right groin strain on Thursday, Gonzalez isn’t eligible to be activated until June 25 at the earliest.

Gausman only threw 61 pitches in his last rehab start, so it’s unclear how far the Orioles would be willing to extend him if he were to take the hill next weekend against the Blue Jays. Of course, it’s always possible that the Orioles could be rethinking what to do with the talented pitcher and might consider returning him to the bullpen despite the fact that the young pitcher attributed sporadic relief work as a factor that could have led to his shoulder issue earlier this season.

Showalter wasn’t tipping his hand when asked about the rationale for Gausman only being slated to pitch two innings in his next rehab start.

“I think that will reveal itself as we go forward,” Showalter said. “He’s ready to go in any capacity we need him to go.”

In 20 starts last season, Gausman went 7-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 113 1/3 innings before excelling in a bullpen role in the postseason. He was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings out of the bullpen before being placed on the DL on May 8.

NOTES: Second baseman Jonathan Schoop (right knee) will travel from Sarasota to Baltimore on Sunday and work out with the Orioles four days next week. When the club travels to Toronto, the 23-year-old is expected to join Double-A Bowie, but it remains uncertain that he would immediately begin his rehab assignment at that time. … Left-handed reliever Wesley Wright (left trapezius) pitched one inning in an extended spring game on Friday and is primed to begin a minor-league rehab assignment. … Since April 29, the Orioles bullpen ranks fourth in the majors and third in the American League with a 2.34 ERA over 115 1/3 innings.

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Promising signs beginning to surface for Orioles

Posted on 12 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Nearly 60 games into the 2015 season, we know the Orioles have their flaws.

They don’t have a great offense, a truth that became painfully obvious in May when they finished last in the American League in average and on-base percentage. The newfound presence of All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and the anticipated return of Jonathan Schoop before the All-Star break will help, but it’s a lineup that can’t be counted on to consistently win high-scoring games despite showing signs of life over the last week.

The early-season struggles of starting pitchers Chris Tillman and Bud Norris are now compounded by Miguel Gonzalez being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin injury, leaving plenty of uncertainty in what’s been a solid but unspectacular rotation.

Despite those shortcomings, it’s been the emergence of two phases of the game in which the Orioles thrived over the previous three seasons that has been the catalyst for a season-high four-game winning streak and six victories in seven tries. Manager Buck Showalter relied on superb defense and an exceptional bullpen to guide the Orioles to a three-game sweep over the scuffling Boston Red Sox and back to just one game below .500.

To be fair, the bullpen has performed at a high level since a rocky April in which it posted a 4.35 ERA. Since the start of May, Orioles relievers have pitched to a 2.38 ERA in 113 1/3 innings. And though being a man down for the first two games of the Boston series due to the Brian Matusz suspension, the bullpen allowed just one earned run in 12 innings against the Red Sox in the series.

“You can withstand it if the guys who come in to pitch out of the bullpen finish the job that they have to do,” said Showalter about using a six-man bullpen before rookie Mike Wright was recalled on Thursday. “If you have to bring another guy in to finish that, that’s where the problem comes. These guys have done a good job of finishing.”

To see strong contributions from closer Zach Britton and setup men Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter is one thing, but the Orioles have received a major lift from the likes of Brad Brach and Chaz Roe in recent weeks. Despite allowing a solo home run to David Ortiz on Thursday, Roe pitching the eighth inning of a tight game against Boston is a bet few would have taken back in spring training. The right-hander currently sports a 1.38 ERA since being promoted from Triple-A Norfolk last month.

The balanced performance was particularly impressive in pushing the Red Sox further into the basement of the AL East. Showalter loves to see his relievers “pass the baton” when necessary, and that’s exactly what the group did as the Orioles earned their first three-game sweep of the season.

“I was kind of having that feeling this series and I hope we can continue,” said Brach, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Thursday. “It just kind of seems that the excitement is starting to get there and everybody is starting to find their little niche. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling.”

Considering the bullpen has pitched so well for over a month, what has been the biggest difference over the last week when the Orioles have played their best baseball of the year?

