CLEVELAND — The Orioles have spent the season going with their same struggling starting pitchers for lack of better options. In making his first start for the team Saturday, right-hander Gabriel Ynoa hopes he made a case that his strong second half finally gives the Orioles a quality alternative.
Ynoa allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, but manager Buck Showalter laid little of the blame at his feet.
"It was fine," Showalter said. "It's obviously a good offensive team. I thought he presented himself well. He had had a couple of good starts. He'd had his struggles, obviously in Norfolk. Had two or three good starts in a row there.
"We're going day to day right now. We're managing a lot of things other than Gabe and some of the health of our people, and trying to put our best foot forward. We wanted to see how things went today, see how he feels and see where we are after each game. Again — look at our other options."
With a rotation ERA of 5.63 entering Saturday, Ynoa's start was distinguished for how in control he was despite never starting for the Orioles before and making just five relief appearances for them.
"I was not nervous," Ynoa said through interpreter Ramón Alarcón. "I was just concentrating on the opportunity, trying to take advantage of it, trying to compete, fight and give my team a chance to win."
He featured a 94-95 mph fastball, and his slider was more effective earlier than late.
"It was not perfect, obviously, but for the first time starting, I think it was good," Ynoa said. "Hopefully, there's more to come."
Whether that's the case depends on plenty of factors, as Showalter mentioned. The Orioles rotation is mapped out through Monday, with Jeremy Hellickson pitching Sunday and Ubaldo Jiménez making his return to the rotation in Monday's series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays after a brief spell in the bullpen. From there, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will be available for Tuesday, with Wade Miley also due another start.
Around the horn: Catcher Welington Castillo returned to the lineup Saturday after missing Friday's game out of precaution, as he was monitoring a situation with his family back in Baltimore that could have required him to return home. He went 0-for-3. … Right-hander Alec Asher took the loss for Double-A Bowie in Friday night's Game 2 of the Eastern League division series, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and a hit batter in 1 1/3 innings. Both the Baysox and High-A Frederick lost Saturday to end their seasons in their respective leagues' division series. … Left-hander Jayson Aquino, who was designated for assignment Tuesday when the Orioles added Austin Hays to the 40-man roster, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk on Saturday.