The last time right-hander Logan Verrett pitched the Orioles through extra innings, his reward was a ticket back to Triple-A Norfolk.
Whether that happens again remains to be seen after Verrett tossed three scoreless frames in extra innings until the Orioles could walk off with a 5-4, 12-inning win over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, but the right-hander's steadiness with the game on the line has quickly become evident.
The Orioles' ability to shuttle optionable relievers between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk has been valuable in the season's first five weeks, and twice the Orioles have entrusted Verrett to provide length in extra innings. Both times, he ended up as the winning pitcher. He also pitched two scoreless innings in the Orioles' 11-inning win at Yankee Stadium on April 30.
"That's just how I drew it up, my first two outings with the Orioles," Verrett joked. "That's how I dreamt it would go. I was just trying to keep us in that ballgame. As long as we're the home team in extra innings, we're always going to have a chance to win it."
Both times Verrett was used in part by necessity. The Orioles received the deep start they needed from right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 7 2/3 innings. But Verrett was the only available reliever who could provide length after Mychal Givens provided 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief of Jimenez.
"Logan, that was a key for us because we only had really three pitchers tonight out of the bullpen, so we had to do some things differently with everybody, including Ubaldo," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That was a challenge for him. We were contemplating about sending [Wade] Miley out to the bullpen. We were hoping to stay away from that. But Logan was, considering he had eight days off, too, that was pretty impressive. But he did a lot of work in between. That's twice Logan has done that for us."
Verrett overcame some trouble in the 10th, allowing a leadoff single to Brian Goodwin. He struck out Trea Turner looking and got Jayson Werth looking – getting both on sliders -- and then walked Bryce Harper intentionally to face hot-hitting first baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Verrett maintained his aggressiveness, getting ahead of Zimmerman 0-2 and retiring him on three pitches by inducing a grounder to second.
"He had it working," Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. "Those were some nasty pitches, and he's came up huge twice for us, and thrown a few innings at a time each time, and we wouldn't be here if he didn't do it."
From there, Verrett sent the Nationals down in order in the 11th and overcame a leadoff single in the 12th when Turner hit into a 7-4-3 double play to end the inning on a base-running gaffe by Goodwin.
"I was just trying to keep it close, make pitches," Verrett said. "Fortunately, I was able to get some early contact and keep my pitch count pretty low. Guys made some great plays, [left fielder Craig] Gentry relaying and getting that double play. That was big time. You kind of feel like with this team, it's just a matter of time until we score. There's never really a doubt in that dugout."
Verrett was optioned back to Norfolk the day after his scoreless outing against the Yankees, but returned before having to remain the mandatory 10 days in the minors because his recall was part of a corresponding DL move.
Still, Verrett went into Tuesday's game likely to pitch even though he had eight days off.
"The challenge is just staying sharp, and you do that through flat grounds and mound work in short increments just so you can stay fresh for that night," Verrett said. "But we're professionals, and that's what we have to do, and we're paid to do that. I'm glad I was able to go out there and help the team."
After the game, Showalter was ready to consult executive vice president Dan Duquette and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells to gauge whether the team needed to add another reliever, in which case Verrett could be the choice to place on the Norfolk shuttle.
"We've got to check on [a lot]," Showalter said. "It's hard to know whether [Brad] Brach or [Darren] O'Day will be available tomorrow, whether Mychal [Givens] will be available. A lot of those things, you can't make that decision until tomorrow. And I didn't want to use [Alec] Asher again tonight. … [Pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] and I made the decision we weren't gonna use three or four of our guys tonight regardless."