ARLINGTON, TX — Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph crouched behind home plate and watched a big chunk of his club’s pitching youth movement parade to the mound Friday night at Globe Life Park.
Starter David Hess struggled badly in the Texas Rangers’ seven-run fourth inning. Newly arrived rookies Evan Phillips and Cody Carroll combined to pitch three perfect innings of middle relief. Mike Wright Jr. struggled after putting together a nice stretch of appearances over the past three weeks.
Joseph dissected several of those performances, but he first wanted to make a point about what’s going on right now, with the Orioles embarking on a rebuilding plan that could take the next couple of years.
He wanted to dispel the notion that what happens in the game the rest of this season isn’t important.
“There is something to play for,” Joseph said. “There are a lot of younger players that are auditioning for next year and even some of us older players. We’re auditioning for next year. Each game really matters. Opportunities are really thin in the big leagues and it’s really important for each and every guy to come out there and do their best. If I’m a pitcher, I’m scratching and clawing to get out there and throw up zeros. There are openings all over the place on this staff.
”You have to seize the moment and take advantage of the opportunities at hand. It’s not going to be there over and over and over. They are looking for guys that can get outs now and some of these guys need to take advantage of their opportunity and not let it pass them by. Same for some of us older guys. We’re getting a chance to play more than usual and we need to take advantage of that.”
Joseph watched Hess struggle and saw the same things that have plagued the young right-hander through a string of five difficult starts.
“He’s gotta be able to locate his pitches,’’ Joseph said. “It is really tough to pitch, not only behind in the count here but when you are not executing pitches. We have lots of information on these guys and we’d like to exploit a lot of their weaknesses. But we can’t get the ball where we want to get it. And you end up having games like we’ve had the past two nights.”
The two rookie relievers pitched well. Phillips made his Orioles debut and got six straight outs — three with strikeouts. Carroll came on and got three fly balls in his second scoreless outing since coming over in the Zach Britton deal.
“Perfect example of what I was talking about,’’ Joseph said. “These guys are new. They’re hungry. They’re trying to make a good impression. They looked really good. Cody has a really nice angle. He’s a taller guy. He’s got a good angle on his fastball. I’m really impressed with that. He’s got a really explosive heater.
“It’s one of those things where both of them, they threw really well. They got away with a few pitches. There’s going to be kind of an adjustment period you get into and then you’d like to see where they’re at two or three weeks from now once the book’s out on them and everything like that.”