MLB Team Report - Baltimore Orioles - INSIDE PITCH
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles will send four players to next week’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati. Center fielder Adam Jones and third baseman Manny Machado have gone before, but this will be the first time for closer Zach Britton and right-hander Darren O’Day.
Both pitchers have unusual stories. Britton, a left-hander, had been a starter until the Orioles decided to convert him to a relief pitcher for 2014. Right-hander Tommy Hunter had been penciled in as the closer, but Britton was out of options, so his role wasn’t clear right away.
Hunter struggled as the closer, and the Orioles decided to try Britton there in mid-May. He had a few rough moments early on but quickly grew into the role and finished with 37 saves — a big reason the Orioles won the American League East last year.
Britton’s strong command and nasty sinker made him difficult to hit last year, and he kept on rolling in 2015. The closer also gave credit to former Oriole Brady Anderson, now the team’s vice president of baseball operations, who worked with him a lot before last season and pushed Britton not to be satisfied with just making the major leagues again.
Instead, Anderson suggested Britton set his goal to be a great pitcher. Britton took that to heart, and now he’s an All-Star for the first time.
He was the winning pitcher in Friday’s 3-2 victory over the Nationals and now is 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA and 23 saves this season and looking forward to the All-Star Game.
“It’s going to be special,” Britton said. “I don’t know what to expect. It’s neat, and you don’t know if you get the opportunity again.”
O’Day now is in his eighth year in the major leagues and has grown into one of the game’s top set-up men during the past few seasons.
The right-hander threw a scoreless inning in Friday’s win and now is 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in 35 games. O’Day has become a real weapon for manager Buck Showalter in a variety of late-game situations, often leading to Britton closing.
But still, many middle relief pitchers aren’t picked for the All-Star Game, and that’s why this honor means so much to O’Day.
“I’m excited to be an All-Star,” O’Day said. “It’s really challenging for a middle relief guy to make it. Consistency is what I strive for as a reliever. I think a few years of consistency now has somehow gotten me into the All-Star Game as a middle reliever. It doesn’t happen that often so I’m going to cherish it.”
MLB Team Report - Baltimore Orioles - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won one
NEXT: Nationals (RHP Jordan Zimmermann, 7-5, 3.04 ERA) at Orioles (RHP Miguel Gonzalez, 7-5, 3.87 ERA).
—RHP Chris Tillman continued his recent stretch of impressive starts Friday versus the Nationals. He gave up two runs on eight hits in six innings but did a better job of staying out of trouble. The right-hander gave up seven hits in his final two frames but allowed just those two runs and came away with a no-decision in the 3-2 win. “I had a good change-up tonight,” Tillman said. “I feel like that’s a pitch that has gotten me through some games in the past, and it’s been something I’ve been working on.”
—2B Jonathan Schoop has been back only five games after spending more than two months on the disabled list (sprained knee) but is making a big impact. He made several solid defensive plays — manager Buck Showalter said there were at least four, maybe more — and then added to that with a walk-off homer in the ninth that gave the Orioles a 3-2 victory over Washington. “I’m glad I’m here, with my teammates and my fans,” Schoop said. “I’m really happy to be here and especially to help the team to win and keep going.”
—CF Adam Jones hit his second home run of the week in Friday’s game. He crushed LHP Gio Gonzalez’s first pitch of the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Orioles an early 1-0 lead over the Nationals.
—LHP Zach Britton just got his first All-Star Game invitation this week. The closer came in the ninth inning of a tie game Friday night and then earned his first victory of the year — he’s now 1-0 — when Schoop hit his walk-off homer.
—C Matt Wieters tied a season high with three hits in Friday’s win. He went 3-for-4 with a game-tying RBI double off left-hander Matt Thornton in the eighth inning that set up the Jonathan Schoop homer one inning later. Those three hits moved Wieters’ average up to .266 this season. “Facing Thornton a lot in the past, you know he likes being aggressive with his fastball, so I was trying to get a pitch I could get a pretty good swing at,” Wieters said. “I was able to find the gap.”
—RHP Darren O’Day, who also got his first All-Star invitation, kept on rolling in this game. He struck out two in a scoreless eighth and now has an 0.88 ERA with 43 strikeouts over his last 32 appearances since April 13.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s exciting, really exciting. I was looking for a pitch I can drive, and I got lucky enough to put a barrel on it, and the ball went out.” — Orioles’ 2B Jonathan Schoop, after hit a ninth-inning, walk-off homer in Friday’s 3-2 victory over Washington.
MLB Team Report - Baltimore Orioles - ROSTER REPORT
—RHP Jason Garcia (right shoulder tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 20. He began a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on July 6.
—LHP Wesley Wright (left trapezius strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 11, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 24. He had an MRI exam April 13, and he was headed to Florida to begin rehabbing. He began throwing the week of April 27 at the Orioles minor league complex in Sarasota and took BP, ran and fielded grounders April 29. He threw 50 pitches from 90 feet on May 5. He pitched in an extended spring training game May 19. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Norfolk on June 16. He pitched on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk on July 9 and his rehab time should end July 12.
RHP Chris Tillman
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
LHP Zach Britton (closer)
RHP Darren O’Day
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP Brian Matusz
RHP Brad Brach
RHP Chaz Roe
1B Chris Davis
2B Jonathan Schoop
SS J.J. Hardy
3B Manny Machado
DH Jimmy Paredes
INF Ryan Flaherty
LF Travis Snider
CF Adam Jones
RF Steve Pearce
OF Nolan Reimold
OF David Lough
OF/INF Chris Parmelee