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Showalter: Orioles' Brach has already shown he can close, but could get 'a couple days' off

WASHINGTON — Orioles manager Buck Showalter said reliever Brad Brach has nothing to prove after a three-run ninth inning Wednesday cost him his ninth save as injured closer Zach Britton's deputy.

But that doesn't mean Brach will be run right back out there to show that.

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"Brad has already answered that question — I think, in my mind," Showalter said. "Whether it's the eighth inning or ninth inning, it's a hard job. I don't think [about] that part of it. I'm more concerned about keeping him healthy than I am seeing how fast I can get him back out there. I'd love to give him a couple days if I could."

Brach, an All-Star a season ago, has now converted eight of 10 save chances, with the Washington Nationals getting to him by erasing a two-run deficit to hand the Orioles a 7-6 loss Wednesday. While his hits and home runs per nine innings are almost identical to last year, Brach has seen his strikeouts per nine dip from 10.5 to 8.5 this season and his walks per nine climb from 2.8 to 3.8.

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He exited Wednesday's game with a 3.79 ERA through 19 appearances.

Showalter indicated he'll be happy to call on him again in save situations as Britton's absence is expected to stretch deeper into May and likely through June. But there are other priorities before designating someone the everyday closer.

"It's all about keeping these guys healthy," Showalter said. "I haven't tried to anoint somebody that's pitching the ninth inning every time. It's just about where we are and where they are in the lineup."

That means that while he'd be comfortable using Mychal Givens or Donnie Hart in a save situation, it will be more out of a game-driven motivation than just challenging either of his young relievers for the sake of doing so.

"It wasn't that I'd like to see it, but there may be a night where that has to happen," Showalter said. "It just depends on the matchup — I'll use any of them if the rest is there and the matchup is right."

Still, a six-man bullpen is difficult to manage during a long stretch without any days off. On Tuesday, Showalter needed to leave Ubaldo Jiménez in deep into the eighth inning because he had just three available relievers. The Orioles ended up winning in 12 innings, and after a roster move, had everyone in the bullpen but veteran Darren O'Day available Wednesday.

But Showalter used four of his five available relief options Wednesday, and has to contend with the rain Thursday as well.

"Let's be frank," Showalter said. "We're trying to get to that off-day [Monday], and if we can't and keep our people healthy, we'll make an adjustment."

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