Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who took exception to an inside pitch from starter Mike Wright that nicked his jersey in the bottom of the first inning, said he didn’t want to turn Saturday’s events into “TMZ or a gossip column.” (Though his in-game reaction might have provoked umpire CB Bucknor’s warning to both teams and later heavy-handedness.)
Shortly after Bautista was awarded first base, Toronto manager John Gibbons quickly was ejected for arguing the warning, but even he wasn’t quick to say that Wright had plunked Bautista, the eighth time the Orioles had hit him.
“I’ve got no idea,” Gibbons said. “I do know you have to pitch him in tight to be effective, or he’ll kill you. But considering the history that’s been going on around here, enough is enough.”
Adam Jones said he also was surprised that warnings were issued so early in the game.
“I wasn’t too happy when the warnings came out immediately, but the umpires are trying to get a hold of the game," he said. "I understand it. We are just here to play baseball. Didn’t bother us."
Jones was hit in the eighth by Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna, bringing the tying run to the plate, but he declined to say whether it was intentional.
“That’s not up to me to decide,” Jones said. “That’s up to you to decide. It doesn’t matter. It helped my wOBA [weighted on-base average] and my on-base percentage.”
-- Looking slightly ahead to Sunday afternoon’s game, the Blue Jays starting pitcher is a former Orioles farmhand with whom some fans might not be familiar.
Back in 2012, Blue Jays right-hander Scott Copeland was on the same High-A Frederick team as current Orioles Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson.
But Copeland, a 21st-round draft pick in 2010 out of Southern Miss, was released by the Orioles in July 2012 after posting a 3-8 record and 6.88 ERA in 18 starts for the Keys.
Two days later, he signed with Toronto, and three years later, he has made an unlikely climb to the majors.
“When I got here to the Blue Jays, they were more hands-on with me there,” Copeland said. “They were working with me, helping me with some stuff, kind of changing some things with me. But mainly, it was getting back to the basics and having fun again. I remember my last year in Frederick, I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t doing good. When you’re not doing good, it’s hard to have fun.”
After starting the year 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA at Triple-A Buffalo this season, the 27-year-old Copeland is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four appearances (two starts) with the Blue Jays. He will be making his third career big league start and first against his old organization. Copeland conceded that pitching well against the Orioles would mean a little more.
“A little bit,” Copeland said. “They drafted me. They gave me my first opportunity to play and then they released me, so it was kind of bittersweet.”
He’s still trying to develop a routine, having pitched as a starter and reliever. He has been promoted five times this season and sent down four, so he knows a demotion can be just one bad outing away.
“It’s living out of a suitcase, for sure,” he said. “It’s hard. But I’ll do it any day of the week. Living out of a suitcase is tough, but someone has to do it.”
-- The Orioles likely will have to make a roster move to replenish their bullpen after Wilson threw 5 2/3 innings in relief of Wright.
After speaking to the media following Friday’s loss, Showalter praised Wilson’s effort. He allowed one run and five hits, and because of the long outing, Showalter indicated that Wilson might be the odd man out.
The most likely option to join the club would be right-hander Oliver Drake, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on June 3. He’s already on the 40-man roster and has shown he can give the Orioles some length.
Drake is 0-1 with a 0.76 ERA and 11 saves in 21 appearances with Norfolk. He posted a 3.52 ERA in five appearances with the Orioles.