Even by Kevin Gregg's standards, the ninth inning tonight at Tropicana Field was pretty hairy.
Gregg gave up a leadoff single to Sam Fuld, then retired B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez, leaving the Rays with a man in scoring position and two outs. Gregg walked Casey Kotchman and pinch-hitter Matt Joyce to load the bases and bring up rookie Brandon Guyer.
That's apparently the matchup Gregg wanted. "You got to pick and choose your battles of where you go," he said. "They are going to chase pitches out of the zone, then I put myself in a good spot."
The strategy -- if that's what you want to call it -- worked, but only after J.J. Hardy fielded Guyer's ground ball deep in the hole and first baseman Mark Reynolds dug out the shortstop's low throw to end the game.
“I said in my head, ‘We are either winning or we’re losing,’” said Reynolds, who had the option of coming off the bag and making sure the ball stayed in front of him rather than taking an aggressive swipe at it. “I’m going to pick it. If I don’t, we lose. I just had the glove in the right spot. I guess I’m just getting pretty lucky over there.”
Said Hardy of Reynolds: "The way he’s played for how many weeks that he’s been over there, he’s been a Gold Glove first baseman. I looked at that on film with him afterwards, and that was not an easy pick at all. I think it clipped like the dirt or grass, so it was right in-between, probably the hardest pick that there is. He made it look easy.”
Gregg did not in picking up his 20th save, but he rarely does. He has blown six saves and allowed an eye-popping 50 hits and 36 walks in 52 innings.
"The bottom line is you obviously haven’t acquired my taste in pitching yet,” Gregg said. “It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. And yeah, it’d be nice if I was like [Jim Johnson] and went 1-2-3, every inning I’m out there. But I’m not J.J. I don’t throw 97 [mph] with sink.”
Asked about his patience level with Gregg, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said: "There is a method to what he’s trying to do out there. I understand it. It’s not real comfortable all the time. He’s had some of those, but obviously the end product, he wasn’t going to let certain situations beat him."