Last night Buck Showalter out-managed the Texas Ranger’s skipper Ron Washington. Showalter displayed patience and timing; meanwhile Washington made a series of blunders due to a lack of patience and an ignorance of timing. I watched as Washington yanked ace pitcher Yu Darvish too soon–way too soon considering a weak bullpen lurked. And let’s remember this was a winner take all one game match-up!
O’s starter Joe Saunders, earned the win. I wanted him removed around the second inning, as he continued to let the leadoff batters aboard. But while I screamed at the T.V. Buck waited. He watched as his veteran pitcher battled, inning after inning. Saunders settled in nicely, ensuring the Rangers stranded a high 8 men on base. 8 LOB and 1 ER in 5.2 innings is a testament to the veteran’s grit. That’s why Buck started his vet.
It did help that Saunders got to pitch to 2 Rangers catchers, back to back. Washington sat a .300 hitter (Murphy) to allow 2 catchers to hit. One, Mike Napoli almost tanked my fantasy team (almost) and the other, Soto remains under the Mendoza line. And how many times did big-outs come from those 2 catchers striking out? 3 times! Leaving valuable runners aboard in a 1-1 game. Ron Washington’s lineup card was suspect indeed. But that’s easy to say in hindsight.
Buck understood the urgency of the one-game playoff. Buck continues to blend an old school wisdom to the new-school baseball. One-game playoffs are new. Washington didn’t adapt. Showalter did. He batted Machado last against the wisdom of Baltimore’s talk radio, who also denounced starting Saunders instead of Hammel. Buck ignored the popular media. Instead of the 20 year old Muchado, veteran Nate Mcclouth ignited the Orioles with his first inning stolen base. Got us all thinking this was really possible!!! >>> BUT ITS THE RANGERS. . . . Nolan Ryan, Hamilton, Cruz, Kinsler and stuff . . . in Arlington, Texas. Only a mere 4 O’s fans in attendance . . .
But none of that mattered as Buck deployed strategy. His pinch hitters were on time. And who knew Jim Thome had base hits left in him? I didn’t. And Ron Ron didn’t. But Buck did.
Orioles fans entered the season with little hope. As we have for the last 14 years. But this year something’s different. The player’s talent remains about the same to be honest. Except maybe for our bullpen (the MVP of the team is our closer). And our team has special talent; but really all major league clubs do. This year however, we’ve got a master manager at the helm. And all of his players seem to be united about one thing: winning. And a team that loves winning is a team worth celebrating. And writing about.