Thanks to all the things they do well — hit home runs, play defense and provide shutdown relief outings — the Orioles weren't burned Friday by their efforts to develop the starting pitching that would represent the final piece of their playoff puzzle.
Starter Mike Wright ran into trouble against the heart of the order after cruising through five innings in the Orioles' 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Unlike what would happen to most young starters, manager Buck Showalter didn't come running out of the dugout to come get him.
Wright said he appreciated that, and Showalter said it's necessary for both Wright and the organization.
"We're trying to win games and trying to develop young pitchers at the same time," Showalter said. "Taking them out every time there is a problem out there is not a way to develop young pitchers."
In that eventful sixth inning, the Orioles saw a 4-1 lead disappear, with the runs appearing on Wright's ledger. Angels center fielder Mike Trout singled, designated hitter Albert Pujols walked, and Wright slammed his glove in frustration as his biggest jam of the night developed.
"You know Mike, he wants something so bad and sometimes he can't get out of his own way," Showalter said. "But that is why you like him. He loves to compete and he wants to get everybody out and every pitch be perfect. And I'm not going to take that away from him."
Wright rebounded to strike out first baseman C.J. Cron, but second baseman Johnny Giavotella singled Trout home. Showalter remained in the dugout, two men still on with one out.
"When I'm out there on the mound, I feel like I'm the best guy for the job," Wright said. "It's exciting that Buck feels the same way. I felt good. I got a lot of ground balls today, which doesn't always happen, but in that situation, I really needed a double play. I was pretty confident that I was going to get it, and I'm glad he saw the same thing."
He nearly did, with a ground ball to first baseman Chris Davis prompting a throw to second base to start a possible inning-ending double play. But Davis' throw hit Giavotella, whom Showalter believed was out of the base path. Everyone was safe.
That marked the end of Wright's day, and two more runs scored off reliever Mychal Givens, though they were both unearned because of the Davis error. A Davis home run, shutout relief from Darren O'Day and Brad Brach, and a half-dozen great defensive plays made it so leaving Wright in didn't hurt the Orioles.
With both Wright and Tyler Wilson, that third time through the order is going to be the difference. Wright entered the game with opponents batting .333/.429/.526 the third time through the order, and allowed two hits and two walks to the six hitters who saw him a third time Friday.
Wilson, who uncharacteristically struggled with command in Thursday's loss to the Seattle Mariners, got tagged for four runs on his third trip through the order, including a three-run home run by first baseman Adam Lind. Opponents are batting .417/.483/.583 the third time through against Wilson, but just .188 combined on their first and second time seeing him.
Showalter said the challenge of needing to fix his command with such high stakes is something Wilson can learn from.
"I know what he's thinking right now — I've got to work on this between now and my next start so it doesn't happen again," he said. "He's very effective when he has command. That's one of his fortes, so to see him go through that was unusual for us. But he survived it. Didn't cave in, and figured out a way to get some outs."
Wright, for his part, took blame for his own issue. He said he wasn't able to throw his slider and kept trying when he should have given it up, chalking that up to his youth. If nothing else, he acknowledges how far he has to come in some sense.
"My fastball is my pitch, and it was getting me good ground balls," Wright said. "I should have just stuck with it, but it's part of the game, part of learning. Everybody's going to say I'm young, I need to mature, because I'm the one out there calling the game, but it's fun. I've got to let my defense work, though."