If you watched the last few games, it wasn’t difficult to tell.

“Our defense,” said third baseman Manny Machado, who made several exceptional plays in the series and has seemingly put his early-season defensive woes behind him. “We’re playing the defense we’re supposed to be playing on the Orioles and this organization.”

Even the likes of Travis Snider and the returning Nolan Reimold got into the defensive act against the Red Sox as the Orioles played the type of defense we’ve come to expect over the last few years. On Wednesday alone, Adam Jones put together a convincing body of work for another Gold Glove as he made three sensational defensive plays.

We shouldn’t overlook the fact that the Orioles homered three times in Thursday’s finale — the long ball has been another key to their success since 2012 — but the vibe accompanying their overall play makes you wonder if things are slowly beginning to fall into place. Improved pitching and exceptional defense were the bread and butter that allowed the Orioles to take off in the second half of 2014 on the way to 96 wins and their first division title since 1997.

That doesn’t mean it will happen in the same way, but few anticipate it taking that kind of a winning clip to prevail in an ordinary division.

The offense will continue to be a concern and there’s uneasiness with the current rotation, but the Orioles hope their current winning streak is a harbinger of what’s to come over the coming days, weeks, and months. They’ll receive an ample test this weekend with the New York Yankees visiting Camden Yards on the heels of winning seven of their last eight.

Baltimore enters the weekend only four games behind New York and with an opportunity to climb back to the .500 mark for the first time since May 5.

“We have momentum until we leave the locker room and get back here tomorrow,” Showalter said after Thursday’s win. “The best team in our division so far this year is coming in. It’s tough because there are a lot of people having trouble beating them. Now, we have to try to see if we can.”

And you have to feel better about their chances than you did a week ago.

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M. Wright recalled, Gonzalez placed on 15-day DL

Posted on 11 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Prior to Thursday’s series finale against Boston, the Orioles officially placed starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitcher Mike Wright from Triple-A Norfolk.

Gonzalez suffered a right groin strain in Tuesday’s start against the Red Sox, which forced him to depart in the fifth inning. With the 31-year-old still experiencing soreness 48 hours later, the Orioles made the move, which gives them a seventh man in the bullpen while lefty Brian Matusz serves the remainder of his eight-game suspension that concludes with Saturday’s game.

“I’m a little bummed, but I understand it’s the right thing to do,” said Gonzalez, who previously spent time on the DL in 2013 due to a blister and last year because of a strained oblique. “It’s not feeling any better; it’s still sore. As I walk, I still feel it. I think we just go from there and see what happens.”

Optioned to the minors last Friday, Wright was only eligible to return to the majors to replace an injured player and would not have been able to be recalled until Monday under the normal circumstances in which a player must remain in the minor leagues for 10 days. Manager Buck Showalter said the 25-year-old right-hander will be available in relief for the next few games and remains an option to make Sunday’s start against the New York Yankees.

In four starts for the Orioles, the rookie has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 24 1/3 innings.

“I like Miguel and I don’t want anybody to be hurt, obviously, but it’s nice to be [back] up here,” Wright said. “I hope I’m still available for Sunday, but I’m going to try my best to help win the next three games until then. If’ I’m available then, that’s when I’ll pitch.”

The Orioles remain optimistic that Gonzalez won’t miss more than the minimum 15 days. The veteran starter told reporters his groin injury was not as severe as the one suffered by infielder Ryan Flaherty earlier this season.

Gonzalez had a similar injury in 2013 — Showalter described this strain as “a little tick worse” — but an off-day allowed the Orioles to rearrange their rotation in order to keep him off the DL then.

In other injury-related news, Showalter said first baseman Chris Davis only experienced a cramp when he appeared to tweak something during Wednesday’s game. He remained in the game and was serving as the designated hitter on Thursday.

On the same day Chris Tillman was making his 130th career start and center fielder Adam Jones was playing in his 1,089th game for Baltimore, former Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard announced his retirement. Those two current Orioles were the centerpiece of a trade that sent the left starter to the Seattle Mariners in 2008.

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