Staked to a four-shot lead last week in Morocco, Marcel Siem thought he was on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong dream and clinching a Masters berth. Then, on Sunday morning, he received a call from his manager.
BALTIMORE – Hard rain fell through most of Friday, and as game time neared for the Orioles’ game with Oakland, the tarp covered the Oriole Park field.
So far this season, the Orioles have had two rainouts, one at home, and one at Texas and delays totaling three hours, 12 minutes.
Complicating matters, the Athletics are making their only scheduled trip to Baltimore.
Manager Buck Showalter doesn’t want to second guess the schedule makers.
““I try hard to not talk about things I’m not versed in. We all think we have a better way with the schedule. If you sat down with the people who did it, you’d probably understand a lot of the challenges they have. We’re not the only team. There are 29 others,” Showalter said.
“I’ve seen the schedule come out and you request certain things in a perfect world. You don’t always get them. Trying to predict weather? What’s the saying? If you want to make God laugh tell him about your plans. Nobody really knows. What is it, April showers bring May flowers? I’m waiting for the flowers.”
Showalter wants as few distractions as possible for his players.
“I don’t like guys talking to our players about rain and scenarios and all that. They look at radar, but he have to approach the rest of the afternoon to get ready at 7 o’clock to play Oakland. If something else comes up, the powers that be, they have it wired. They do a good job of it,” Showalter said.
BALTIMORE – As the Orioles prepared to face the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, they were working with the same roster they had the night before.
Since Apr. 25, the Orioles have had 13 pitchers and a three-man bench.
At that time, Ryan Flaherty was sent to Norfolk. He was recalled when J.J. Hardy went on the disabled list, but the Orioles stayed with 13 pitchers because of uncertainty over Zach Britton’s ankle.
Now that Britton is better, the Orioles could have been expected to make a move, but they haven’t. The major reason could be because Paul Janish, who the Orioles would like to have, is home with his wife, who had the couple’s third child, a baby girl, on Friday.
“It may not be him. It may not be anybody if we and whoever decide to continue down this path with the 13-man [pitching staff]. It may not be anybody. I don’t want anybody to think there’s a firm commitment,” manager Buck Showalter said.
In Thursday night’s game, Showalter used Nolan Reimold and Joey Rickard as pinch runners and had only Caleb Joseph on the bench.
“Last night, again was a challenge. We’ve been fortunate to overcome it. You’re always picking when to go for it and throw caution to the wind,” Showalter said.
Norfolk didn’t place Janish on the paternity list in case the Orioles wanted to immediately activate him.
Postgame analysis of the Nats' 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field:
How it happened: After the Nats enjoyed a brief 2-0 lead highlighted by a first-inning solo home run by Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer's homer problem reared its ugly head once again.
The barrage began in the second inning when Tommy La Stella took Scherzer deep to tie it up at 2-2. Two innings later, the 31-year-old right hander allowed back-to-back solo shots to Anthony Rizzo and Nats-killer Ben Zobrist. It got worse as Zobrist hit his second of the day, this time a three-run homer, making it 7-2 Cubs and essentially ending Scherzer's outing.
The Nats wouldn't go away, however, putting together a four-run rally in the eighth thanks to a two-run double by Jayson Werth and a two-run home run by Wilson Ramos. But like Thursday night's loss, it was too little, too late.
What it means: The Cubs are good. Really, really good. The Nats, while off to a solid start themselves, aren't yet in the class of the North Siders, whose run differential now sits at a ridiculous +98. With Washington dropping the first two games of this marquee series, it is now 5-3 on this 10-game road trip.
Scherzer gets roughed up: The Nats' $200 million man turned in his worst start of the season against the Cubs — and perhaps the worst start of his tenure in D.C. Scherzer's home run issues continued Friday afternoon, as he yielded four long balls —tied for his career-high in a single start — en route to allowing seven earned runs over five innings.
Scherzer's struggles have gotten to the point where it's hard to ignore that something's just not right. For one, Friday's outing represented the most runs he'd allowed since joining the Nats in 2015. Secondly, he now leads the majors in home runs allowed with nine. And if that isn't enough, he's also having trouble with the strike zone: He's already issued 15 walks in his first seven starts, nearly half of last season's total of 34.
Murphy's back at it again: The silver lining in Friday's tough loss is that Daniel Murphy is continuing his scortching start to the season. After going hitless Thursday night, the Nats second baseman rebounded big time by going 4-for-4 on the afternoon to raise his batting average to an MLB-leading .406. It feels like this can't last all season, but a month into the season, he hasn't found himself in anything remotely resembling a slump. It's unlikely that Murphy's the next incarnation of Ted Williams, but it's safe to say the Nats may have gotten a bargain when they signed him last winter at three years, $37.5 million.
What's next: The Nats will hope the third game in this four-game set is the charm as they'll send Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15 ERA) to the mound on Saturday afternoon to oppose the Cubs' Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA).