With the man whose rotation spot Vance Worley is keeping warm rehabilitating Friday with High-A Frederick, the Orioles'right-hander said he believes he made a good case to stay in the rotation even after Kevin Gausman's return.
Worley wore a five-run second inning that began with a home run and was compounded by his own command issues, but rebounded to pitch six innings and keep the Orioles within striking distance for an 11-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday at Globe Life Park.
"I think it showed a lot to let me go back out there and get six after having that rough second inning and I felt like I was just getting stronger as the game went on," Worley said.
"[Texas] is a good hitting ballclub. They're swingers and they hit some good pitches that inning and some things didn't go our way. It's all about just keeping the guys in it. To limit it to the five runs in the six innings so we could have that big inning in the seventh, that's huge. And, it's a positive for everybody here that we can still stay in the game like that."
The Orioles staked Worley to a 1-0 lead early, but the five runs he allowed made the rest of his outing seem like a necessary prologue to a bad start in order to save the bullpen. But he retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced, yielding just one hit after the second ended, en route to a six-strikeout performance.
"It doesn't go overlooked," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's a mentally, emotionally tough thing you look for in players, that they keep competing. He made an adjustment in his pattern a little bit. They hit some balls hard after that that they caught, but he works quick, he's around the plate and guys tend to make good plays behind him. That was the key, keeping us close, within striking distance."
"I really mixed after that [second inning]," Worley said. "They were hitting cutters and sinkers, and after that I started going with some more curveballs and changeups and really just mixing both sides of the plate. I think that played a big role in that."
His struggles came after a one-out, second-inning home run by Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. The next four batters went: walk, single, walk, hit by pitch. Then center fielder Delino DeShields drove in two with a single, and right fielder Nomar Mazara drove in their fifth run on a sacrifice fly.
That he unraveled a bit after the home run mirrored his 2016 debut, when a fourth-inning home run by Corey Dickerson led Worley to be more cautious around the strike zone and throw my balls as a result
He smiled while explaining that there wasn't a link between the two capitulations.
"It's not the first home run I've given up," Worley said. "It's really about just staying positive and trusting your stuff. I have a great defense behind me. I'm not a strikeout guy, so I try to let them put the ball in play and they just found holes that inning. After that, if I didn't strike a guy out, it was good defense behind me and that plays into my game."
Worley has been the Orioles' fifth starter, but he has been worked like a spot starter considering he has been listed as TBA until two days before the starts. Gausman said in Frederick, where he had his rehab start Friday, that he felt healthy enough in his rehab from right shoulder tendinitis to return to the majors. But he acknowledged that after just 3 1/3 innings in his start there, he might need one more outing to be sure.
Showalter seems fine with Worley living in that uncertainty until his next possible turn through the rotation.
"You don't get comfortable with anything, and that's one of the reasons why he made the club," Showalter said.