Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Trumbo comes through; Showalter's hook; Machado's August - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Trumbo comes through; Showalter’s hook; Machado’s August

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports

I guess it doesn’t really matter how it happens. A win is all that’s important at this time of year.

So, give the Orioles credit: They beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-4, in 12 innings Sunday to split the four-game series and again close within 1 ½ games of the Minnesota Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Throw out everything else, I suppose, that made Sunday occasionally painful to endure: A short start by the beleaguered Chris Tillman, an offense that kept threatening but couldn’t capitalize and a series against a lesser opponent that appeared to be slipping from their grasp.

Then Welington Castillo homers in the bottom of the ninth against Toronto closer Roberto Osuna – Castillo’s second home run of the game – and Mark Trumbo laces a long single in the bottom of the 12th to score Jonathan Schoop from second to win it.

All else is a post script. The Orioles (70-67) are now 12-2 in extra-inning games while celebrating their 11th walkoff victory of the season.

“It’s just really hard to do what they did today and have been doing. It’s just there are so many lures to give in and our guys never did, and (Toronto) didn’t either,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You had some situations where you look like you’re going to push it across and you let that snowball. You can’t let things snowball, especially this time of year where something negative happens, and when something positive happens (you) get comfortable with it. The players are just too good.”

It took 17 at-bats for the Orioles to finally get a hit with runners in scoring position Sunday – Trumbo’s would-be double that rattled in the corner long enough for Schoop to score.

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“I don’t think anyone really noticed. It didn’t feel like we were coming through all that often, but we don’t dissect it like that,” said Trumbo, who has four walkoff hits this season and nine in his career. “You just do what you can. When you get the opportunity, then you want to come through.”

It wasn’t the prettiest of victories. But that doesn’t matter. It’s not a beauty contest. It’s a pennant race – and the Orioles, no matter the warts, are in the thick of it.

Pulling Tillman in fifth right thing to do

Showalter is loyal to his veterans, we know that. He always talks about remembering the track record of certain players. And Tillman has been the best starter in Showalter’s tenure in Baltimore.

That, and trying to get extra rest for some of his younger pitchers, is why Tillman was placed back into the rotation while sporting an ERA that hovers around 8.00.

Track record or not, Tillman’s leash in September has to be short if he’s going to be in the rotation. Showalter reinforced that Sunday afternoon when he pulled Tillman in the fifth inning with only 72 pitches thrown.

“I felt like the other team kind of told me. (Josh) Donaldson had had some real good swings, other than the first at-bat,” Showalter said. “I’m glad to pass him on to somebody else. He’s heating up. But I think the other team kind of told me.”

Tillman had gotten through four and allowed just one mistake, Donaldson’s three-run homer in the third inning.

To set up that homer, however, Tillman walked the Blue Jays’ No. 9 hitter Richard Urena on four pitches in what was Urena’s second plate appearance in the majors. The Orioles had cut the lead to 3-2 by the top of the fifth, when Tillman allowed a leadoff double to Ryan Goins, who nearly homered. Tillman then walked Urena again, this time on five pitches.

The 21-year-old middle infielder had just 30 walks and a .286 on-base percentage in 551 plate appearances for Double-A New Hampshire before his call-up this week.

“I rarely ever in my career try to purposely walk somebody with few exceptions. But especially that guy,” Tillman said. “You’ve got to get after that guy, especially with the guys coming up behind him You’ve got to take care of the lower part of the lineup to have it translate to a good game as opposed to a short start.”

That was enough for Showalter. He summoned Mychal Givens, who escaped the mess with a strikeout, a walk of Donaldson and a lineout double play by Justin Smoak.

Not only did the move by Showalter work out, he really had no choice. Tillman needed to attack, and when he couldn’t command his pitches for the second time against a rookie as raw as you can get in the majors, the signal was there. It’s painful for Tillman – probably for Showalter, too – but he knows that’s what happens in September when he’s teetering on the ropes.

“Does it bother me? Yeah. But when we win that’s more important,” Tillman said. “I think it kind of doesn’t really matter what I do as long as the team wins. That’s the way I think everyone in here feels. Right now is the time of year we’ve got to win, especially in September You see it all the time. I feel like you’ve got all the callups here and there’s a chance for that game to get away with one more swing. I think I saw it coming, especially after I walked the guy.”

Machado claims August award

With a 17-11 August that catapulted the Orioles back into the American League Wild Card race, you had to figure a few of their players would get consideration for the league’s monthly awards.

Ultimately, Manny Machado got the nod as AL Player of the Month for his scalding August – hitting .341 with six doubles, a triple, 12 homers and 35 RBIs in 29 games. He had hits in 22 of those 29 games. It is his second monthly honor of his career; he also won in April 2016.

Machado beat out several other top performers this month including Donaldson and Orioles shortstop Tim Beckham, who received some votes after hitting .394 with six homers and 19 RBIs.

Although no other Oriole won August accolades, Trey Mancini received votes for AL Rookie of the Month (won by Boston’s Andrew Benintendi) and Dylan Bundy was in the running for AL Pitcher of the Month (won by Cleveland’s Corey Kluber).

A RISP mess on Sunday

The Orioles had plenty of chances Sunday to blow the game open, but couldn’t convert. They were 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position before Trumbo’s game winner.

Their previous runs scored on three solo homers, including two by Castillo and one by Trumbo. Mancini contributed a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

The Orioles had two runners on base in the third, seventh, eighth and ninth and couldn’t deliver.

“I think we’re always due. That’s one of the things about having continuity with players and people,” Showalter said. “Let’s be frank. There’s going to come a day before too long where there isn’t another game. So, we want the opportunity to play some more games, and games like this make you feel like you earned it.”

