The Orioles’ 1-0 win in 13 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night was important in several ways – including one that’s not so positive.
Reserve outfielder Craig Gentry suffered a non-displaced fracture of the right middle finger while attempting to bunt in the third inning. He’ll have a specialist examine his hand Saturday or Sunday, but he’ll be lost for a while.
“We’ll have a better idea how long in the next day or so when the doctor looks at him,” Showalter said. “Pretty tough. He’s been a big piece for us. That’s a loss for us.”
It’s possible, Showalter said, that the speedy Gentry could use a protective mitt on his hand and still be used as a pinch-runner down the stretch.
“There are some moving parts there,” Showalter said. “We’re going to have to see what the doctor says, the risk involved. I’m sure there’s going to be a period where the swelling’s going to have to go down where you won’t even risk sliding with it. We’ll see what he says.”
Gentry has played in 74 games for the Orioles, but has just 101 at-bats. Mainly a pinch-runner and defensive specialist, he has hit .257 with two homers and five stolen bases.
If the Orioles place Gentry on the disabled list, they could recall lefty reliever Donnie Hart, who hasn’t been in the minors for 10 days yet.
Weird, big win on Friday
Friday’s game – which lasted four hours and 27 minutes — had so many weird twists and storylines as the night crept along.
The most important, of course, is the win has propelled the Orioles (69-66) into a tie with the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Wild Card race. They are now just 1 ½ games behind the Minnesota Twins, who hold the second Wild Card spot, and 2 ½ behind the New York Yankees, who have the first spot. All three of those teams lost Friday.
Additionally on Friday, Kevin Gausman pitched brilliantly again, allowing five hits and one walk in six scoreless innings in the no decision. He hasn’t allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings spanning his last two outings.
Adam Jones was ejected in the first inning – his second of his career, both this year — after apparently complaining about home plate umpire Pat Hoberg’s strike zone. His chirping came as he walked away from the plate and while he was in the dugout, so it sure appeared that Hoberg overreacted.
“It’s unfortunate,” Showalter said. “It’s not like he’s up there around the plate area arguing anything. He’s walked away, he’s in the dugout and a pitch away from moving on to the next hitter.”
There also were some highlight-reel defensive plays: A couple turned in by Manny Machado, two by former Oriole Steve Pearce, a fantastic decision and throw by Jonathan Schoop to stop a run in the ninth and a tremendous, game-saving diving catch by left fielder Trey Mancini in the 13th.
The night started slow, but the last few innings were pretty high drama.
No cavalry coming; Orioles counting on this rotation
The Orioles went without an August trade this year for the first time since Dan Duquette became the club’s executive vice president before the 2012 season.
Duquette said Friday that he tried, and he seemed close to a couple possibilities, but the demands from other teams were, ultimately, too costly for what they’d be getting.
“We tried to supplement our pitching staff, but we couldn’t find the right fit. We had three or four options that we were exploring and, ultimately, we decided to supplement our pitching staff from within the organization,” Duquette said. “We had two conversations that were getting close to a deal, but that didn’t work out. So, we were happy with bringing these other guys up.”
And, Duquette added, “Taking into consideration the (minor league) pitching we would have had to give up to acquire pitching for our major league team, we thought this was the best option to just add the guys we have in the minors.”
Duquette said he believed that the additions of relievers Jimmy Yacabonis and Richard Rodriguez will help the overall pitching staff, as will the pending promotions of relievers Alec Asher, Hart and Mike Wright, once they are all eligible to return to the majors (must wait 10 days after demotion unless replacing an injured player).
The bottom line, of course, is that the Orioles’ biggest need down the stretch is starting pitching, and Duquette is still banking on his current staff to improve. That’s not exactly been a recipe for success in 2017. But that’s the risk he’s taking.
“I have been expecting the veteran pitchers on this staff to step up and pitch the way they are capable of all year and we have one more month to go,” Duquette said. “So that’s still my expectation and hope that they step up and make contributions like they have in the past.”
Waiting on J.J.; DFA’ing Wilson, Verrett
Showalter revealed Friday that shortstop J.J. Hardy (right wrist) is dealing with soreness in his right elbow and was expected to receive an ejection in it. The condition isn’t serious, Showalter said, and he still hopes Hardy will be activated from the 60-day disabled list by Monday.
“Nothing to do with structural (damage) kind of like a tennis elbow you might think from all the hitting he has done,” Showalter said. “That would be a day or two, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to join us on Monday, somewhere around there. … He said he had it before. He said he had an injection and it cleared it up.”
When Hardy does return, the Orioles will have to make another move with their 40-man roster. On Friday, when they added Rodriguez, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and catcher Chance Sisco to the major-league roster, the Orioles designated pitchers Logan Verrett and Tyler Wilson for assignment to remain at a full, 40-man roster.
Although neither DFA was a surprise, Wilson’s removal from the 40-man was significant in that the 27-year-old right-hander has been with the organization since being drafted in the 10th round in 2011 out of the University of Virginia. He was 8-10 with a 5.02 ERA in 42 games (19 starts) for the Orioles over the past three seasons. He also was a favorite in the organization for his work ethic and unfailingly positive attitude.
Showalter said he’s not yet accepting that Wilson is gone from the Orioles, but part of him hopes Wilson is claimed off waivers and gets a chance with another organization. Duquette also heaped praise on Wilson, who was 7-8 with a 4.74 ERA in 20 starts for the Tides this season.
“He’s a great kid, and gave his best every day he worked for the Orioles,” Duquette said. “And he did some good work for us.”
Fulfilling a cool wish
The Orioles did a really cool thing Friday in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, holding a news conference that was punctuated by an emotional Duquette presenting a one-day contract to 17-year-old Jimmy Martino of Fallston.
Martino, introduced as a lefty first baseman, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January. With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – players and umpires wore yellow wristbands in recognition – the Orioles welcomed Martino as their guest of honor Friday. Aside from the news conference announcing his signing, Martino also received his own jersey, No. 15, met many of the Orioles and threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
During his news conference, he was asked which player he was most interested in meeting, and he offered a very neutral, but very Baltimore response: “As good old Buck Showalter says, ‘I like our guys.’” If pushed, he said he’d probably go with center fielder Adam Jones.
Duquette had to choke back emotions during the conference while talking about what Martino is going through.
“As a parent, you’re just grateful your kids are healthy, and it’s kids like these that have to go out and fight the fight every day that remind you to appreciate the health within your family,” Duquette said afterward. “There’s over 250,000 cases of pediatric cancer diagnosed ever year. This is an isolated case, but the Orioles and Major League Baseball, they have a platform to bring awareness to it and to help these kids to live out their dreams, even if it’s only for a day.”
A pretty cool day for Martino and his parents – and the Orioles as well.