The Orioles entered the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s loss with a 4-1 lead, but the game unraveled because the bullpen was shorthanded and manager Buck Showalter felt he had to leave rookie Kevin Gausman in for a second inning against the heart of the New York Yankees lineup.
That didn’t go well. The Yankees scored four times in the eighth inning and the Orioles missed an opportunity to pull within a half-game of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League wild-card position. Gausman, in his first eighth-inning hold situation, allowed three quick runs without getting an out.
So, you’re probably asking, how could the bullpen be shorthanded when the rosters have expanded to a 40-man limit and the Orioles have 16 active pitchers?
Showalter was cryptic, but he indicated that a couple of pitchers were unavailable on Tuesday night. Considering the game unraveled in the eighth and setup guys Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and Troy Patton were nowhere to be seen, you can probably draw your own conclusions. O’Day has pitched just once since Sept. ,1 and left-hander Troy Patton has pitched just once since Aug. 31. Hunter has been on a normal schedule and pitched on Monday night.
If this weren’t mid-September and the Orioles weren’t embroiled in a four-team wild card race, maybe Showalter would have been more open, but he doesn’t want Yankees manager Joe Girardi to know just who is and who isn’t available to him in the bullpen.
When he was asked why Francisco Rodriguez was not brought in sooner, he alluded to K-Rod’s ineffectiveness holding runners as the reason he didn’t use him until after Alfonso Soriano’s tie-breaking two-run homer.
The good news is that the Rays and Indians also lost, keeping the Orioles tied with Cleveland 1 ½ games behind the Rays. The bad news is that a victory would have not only moved them closer to the Rays, it also would have pushed the Yankees back far enough that they would have been guaranteed of leaving town still behind the O’s.
The clock keeps ticking. There are just 18 games left to play and every ensuing game takes on increased importance. It’s possible that the most important opportunity the Orioles missed on Tuesday night was the chance to push the Indians back, as they are the one serious contender for the second wild card that is playing outside the AL East.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun