Buck Showalter managed his first game as an Oriole on Tuesday night.
And the Orioles won, their fourth victory since the all-star break.
There were a lot of things that were impressive Tuesday. Perhaps what struck me most was the announced crowd of 16,723, which cheered in all the right places without help from the scoreboard.
They roared when Showalter was announced, when he walked to the plate to exchange lineup cards, when he came out to check on a potentially injured Cesar Izturis and when the Orioles handed him his first Baltimore win.
Said starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie – who pitched well again Tuesday, by the way: "I thought it was a good crowd tonight. They introduced Buck as the manager, and I heard cheering as I was warming up. When he walked onto the field to present the lineups to the umpires, the same thing. So it felt like Opening Day a little bit. It felt like a nice Opening Day for us."
I don't want to make too much of Tuesday's victory. It was just No. 33 on the season, and it's August. We all get that. But it was a nice night at Camden Yards, regardless.
What interested me most was watching Showalter manage. During the past month, I've talked to a bunch of people who have worked under Showalter, and they have all spoken about his preparedness and how he puts his players in a situation to win.
And so I was intrigued by his first real piece of managing: in the ninth inning Tuesday with the Orioles up 6-3. Lefty Michael Gonzalez had already pitched one scoreless inning, and Showalter summoned him to pitch again in the ninth – even though it was a save situation and closer Alfredo Simon was warming up.
Go by the book, and bring in your closer. That's what every manager I have ever covered would have done. But Showalter left Gonzalez in to face lefty Hideki Matsui, who struck out. Then Showalter stuck with Gonzalez to turn around switch-hitter Alberto Callaspo, and he grounded out.
With one out needed, Showalter called for Simon, even though it was no longer a save situation for the O's closer. And Simon struck out Howie Kendrick.
Asked about the moves after the game, Showalter said: "The matchup was a lot better. Gonzo, I've been watching him throw the ball and talking to [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and some of the guys. And I liked the switch-hitters turned around. The tough call was Hunter [in the eighth with one on and two outs]. That's a tie ballgame at worst, though, and we like our chances at home with the last at-bat. Take our chances."
That's a guy who is not managing scared.
He followed that up with his best line of the day: "Believe me, I know the save rule and, quite frankly, it doesn't carry much weight with me. I like the win rule a little bit better."
That's a guy with an edge.
And that combination is what I'll be left with weeks after this game. My first impression is Showalter is a guy who is managing to win and not managing not to lose. My second impression is that he looked a lot like Earl Weaver when he took the lineup card out to home plate.
Daily Think Special: What are your first impressions of Buck Showalter as Orioles manager?