Orioles left-hander T.J. McFarland might have been as surprised as anyone that he was still with the club on Saturday one day after throwing five scoreless innings in the Orioles' 4-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Since McFarland's longest outing in nearly two years made him unavailable to pitch over the next few days, and the Orioles faced a roster crunch in activating left-hander Brian Matusz on Saturday and right-hander Kevin Gausman to start on Monday, optioning McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk was one of the options the Orioles were considering.
But they avoided sending McFarland back to the minors, instead opting to immediately place right-hander Yovani Gallardo — who left Friday's game after just two innings — on the DL with right bicep tendinitis.
When the Orioles' bullpen phone rang after the second inning on Friday, manager Buck Showalter said bullpen coach Dom Chiti told him he thought McFarland could give the Orioles up to 75 pitches.
"Mac's that type of guy," Showalter said. "A lot of the work he did in spring, stretching him out, [helped]. He would pitch in a game for two to three innings and go down to the bullpen and pitch another two to prepare him for what his role was going to be. … I think a lot of people miss how important guys like that are on a staff. You don't want to have to need it every night. You'd like to have multiple [long] guys. But Mac's already said, 'I can give you an inning tonight if you need me.' But he's not going to do that."
McFarland allowed just three hits on 66 pitches against a lefty-heavy Royals lineup. And McFarland's outing not only kept the Orioles in the game, but it ate up much-needed innings to keep the team's bullpen fresh.
"Well that is first and foremost," McFarland said. "The reason why I go out there so early is so we don't mess up the bullpen for the rest of the series. It was definitely important for me to stretch it out. But, because the game was so close it kind of turned into me, you know, not giving any runs because we needed a chance to win."
Matusz giving Orioles length: Showalter said Matusz, who has been mostly used as the team's situational lefty reliever over the past few years, could provide the Orioles with some bullpen length if needed after being activated Saturday.
Matusz opened the season on the DL list with a left lower back strain and was stretched out in his minor league rehab assignment, throwing three and four innings in his last two rehab appearances.
Showalter said Matusz would be available to give the Orioles some length in the bullpen tonight, and right-hander Vance Worley, who threw just 10 pitches in a scoreless eighth inning on Friday, could also be extended if needed.
Just 10 of Matusz's 58 appearances last season were more than one inning, including just one outing of more than one inning in his last 20 appearances of last season.
Kim receives start in left: Hyun Soo Kim received his third start of the season — and his first in 10 days —- on Saturday, when he started in left field and batted ninth.
Kim has played sparingly in the season's first three weeks and his last start came on April 13 in Boston, but he went into Saturday's game 3-for-7 — all of his hits are singles — with two walks and a strikeout.
Alvarez, who is just 4-for-34 this season, is hitless in his last 10 at-bats and went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and two walks on Friday night.
Around the horn: 3B Manny Machado extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games with a first-inning single on Saturday. It's the second-longest streak in club history to open a season. Davey Johnson began the 1971 season by hitting safely in 17 straight games. Before Saturday, Machado had been tied with Luis Matos (2003) and David Newhan (2004), who had 15-game opening streaks. … UT Ryan Flaherty will likely start in Sunday's series finale in Kansas City, Showalter said.