The Orioles have been better with runners in scoring position this year, but you have to be concerned that they still do what they’ve done in the past when reaching the postseason:

The homers become harder to hit against top pitching, and then they struggle to score.

Sunday was a discouraging reminder of that trend. But, hey, they won anyway.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. woody

    September 3, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve no idea how we’re going to keep this up with Tillman/Ubaldo in the rotation and trying to limit Bundy’s innings count.

    We’re going to need a lot of luck with kids turning up in our bullpen like Jimmy did tonight and delivering, because our bullpen can’t cope with this amount of usage for much longer.

    • bigdaddydk

      September 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

      This is the beauty of expanded rosters. As much as Buck professes to not like roster expansion, it’s custom-made for a team that’s on the verge of getting in but needs a little extra help. I expect Buck will have a short leash on, at the very least, Ubaldo and Tillman, and possibly Miley. I would expect he may give a little more leash to Gausman and Bundy simply because they’ve been lights out lately, but if the pen is rested enough that could change too. There aren’t many games left to give away from poor starting pitching.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      Exactly Big Daddy. He hates September baseball but it plays right into Buck’s hands as far as bullpen/staff management is concerned.

  2. bill-s

    September 3, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Speculating….Should the Orioles make the playoffs and then win the wild card game, are Tillman and/or Ubaldo on the ALDS roster? I can’t imagine why they would be. Just throw in a big bullpen, possibly even Yakabonis. These guys have earned it, and Tillman and Ubaldo have not.

    • Osfan73

      September 3, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Agree, they’re kind of a liability right now and predictable…..you almost know what’s going to happen when they start, a big one inning meltdown!

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Typically a fifth starter doesn’t make the roster and the fourth doesn’t always. Considering Tillman/Ubaldo are probably 5th and 6th right now, is imagine no. But that decision will be made on how they are throwing in late September.

  3. Osfan73

    September 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Right on, NOT pretty but the W is most important right now. Good job by Yacabonis this series, going to need more of that from him rest of the way!
    I said it on a here in regards to another posting earlier this weekend but I’ll say it again….Where’s Alvarez? Maybe, just maybe he could be called up and spell CD some, thus potentially eliminating some strikeouts. And DH as well.
    Good job by Manny turning his season around!!

    • bigdaddydk

      September 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

      There’s no way in the world I’d let Pedro show up with a glove. If he DHs against righties, fine. But he has hands of iron in the field. If Davis takes a break, Mancini needs to be at 1B. Personally, I’d rather DH Castillo and put Joseph behind the plate though. Castillo’s bat has been smoking hot and Joseph is a good game manager. Trumbo could play 1B too, and he’s batting over .300 for the last couple of weeks with a couple of HRs and the game-winning hit last night. Right now, if he’s heating up, I leave him in there.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      I’m with you on Pedro. Wrote about it this morning

  4. ATCguy

    September 4, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Just curious, Dan… still think the O’s should reach out & sign Tillman to 1-year flyer now?

    I was 50-50 on the idea when you floated it a week or so ago… it had its merits, for all the reasons you laid out. But at this point, I don’t think so. Yeah, I get that signing him might ease some of the pressure he’s gotta be felling to pitch well on a walk year (and obviously failing at)… but let’s face it. If he can’t perform under pressure, then how good of an asset is he? I like the guy, but think that his best days are probably behind him, or… only a change of scenery would possibly do him good.

    • bigdaddydk

      September 4, 2017 at 8:27 am

      I would be surprised, considering what Tillman has given them, if they didn’t offer a pillow deal this year. One that doesn’t cost so much that they would be hesitant to DFA him if there’s a better arm ready to move into the rotation. A lot will hinge on what Hellickson does too. If he re-signs and they can move Castro (possibly) into the rotation, they still have to consider what it means to have a fifth starter. The other option is to keep Miley as the token lefty and occasional gem-twirler and slot him as the fifth guy. Does Asher become serviceable as a starter? What about Ynoa? Does anyone wow Buck in spring training? Too many questions left unanswered to simply cut bait with Tillman. I, for one, don’t think his shoulder is 100%, and an off-season of therapy and mechanical work may resolve some issues. His velocity is back, but his mechanics are way off.

      • Bancells Moustache

        September 4, 2017 at 10:52 am

        I think they bring him back on the cheap. I doubt very much the rest of the league will be beating down Tilly’s door with checkbooks in hand, and he has nowhere to go but up. Think about how horrendous Caleb Joseph was last year and how much he has bounced back.

        • bigdaddydk

          September 4, 2017 at 11:33 am

          I think so too, although starting pitching is pretty scarce in the MLB right now. Even so, there’s not much market for guys who spend most of a season with ERAs north of 8.00. I’d sign him for a deal that wouldn’t hurt if he got DFA’d and see what happens. He could be a real bargain next year and possibly be ready to re-sign for the following.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      It all depends on the money of course — for him and them — but I’d still endorse it.

  5. GSISDANNO

    September 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

    After posting a seven-game winning streak, the Toronto series was very disappointing. The Orioles came very close to getting swept. This series with the Yankees is crucial. Minnesota and the Angels aren’t going to collapse for the Orioles. If Buck gets this team to the off-season, he should go to the Hall of Fame now. Basically, the Orioles have a two man rotation with Gausman and Bundy.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      I’ve said it before, none of these teams is particularly good. One will get hot and get into playoffs.

  6. willmiranda

    September 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Trumbo must have felt relieved by the walk-off. Having a .220 hitter intentionally walked ahead of him twice in a row had to be scorching.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Yeah. Those guys hate that.

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