MINNEAPOLIS — With the Orioles scheduled to face a string of right-handed pitchers over the next week, manager Buck Showalter gave outfielder Nolan Reimold his first start since Saturday in Wednesday's series finale against the Minnesota Twins.
Playing time has been sporadic for Reimold, a right-handed hitter who entered Wednesday's game batting .333/.378/.619 in 19 games. He has hit safely in each of his last five starts, going 7-for-18 over that stretch.
Showalter gave an off day to designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, who is showing signs of breaking out of his early-seson struggles with hits in three of his last four games.
"I really don't want Nolan to sit too long," Showalter said. "He's in a good place. Petey's been swinging the bat well. He'll be back out there [Thursday]."
Even though Twins starter Phil Hughes is a right-hander, he is a reverse-split pitcher, meaning he holds left-handers (.262) to a lower career batting average than right-handers (.272).
However, lefties are hitting .342 against Hughes this season. Reimold is 3-for-8 against him in his career.
"If you're ever going to get Nolan out there, [it is today]," Showalter said. "It actually gives [Mark Trumbo] a DH day. It makes us maybe a little better defensively because [starter Tyler Wilson's] not a guy who strikes a lot of guys out. The biggest thing is getting Nolan in the mix. … Looking at the pitchers from for the next [week], I don't think we see a left-handers for another week. I want to make sure that Nolan is in the flow.
McFarland back soon?: Left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, who tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings in his first start at Triple-A Norfolk since getting optioned to the minors, could return to the major league club when he's eligible next Tuesday, but the Orioles will face another difficult roster dilemma in recalling him.
McFarland would be next in line to pitch Sunday for the Tides, and his mandatory 10-day minor-league tenure would allow him to be recalled on Tuesday. McFarland was optioned before the first game of Saturday's split doubleheader and was then added as the team's 26th man for the nightcap. The Orioles still received credit for that day toward his mandatory 10 days in the minors.
Of course, Showalter likes the option of having a left-handed long man, but right-hander Mychal Givens is the only reliever with options. Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright both have options, but are currently in the rotation.
The Orioles were able to carry an extra reliever by playing with a three-man bench, but the injury to J.J. Hardy made that increasingly difficult. Ryan Flaherty, usually the team's utility man, has been the starting third baseman on most nights with Manny Machado shifting to shortstop. The Orioles added utility man Paul Janish from Triple-A Norfolk to be the team's only reserve infielder and a shortstop against left-handed pitching.
Machado tries to make something happen: The call for Manny Machado to break for second base with runners at the corners and one out in the first inning on Tuesday night – a play that ran the Orioles out of a promising scoring situation with slugger Chris Davis at the plate – wasn't made from the dugout.
Machado, who twice unsuccessfully attempted to steal third base to end innings with Davis at the plate, broke for second but wasn't didn't make a straight line to the bag. The intent was for Ryan Flaherty, the baserunner on third, to brake for home once the throw left catcher Kurt Suzuki's hand.
But Flaherty hesitated in heading home, and with shortstop Eduardo Nunez not threatened by Flaherty's late break, he chased Machado back to the first-base bag and tagged him in a rundown to end the inning.