By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:00 AM EDT, September 22, 2013
One thing lost in Saturday’s game was the fact that Miguel Gonzalez posted another quality start, his 28th in 42 starts as an Oriole.
It wasn’t particularly pretty; he walked five, which tied his career and season high. And it was against a tired and spotty Rays offense. But it was effective enough to keep the Orioles in the game, which they ultimately lost 5-1.
That’s the thing with this rotation: For the most part, these guys will keep most games close. But with the exception of Chris Tillman, no one has consistently done more than keep it close this season.
The rotation is a collection of Nos. 4s and 5s. It needs to find a No. 1 or, if Tillman becomes that guy, a No. 2. Gonzalez, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris (or a host of others) can certainly handle the back end.
The problem, of course, is that most of the available free-agent starting pitchers in 2014 are back-end guys. Matt Garza is the best available, and I don’t consider him an ace. So the Orioles' seemingly endless (and fruitless) search for that front-liner will continue, with the hope that eventually Kevin Gausman (or Dylan Bundy) can fill the void.
** Chris Davis picked up another Orioles record on Saturday with his 93rd extra-base hit of the season, topping Brady Anderson’s 92 in 1996. Davis was joking about it afterward, because the hit was ruled a triple. It probably should have been an out, but left fielder David DeJesus misplayed it.
Since DeJesus never touched the ball, though, it was ruled a hit, and Davis hustled around to third for his first big league triple since 2009. The guy is due a cheapie every now and then.
** I’m thinking we have seen the last of Tsuyoshi Wada. Or, really, we won't be seeing the first of him. Wada, the lefty import from Japan the Orioles signed to a two-year deal for just over $8 million before the 2012 season, has yet to throw a big league pitch.
If there was any time for Wada to be recalled, it would have been Saturday, when the Orioles were searching for bullpen replacements and Wada was less than an hour away in Sarasota, Fla. Instead, the Orioles recalled left-handers Zach Britton and Mike Belfiore.
The Orioles have a $5 million option on Wada's contract for 2015, but it won't be picked up. It's fair to say that Wada, who is 16 months removed from Tommy John surgery, won't ever pitch in orange and black unless he agrees to a good-faith minor league deal this winter.
** At the beginning of the season I refused to buy the Tampa Bay Rays as a contender. I know pitching gets you to the postseason, and the Rays had plenty. But you have to hit, too, I reasoned. And I wasn’t impressed at all by their offense in March.
I’m still not. But the Rays control their own destiny in the wild-card hunt. And they should get one of the two available spots. I’ll give credit where it is due: Consistent starting pitching can mask so many other woes. I guess I forgot that in March.
** The Rays have announced their starter for today: Enny Romero, a hard-throwing lefty and one of the Rays' better prospects. Romero was 11-7 with a 2.76 ERA at Double-A. He'll be making his big league debut.
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