A friend once told me that the best thing about baseball is, no matter how many games you’ve seen, there’s always a chance to witness something new.
Orioles’ lefty Wade Miley, unfortunately and painfully, served as Exhibit A on Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.
After picking up two outs in the first inning, Miley threw an 88-mph fastball that Jose Abreu lined right back at him. It hit Miley on the left wrist.
In obvious discomfort, Miley stayed in the game after making a couple practice tosses.
Two real pitches later, Miley threw an 87-mph two-seamer to Avisail Garcia and the White Sox outfielder lined it right off Miley’s backside for another single.
That was enough for Orioles manager Buck Showalter and the medical staff. They yanked the battered and bruised Miley, who officially was diagnosed with a “left wrist contusion.” X-Rays were negative.
“I should have taken him out after the first one. I regret that,” Showalter said. “Just didn’t like the risk-reward there. The X-ray here (on the wrist) was negative, but we didn’t take an X-ray of his buttocks. He said, ‘Buck, it hit me in the ass.’”
It was terrible luck for Miley, who has pitched well for the Orioles so far this season. Leaving after 12 pitches, and two bruises, obviously was not what he had in mind. It was his shortest outing in the majors, including relief appearances.
“Has that ever happened before? Three pitches, two licks,” Miley said. “It sucks, obviously.”
Miley said he’s never left a game after being hit by one, lonesome liner.
“No, (and) I’ve been hit quite a few times,” Miley said. “I was trying to stay in the game there. I guess the smart thing to do there was to get me out of it, get X-rays.”
He said he has a little swelling in the wrist, but thinks he’ll make his next start.
Ynoa tremendous in relief
Gabriel Ynoa, making his Orioles debut Friday after being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, was outstanding.
He had to rush into the game after Miley departed, which is difficult for any pitcher. Ynoa induced an inning-ending pop-up on the second pitch he threw, and continued to cruise after that.
He lasted six scoreless innings, gave up six hits, walked no one and struck out five. Particularly incredible considering his first month at Triple-A, where Ynoa was 1-4 with a 6.65 ERA. His callup wasn’t fully on merit. It was because the Orioles needed a fresh arm after Richard Bleier was needed to throw four innings Wednesday after Kevin Gausman was ejected in the second inning.
It’d be easy to say that Ynoa’s performance was a surprise, but dominance is starting to become expected from these guys who get off the Norfolk shuttle.
Whether it’s been Alec Asher, Logan Verrett, Bleier or Tyler Wilson, they’re getting opportunities and seizing them. And then they’re heading back down to Norfolk to make room for another fresh arm.
That’s the reward Ynoa will get for his work, a trip on the Norfolk shuttle since he won’t be available for four or more days.
But the performance should guarantee he’ll come back at some point and get another shot. So, in a sense, I guess it all evens out for these guys.
“Whenever the opportunities come, I just try to take advantage of those opportunities,” Ynoa said through interpreter Ramon Alarcon. “That’s why I’m hoping for more opportunities, to show what I can do.”
The return of Miguel Gonzalez
Certainly, the major Camden Yards homecoming of 2017 will happen Monday, when Matt Wieters returns to Baltimore with the Washington Nationals after spending his entire career with the Orioles.
And, in July, Jake Arrieta will be back with the Chicago Cubs.
But Friday night, another ex-Oriole took the mound at Camden Yards for the first time since leaving the organization: 32-year-old right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who made his major league debut with the Orioles in 2012 after being signed while playing in Mexico.
Gonzalez was a good story, a really good guy, and was a big part of the Orioles’ playoff teams in 2012 and 2014. After a rough, injury-riddled 2015 with the Orioles, Gonzalez again looks like a good major league pitcher.
The Orioles released Gonzalez in March 2016 – and there were $4 million reasons. By cutting him when they did, they saved about four-fifths of his initial 2016 contract.
Gonzalez latched on with the White Sox, was 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA last year and is now 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA in six starts this year after allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Orioles on Friday.
Before the game, Showalter talked about what he’s seen differently from Gonzalez on video this year and about their time together with the Orioles.
“You could tell there were certain pitches when he was here he probably didn’t feel as good about throwing because of the physical effect it might have on him. And you can tell that’s not a factor anymore and that’s been good to see,” Showalter said. “I’m happy for him. I’ll be a lot happier for him when he gets out of here. Good man, really good teammate.”
Tillman will start Sunday
You knew it and I knew it. Showalter made it official Friday night.
Chris Tillman will make his season debut Sunday against the White Sox.
The Orioles believe their top starter is ready to go, though his numbers in four rehab games – 0-3 with a 7.16 ERA – certainly isn’t encouraging.
But it wouldn’t be unusual for a veteran starter to ramp up things once he’s back in the majors.