String of short starts, including Tyler Wilson's, straining Orioles undermanned bullpen

Tyler Wilson grabbed his wallet and a carton of food from his locker, ready to go, but before he could escape the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field and begin to leave a nightmare start behind, pitching coach Dave Wallace cornered him and put a consoling arm around his shoulder.

It's enough to have to deal with retiring just nine batters, allowing eight earned runs, and giving up three towering home runs in a 12-6 loss, as he did Saturday. It's another entirely to have to be an avatar for the latest slide of the Orioles' unsteady starting rotation.


No one, not even Wilson, is excusing the performance that helped the Mariners take a third straight game from the Orioles. But their problems run deeper than him — that much everyone will admit.

"We have to play games every night, and pitchers pitch every fifth day," manager Buck Showalter said. "If there's an adjustment to be made, he'll make it. We talked to him, he's tried to make some adjustments, but he's not the only one. We just haven't been able to get very deep in games with our starters for what's been a pretty extended period, with some exceptions. That puts a real toll on your bullpen."

Wilson's three-inning start was the 19th in which the Orioles' starter didn't reach the sixth inning in the last 30 games — and nearly all of that stretch has been endured without All-Star setup man Darren O'Day, shelved with a high hamstring strain that's progressing slowly.

"It's really been a challenge," Showalter said. "Nothing that getting Darren O'Day and deeper pitching from our guys back into play [doesn't help]."

After Wilson's outing, the rotation has a 5.07 ERA, and is averaging just under 5 2/3 innings per start. His contribution to those numbers going in the wrong direction came down to the execution of his pitches, and the crispness of them.

"He's just not quite as crisp as he was," Showalter said. "He's in the 80-plus inning mark, and he's just not carrying the same crispness that he had earlier in the season. It happens with a lot of pitchers that are pitching every fifth day up here. … He's going to have to be pretty fine, and he always is. He's a guy with three pitches, keeps the ball down, and doesn't beat himself. He's been beating himself lately. But he's a good man with a good constitution. He'll keep battling."

"It's a frustrating thing," Wilson said. "Executed some good pitches and they got hits, and made some really poor pitches and they made me pay for it. I just need to do a better job of managing situations. That's my M.O., game management. I did not do a very good job of that tonight."

The string of short starts has put incredible strain on the Orioles' bullpen. Showalter indicated a move was in the works to try and get an arm out to Seattle for Sunday's game, if not for Monday in Los Angeles, after long reliever Vance Worley was spent Saturday.

Dylan Bundy and Odrisamer Despaigne could provide multiple innings in case Ubaldo Jimenez's start goes sideways, but short of that, the Orioles bullpen is thin. Showalter said he expects Mychal Givens may be available again after using him Saturday night for 1 1/3 innings, but Chaz Roe will not be after pitching two straight days.

"It's kind of tough out here this far away," he said. "You've got to prepare before games, which you try to do, and during the games, which we tried to do."

Despite it all, catcher Matt Wieters said the team isn't worrying much about their pitching staff.

"It's not concerning," he said. "We are going to have to keep working and get better. We're in a good spot now and we just have to continue to improve. Our staff works hard and they'll keep working hard and we'll get the best out of them."

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