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When the Orioles signed Andrew Cashner in February to a two-year, $16 million deal, Wednesday’s start is basically what I envisioned.
In a rain-soaked loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, Cashner lasted into the sixth inning and kept the Orioles in the game.
He wasn’t dominating, but he did strikeout six, which ties for his second highest output in a game this year.
He wasn’t wild, though he did walk three – yet only one each in three separate innings.
He kept the ball in the ballpark, though he allowed a solo shot to Cesar Hernandez, the sixth consecutive game in which the sinkerballing Cashner has yielded a homer.
He ultimately was charged with three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, but one of those was inherited runner that Richard Bleier allowed to score.
Still, Cashner had thrown five scoreless innings before the three-run sixth, which, probably not coincidentally, was when the rain really poured at Camden Yards.
“I thought I threw the ball well. In that sixth inning, the ball kept slipping out of my hand,” Cashner said. “It got pretty wet there and I just have to execute better.”
If it sounds like I’m going back and forth on Cashner’s outing, you’re right. It wasn’t great, but it was plenty solid. And that’s been the trend for him here.
His performance wasn’t good enough for a win Wednesday – he only has one of those this season, way back on April 5 at New York.
Then again, it could have been good enough for a win had the Orioles been able to solve Philly right-hander Nick Pivetta, who matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and allowed one run on two hits in seven innings.
“Cash pitched well. We just didn’t score,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s up to you guys to evaluate what the story is, but for us, that’s where it lies for me.”
Cashner has now allowed three runs or fewer in six of his nine Orioles’ starts – and that’s more than acceptable despite a 4.83 ERA that is inflated by a six-run, four-inning performance against Detroit.
You can make the argument that Cashner has pitched well enough to win most of his starts this year.
“Sure, you can say that about other guys in games, too,” Showalter said. “Sometimes it kind of works the other way. You keep pitching like that, it will even out. No, he has pitched well, for the most part. That was a game you’d like to have out of your starting pitcher when it’s over. It just gets magnified because we didn’t score any runs.”
In a vacuum, Cashner is 1-5 with a 4.83 ERA – and that’s not worth $8 million per year.
But he pretty much has been as advertised. Keeps you in games, pitches into the sixth, will rarely hurt you.
And, given what the Orioles had last year, that’s a welcomed addition to this rotation.
Sunday’s starter up in air
Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn’t like tipping his hand, but even he is willing to concede that rookie David Hess and reliever Miguel Castro are his two candidates for Sunday’s open start.
OK, so Showalter wouldn’t bite that they are his two “primary” candidates to pitch the final game in Boston, but we’ll make that leap for you.
Castro was supposed to make his first 2018 start Wednesday afternoon, but when Tuesday’s night game against the Phillies was postponed, Cashner was pushed back to Wednesday.
“Part of me was kinda looking forward to seeing how he did (Tuesday),” Showalter said about Castro, who made a start last September, but otherwise has been a reliever in his big league career.
It could happen Sunday, or Hess, who recorded a quality start on three days’ rest in his big league debut Saturday, could get the call again. Hess is scheduled to start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk, which would line up perfectly for him to get Sunday’s start for the Orioles.
That’s coincidental, Showalter said Wednesday. It was the plan of the minor league staff and Orioles’ pitching coach Roger McDowell to give Hess an extra day or two of rest and side sessions this week because he was forced to pitch on three days’ rest Saturday.
“I think that’s why they kind of pushed it back to Sunday,” Showalter said. “That was done a day or two ago, that had nothing to do with the rainout (Tuesday).”
The rest of the matchups for the Red Sox series is set: Kevin Gausman versus David Price on Thursday, Alex Cobb versus Drew Pomeranz on Friday and Dylan Bundy versus Rick Porcello on Saturday.
But who will face off against former Oriole farmhand, Eduardo Rodriguez, on Sunday isn’t yet determined.
I’m 50-50 on my guess. So, I’ll stick with Showalter’s statement that it won’t be determined until he sees how much he has to use Castro out of the bullpen in Boston.
This is definitely something to watch, however, because with Chris Tillman on the DL, whoever gets Sunday’s start could be the fifth starter going forward – assuming, of course, it goes well.
Making the right call, I guess
The Orioles trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday and the Phillies brought in reliever Edubray Ramos to face the meat of the Orioles order.
Ramos struck out Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis came to the plate.
And Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler went to the mound. He lifted Ramos and inserted beleaguered closer Hector Neris with two outs in the ninth.
It worked. The struggling Davis hit into the shift to end the game. But since Neris recorded just one out in a three-run contest, there was no save.
Again, it worked. But it seemed like a little overkill to me. It seemed like Ramos would have been fine.
But it’s Kapler’s call, not mine, I suppose.
I was waiting for the Phillies to dogpile on the mound after winning the pennant. But it didn’t happen. Just handshakes in the middle of May.
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