Despite two-game skid and off day, Orioles in first place in AL East

TAMPA, Fla. – Even though they've lost two straight and are coming off a day off Monday, the Orioles woke up in first place in the American League East following the New York Yankees' 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim.

The Yankees' loss last night – during which Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected by home plate umpire Laz Diaz for arguing a strike call – made me think of a question asked to Buck Showalter before Sunday's game in Minnesota.


Showalter was asked whether he missed the heated arguments with umpires now that the new expanded replay system is in effect.

"I can find enough things to make me mad," Showalter said. "It doesn't have to be with an umpire ... I have enough things to keep my spirit up."

Showalter added that it has changed his relationships with umpires.

"So far it has," Showalter said. "They're very accommodating."

Showalter has enough issues right now trying to save his bullpen. He has made it clear that he's worried that some of the Orioles' short outings from their starters will catch up with them. Over the past few games, he has been forced to pitch relievers in situations he didn't want them in.

T.J. McFarland, who was scratched from Monday's start at Triple-A Norfolk, is expected to join the team for Tuesday's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. That will help. He'd likely serve as the team's long man with right-hander Chris Tillman making the start.

Tillman is 2-6 with a 4.90 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rays, but he has a 3.13 ERA in four career starts at Tropicana Field.

Manny Machado is 3-for-7 against Rays starter Chris Archer, and J.J. Hardy is 4-for-10. Adam Jones is 0-for-10 with four strikeouts against the right-hander.

Ryan Flaherty hasn't played since Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader, and that was his only action since April 26.

But Flaherty is 3-for-7 against Archer, so it will be interesting to see if he cracks the lineup. He was 2-for-5 with a homer against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes in his career, but he didn't start against him Sunday.