The Orioles have been able to catch up on their sleep after completing two games over a 20-hour span in Boston.
Their stretch of 15 consecutive games against American League East opponents -- there were 16 scheduled games but one home game against the Tampa Bay Rays was rained out -- ends with three games against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
After winning Monday’s Patriots' Day game in Boston, the Orioles are now 16-8 in their last 24 games at Fenway Park. They haven’t had that kind of recent success in Toronto. The Orioles were 4-6 at the Rogers Centre in 2013, losing five of their last seven there, including a three-game sweep in June.
The Orioles haven’t won a season series in Toronto since 2005, when they were 6-4 there. Since then, they are 21-53 at Rogers Centre.
As important as the four games in Boston were, it might be more important to play well in Toronto, which has been such a house of horrors for the Orioles.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is looking forward to finally getting into a daily routine, with the entire series being played at night.
The Orioles had two sets of day-after-night games in Boston, including the 11:05 a.m. start Monday. They opened the season with six day games in their first nine, including a stretch of five straight day games that resembled spring training more than the regular season.
“Of course we are [looking forward to it],” Showalter said of moving into a more normal schedule. "You’d like to get on some type of routine where weekends are day games and weekdays are night games. We all know why it’s happened. We don’t have any say-so over start times on the road and shouldn’t. It’s their gig, and they say, we play, we play. I think you’ll hear less complaining about it in our locker room than any place you go. Certainly everybody has their private thoughts about it.”
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said the team will make no excuses about the start times.
"The game's a game," Jones said. They say what time you show up, and you've got to show up. A win's a win, so you take it. ... Excuses are what you're looking for. We don't make them. We show up. They say it's an 11 o'clock game, so you show up at 11 o'clock, ready to play."
We expect to see left-hander T.J. McFarland in Toronto tonight. McFarland left the Orioles’ Triple-A team in Norfolk and flew north to join the club in Canada.
The bullpen definitely needs help. Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day all pitched back-to-back games. Tommy Hunter went through a 25-pitch ninth inning Monday.
After the Orioles’ 7-6 win over the Red Sox on Monday, Showalter said that there would be three relievers he wouldn’t pitch tonight. You’ve got to assume it’s Britton, Matusz and O’Day.
It would help if the Orioles starters were able to go deeper in games. On Sunday, Ubaldo Jimenez lasted just 5 1/3 innings, and Wei-Yin Chen went just five innings Monday.
“It’s very easy to get frustrated with pitchers,” Showalter said. “But these are the world champions over here. They grind out pitchers. ... He knows, they know. God knows [pitching coach] Dave [Wallace] knows. We got to get into some sixth and seventh innings. Otherwise, we are going to be back making moves with our bullpen.”
There was an unquestionable level of intensity on both Sunday and Monday, and after Monday’s win, Showalter made it an immediate point to praise Ryan Flaherty for bouncing back and playing well after he was charged with a costly error in a two-run seventh inning that allowed Boston to tie Sunday's game.
While trying to turn what would have been an inning-ending double play, Flaherty fell victim to the new transfer rule, which forces fielders to maintain possession through the transfer from the glove hand to the throwing hand to get the out. Flaherty dropped the transfer, and the runner at second was called safe.
Flaherty was solid defensively Monday at shortstop. In the eighth inning, he gave the Orioles a three-run lead with big two-out hit to score Steve Clevenger. The Orioles would end up needing that run.
“If you know Ryan, nobody beats themselves up more,” Showalter said. “And he came back today, that’s one good thing about an 11 o'clock game, you come right back -- that’s about the only good thing about an 11 o’clock game. Well, there are other good things about it. But I’m proud of him coming in, getting a really big knock for us, playing a flawless shortstop. Those are things you take out of it. That’s why they are different than the rest of us. They can do that. We got a lot of mentally tough guys here.”
The Orioles will need more of that kind of play from Flaherty, especially if starting shortstop J.J. Hardy’s strained hamstring forces him to miss extended time.