The look Andrew Cashner gave manager Buck Showalter on Sunday afternoon was first of confusion, then frustration as Showalter emerged from the dugout to pull Cashner with two outs in the sixth inning and the Orioles clinging to a one-run lead.
Cashner, making his first start since July 10 after a brief disabled list stint following a pressure-point injection in his neck, had thrown just 79 pitches. The Orioles were leading 2-1 and Cashner had put runners at the corners following a double by Randal Grichuk and a walk to Kendrys Morales.
Cashner stood on the mound for a few moments before giving the ball to Showalter, muttering to himself while walking back to the dugout. After the game, Showalter said he had Cashner on a pitch count of 70 to 80 pitches or five to six innings, but Cashner said he knew nothing about that going into the game.
“I’m sure he was pitching carefully [to Morales] with a base open,” Showalter said. “That was about the extent of it. I welcome his effort to want staying in the game. I’ve been around enough of them looking for you to help them. That’s why we like him so much. I wasn’t going to tell him exactly how many he was going to throw today because that doesn’t [help sometimes].”
Cashner has acknowledged it’s been a frustrating season for him. On Sunday, he was one out shy of his 10th quality start in 19 outings this season and was denied his first win in more than two months. Cashner is winless in eight straight starts, with his last victory May 21 against the Chicago White Sox. His record is 2-9, and the Orioles are 5-14 in games he’s started, which isn’t indicative of how well he’s pitched to help his team win on most nights.
“I thought I made some pitches throughout the game today,” Cashner said. “I thought maybe if I make some other pitches earlier in the game, maybe I stay in there. But it’s not my call. I have to respect that. I have a lot of respect for Buck, so it’s just be more efficient early and maybe I stay in there.”
Cashner had allowed just one run on five hits over his first five innings. He benefited from a pair of double-play balls, but still managed went through the Toronto batting order twice with little harm.
Showalter and Cashner met after the game to clear the air.
“Yeah, I wanted to talk to him just kind of [about] where I thought I was at,” Cashner said. “I didn’t know I was on a pitch count. Had I known that, maybe I would do things different. It’s his decision. I have to respect that.”
“We talked after the game,” Showalter said. “That’s the least of my worries. I’d like to have more guys like him.”