It wasn’t until late in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader in Boston that Orioles rookie outfielder John Andreoli collected the hit he so badly wanted for the dozens of friends and family who came to see him at Fenway Park, solidifying that his first trip as a major leaguer to the park he visited countless times growing up was a good one.
Andreoli hit a two-run double with the bases loaded that bounced over the short right-field wall in the Orioles' four-run ninth inning, his first hit in his fifth at-bat of the game, erasing the possibility of leaving Boston without a hit.
"I was just happy that they all came out and supported me," said Andreoli, who is from nearby Shrewsbury, Mass. "A lot of those guys were really close buddies in high school, and they've been following me every day, all through every season in the minors. I definitely wanted to get a hit for them, so it was good that I got that last one."
Andreoli sat out the first game of the series Monday but entered as a defensive replacement in the 19-3 loss Wednesday afternoon before starting the nightcap.
"I think the first day, it was a lot of emotions running," Andreoli said. "I'd been to a lot of games there, going to games to see my cousin pitch there when he was with the Red Sox. After that, I just tried to take it like any other game, slow it down, and I feel like after that, it was just baseball. But the first few innings of that first game, it was pretty cool to look around and take it all in."
Manager Buck Showalter said there was a common thread between the combined six innings he got from starter Jimmy Yacabonis and reliever Tanner Scott on Wednesday night: Less was more. For each, Showalter said their hardest fastballs often weren't their best, and that helped them hold Boston to three runs, despite plenty of jams.
“The last four days, he seems to have gotten a real feel for his delivery," Showalter said of Scott, who has a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 September innings with 13 strikeouts and four walks. "Three of the pitches, when he tried to hump up, threw the ball 98 [mph], those were the balls that got away from him. But 96 [mph]... He threw a fastball in to [Rafael] Devers yesterday, trying to go in and got it in there for a strike, and he had no chance. He looked like a pitcher that didn't have control issues the last few times out — not necessarily control issues, but more consistent around the zone. .... He's gotten a little better every time he's pitched in professional baseball. You hope that's going to be good down the road."
As for Yacabonis, who himself has a 3.26 ERA in September, Showalter said the same message applied.
"He's another guy who's asking the right questions, getting a feel for more is not always better," Showalter said. "He's not looking at the gun chart after he's pitched to see how hard he's throwing. His 95s [mph] were the balls right out of his hand. His 93s were the balls that had some sink and the balls they weren't putting into play firmly. It's just hard to get across."
Right-hander Miguel Castro, who hasn't pitched since Saturday with a sore right knee, is "improving, but not available" as the season winds down, Showalter said.
"Still not available, but improved," Showalter said. "The same way with [Evan] Phillips, same way with [Andrew] Cashner, [Alex] Cobb." Phillips was shut down last weekend, while Cashner has a knee injury and Cobb has a cut on his finger.
Showalter also said Luis Ortiz (hamstring) and Josh Rogers, who was also shut down, are in a good place to leave the fall instructional league healthy in the coming weeks.
Davis out before rain
First baseman Chris Davis was out of the lineup for the fifth straight game Thursday, but the game was postponed by rain and will be made up as part of a single-admission doubleheader Saturday, beginning at 4:05 p.m.