MINNEAPOLIS — Orioles Manager Buck Showalter is always looking ahead.
And following his team’s lethargic 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon at Target Field, Showalter’s major concern wasn’t his sputtering offense but instead an all-too-familiar, brief outing by a starting pitcher that made for another long afternoon for his bullpen.
“I’m trying to save the bullets,” Showalter said. “Fortunately we have a day off, but we’re going to go through a period here after the off day where those types of things are going to catch up with you.”
The Orioles (15-14) left Minnesota disappointed after losing two of three games. They scored just six runs in the series, four of which were provided by a pair of mammoth two-run home runs by left fielder Nelson Cruz.
Otherwise, the offensive void of first baseman Chris Davis provided very little charge against some pedestrian pitchers for the Twins (14-15). In between those two homers by Cruz, the Orioles scored one run in a span of 17 innings.
Pitching on six days’ rest after the Orioles had back-to-back rainouts last week, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez was ineffective, lasting just 42 / 3 innings and allowing three runs and six hits.
Over the past five games, an Orioles starting pitcher has gone more than 51 / 3 innings just once — Ubaldo Jimenez’s 71 / 3 shutout innings in the club’s 3-0 win Friday.
“It can go both ways,” Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said. “When we are hitting the ball and scoring runs and not pitching well, it looks bad. And when we are not scoring runs, it looks bad. That’s part of being a team and getting on the same page and doing things the right way.
“Teams are going to go through their struggles. Everybody is going to do it. I wouldn’t say we are struggling right now. We just didn’t have a series like we wanted to. And we just got to put it past us.”
Showalter was forced to use five relievers Sunday, a troublingly common theme so far this season. The Orioles have a day off Monday before opening a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Beginning with that series, the Orioles play 13 straight days and 26 games in the following 27 days.
“It’s been a challenge for us because I’ve been trying to protect our bullpen pieces, but we continue to get some short starts,” Showalter said. “It’s tough. . . . What it causes is guys who are usually pitching when you’re ahead are pitching when you’re behind. You know me. I’m not going to physically put our bullpen in harm’s way.”
— Baltimore Sun