BOSTON — As seen during this week’s homestand at Camden Yards, the Orioles typically do all they can to avoid doubleheaders — and the obstacles they bring — but playing one Saturday in Boston could prove beneficial to the Orioles in more ways than one.
The Orioles' scheduled Fourth of July game today against the Red Sox at Fenway Park was postponed because of inclement weather nearly three hours before its scheduled start. The game will be made up as the first of a split-admission doubleheader at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. Game 2 will start at 7:15 p.m.
Local forecasts called for storms throughout the day and into the night here in Boston as Hurricane Arthur made its way up the East Coast.
The Orioles weren't involved in the decision to play a doubleheader tomorrow, even though they probably will benefit from it. According to Article V, Section C of Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have the unique right to reschedule a postponed home game as a split-admission doubleheader without the other team's consent. Otherwise, both teams must agree on makeup dates.
That rule, created in the 1990s to account for the relatively smaller capacities of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, also was invoked in April, when the Red Sox forced the Tampa Bay Rays to play a doubleheader on a getaway day after a rainout, instead of on a common day off or as part of a doubleheader later in the season.
After a rain-delayed, 5-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, the Orioles' charter flight wasn't available until about 2 a.m., and their team flight didn't arrive in Boston until 4 a.m. Luckily for the Orioles, today's game was postponed before the team bus left the team hotel Friday morning.
The Orioles also will have the benefit of adding a 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader. In addition, third baseman Manny Machado will return from his five-game suspension in Game 2, so the club's number of available players will go from 24 to 26 between games.
The club will stay on turn with its rotation. Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who was scheduled to pitch Friday afternoon, will start Game 1 Saturday. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will remain the starter in Saturday's night game. Jimenez is 0-5 with a 10.55 ERA in five day starts, compared with a 3-3, 2.53 mark at night.
Jimenez hasn't fared well against the Red Sox, going 1-3 with a 9.31 ERA in six career starts — he also has a 9.31 ERA in two starts at Fenway Park over 9 2/3 innings — but the Orioles, under the "26th man" rule for doubleheaders, likely will have the benefit of an extra reliever behind Jimenez. Left-hander T.J. McFarland will be available again after his spot start Tuesday, giving the club at least eight relievers in the bullpen.
When a game is rained out and split doubleheader is scheduled for the next day, both teams can add an additional 26th player who must be sent back to the minors after the second game. That player doesn't need to have fulfilled the mandatory 10-day stint in the minors after being optioned, so the team could recall right-hander Evan Meek, who was optioned to Triple-A on Monday and last pitched for the Tides on Wednesday.
The club will have to make an additional roster move before Sunday's game to recall right-hander Kevin Gausman to start the series finale in Boston, likely sending a bullpen arm out. The club announced Friday that Gausman, who threw 29 pitches in an abbreviated two-inning start Wednesday for short-season Single-A Aberdeen, will start Sunday.
The most likely option to be sent down to make room for Gausman is right-hander Ramon Ramirez, but Ramirez has no minor league options remaining and would have to clear waivers before being outrighted back to Triple-A Norfolk.
Meanwhile, right-hander Bud Norris, currently on the disabled list with a right groin strain, is slated to throw a simulated game at Fenway Park between games.
Norris is eligible to be activated off the disabled list Monday, and he could make that date. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has said Norris wouldn't immediately go from a bullpen session to the 25-man roster. He would need to test his groin in either a simulated game or a minor league rehabilitation game before being activated from the disabled list. Norris has thrown two bullpen sessions since going on the DL.
If Norris is activated and the club keeps Gausman on the 25-man roster after his start Sunday, it would give the Orioles six starters again and a seven-man bullpen going forward. Gausman was sent to the minors after going 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in a three-start span because he was one of the few optionable arms. He struggled in his return start June 27, allowing five runs over five innings.
He was sent back to the minors again but remained nearby in Aberdeen, throwing a bullpen session and making his two-inning start there, but will make his next start at Fenway Park on Sunday. Gausman has made four career appearances against the Red Sox, including one start, and is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA.
Saturday's day game will be broadcast on MASN2. The night game is a Fox regional broadcast.