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Schmuck: Despite record, winning still is Orioles' top priority, Showalter says

Buck Showalter didn’t look like a manager whose team had just been swept in a four-game series.

He didn’t look like he just came from a party, either, but he clearly was pleased with the performances of fill-in pitchers Jimmy Yacabonis and Yefry RamÍrez, even if those performances didn’t lead to a victory.

Which led to an obvious question:

Have we reached the point in a lost season when the outcome of each game is viewed through the prism of future development instead of the numbers on the scoreboard?

“No, it’s about winning the game — after nine innings having more runs than them,’’ Showalter said. “We’ll never stop looking at that, but within that realm, we should always be looking at that [player development], too.

“I don’t like losing any games. It eats at you. But you should be doing those things [grooming young players] all the time, because things always are evolving, especially in our situation to compare it to some of the people we compete against in this division.”

The point Showalter was making is that those two things — winning and building for the future — are not mutually exclusive. Players, he says, need to learn how to win just as they need to develop the fundamentals that make that possible.

“Learning how to win is part of development, too.” he said. “That’s one thing I learned from my Yankee days, we were expected as minor league managers to win. Teaching how to win baseball games and do the little things, there are certain things we should be able to assume when they come through our system.

“That’s why I’m so proud of what’s going on in Norfolk. Those guys are finding a way.”

Yacabonis was called up from Norfolk on Wednesday to start Thursday’s game because of the string of injuries that has struck the Orioles’ pitching staff. He isn’t a stretched-out starter, but worked four solid innings and struck out five. RamÍrez was called up in time for Thursday’s game and pitched five shutout innings, giving up just three hits.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, two runs over nine innings were not enough to avert the sweep. The game went into extra innings and young reliever Miguel Castro gave up two runs (one earned) in the 10th.

Showalter was impressed with the way Yacabonis navigated the uncertainty of the situation. He was available to pitch in an emergency on Wednesday night, so he really didn’t know for sure he was starting Thursday until after that game.

“I thought he handled it well,’’ Showalter said. “I thought he was in command of himself. And Yefry, sometimes the guys that have that type of changeup, it plays better the higher you go because people are in such a swing mode up here.”

“Both those guys and Tanner [Scott] — Tanner got back on the horse today and got some outs — you try to keep them on the context in which everything is done, but it’s a good start for them.”

Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at

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