He sent recently acquired rookie Luis Ortiz to the mound Friday night for his first major league start only to remove him from the game after just 1 2/3 innings with an injury.
The fact that the Orioles ended up wasting two home runs by Trey Mancini and suffering a soggy 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox before an announced crowd of 18,265 at Camden Yards is all but irrelevant at this point.
The pitching situation is in such a sorry state that the Orioles (42-105) are literally running out of candidates to fill the rotation. Alex Cobb left after two innings with a bleeding finger Tuesday night and Andrew Cashner complained of knee soreness after getting hammered in the third inning Wednesday.
Ortiz was in the midst of a rocky outing when he tried to cover first base and came up limping. He suffered a hamstring strain, but the severity of it was not immediately known.
“It’s really unfortunate,’’ Mancini said. “I know he was excited to make his first major league start and it really stinks that it got cut short like that.”
That made it three of four games in which Showalter has needed at least seven innings of relief.
So, the Orioles can both curse the fates and be thankful it is September, when the roster limit has been expanded to 40 players and the roster moves are basically unlimited.
They called up two relievers Friday — Evan Phillips and Donnie Hart — to bolster the staff for the weekend and still look like they’re going to be strapped with Yefry Ramírez coming back out of the bullpen to make Saturday’s start and no one yet identified to pitch Sunday.
The White Sox (58-89) aren’t exactly tearing up the American League Central, where they’re in fourth place and aren’t entirely out of the running for their own 100-loss season, but they looked like a playoff team against Ortiz and his understudies.
The Sox scored a run in the first inning and two more in the second, one of those scoring on an RBI triple by former Orioles prospect Nicky Delmonico. Two-run homers by Omar Narváez in the third and Avisaíl García in the fifth seemed to put the Sox safely ahead, but it would get interesting.
White Sox veteran James Shields delivered a solid six-inning effort that was marred only by the pair of line drives into the left-field bleachers by Mancini, whose roller-coaster offensive season might again be on the upswing. The homers were his 22nd and 23rd of the year.
Mancini batted just .200 on the recent nine-game road trip, but has hit safely in each of the past three games. He said after the game that there’s motivation for everyone on the team to keep grinding until the end of the season.
“I think for all of us there is,’’ he said. “We all want to go out there every day and do well for the team first and then, on the personal level, you always want to go out there and get the results you work hard for. So, yeah, we’re going to keep doing that.”
Shields worked six innings, allowed just four hits and struck out five, but what looked like a pretty safe victory was quickly thrown into doubt by the Chicago bullpen.
The Orioles loaded the bases against reliever Aaron Bummer and pinch hitter Corban Joseph lined a two-run single to center field off rookie Ian Hamilton. The Orioles would also get a run on an infield error and another a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones to make it a one-run game.
The White Sox answered with a run in the eighth on the first major league hit and homer by rookie outfielder Ryan Cordell.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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