DETROIT -- If there was one thing that manager Buck Showalter wanted to improve the most going into the second half of the season, it was his club's defense.
While the Orioles' 93 errors are still tops in the Majors, they are making strides on the field -- particularly at the corner-infield spots, with the play of Mark Reynolds and rookie Manny Machado.
The Orioles committed 75 errors in 85 first-half games, posting a .977 fielding percentage, and have 18 in 35 second-half games for a fielding percentage of .987. While statistics aren't everything, the club has been more adept at turning double plays -- including three at key moments in Saturday's game.
"It's improved," Showalter said of the defense. "Mark's done a good job at first base, he really has. He's settled in there pretty well. I tell you, if we shore that up at the corners and with Nate [McLouth] and [Adam] Jonesie and Nicky [Markakis] out there, we're going to have a good defensive club out there."
Jones, Markakis and McLouth are all former Gold Glove winners, as is catcher Matt Wieters, who is consistently praised by the O's pitching staff for the work he does behind the plate. Machado's arrival has helped re-energize the Orioles, making the transition from shortstop to third base look almost easy, while Reynolds has vastly improved his play at first base.
"The guys that we have in here now and how our defense has gotten better has helped us do our jobs a little bit easier," closer Jim Johnson said.
Added Jones, "It had to [get better]. We knew that our pitchers were keeping us in games [and] our offense was keeping us in games, but our defense was getting us in trouble."
Showalter: O's will operate day to day with arms
DETROIT -- Following Zach Britton's seven scoreless innings on Saturday night, the Orioles have a few roster decisions to make moving forward. The team, which has an off-day on Thursday, is playing with an extra pitcher and a three-man bench.
With right-hander Steve Johnson -- who last pitched on Thursday -- serving as the long man, manager Buck Showalter said the Orioles will continue to operate on a day-to-day basis. They are trying to keep their bullpen healthy and productive while also waiting to see if first baseman Mark Reynolds incurs any kind of suspension for his ejection on Friday.
"I'd like to have the extra position player and the extra player, but they [have] to go to [26-player rosters] to do it," Showalter said prior to Sunday's 7-5 series-clinching win against Detroit. "It's what's best for our team right now."
Showalter was also tossed in Friday's game. While it's unlikely Reynolds will get more than a fine, a suspension is still a possibility -- one that would almost certainly force the Orioles to get another position player. For now, the team will continue to carry an extra arm to add length in the bullpen and help keep anyone from being overused. The O's are heading into a three-game series against the Rangers, and keeping Johnson will help ensure they are covered in the event of a short start.
It seems likely the team will also keep Britton with the big league club, although what they will do with the rotation following Thursday's day off is unclear. The Orioles could opt to stay with a five-man rotation and give each pitcher an extra day of rest, or option a pitcher and add either a reliever or another bench player.
"We know how we are going the first two days in Texas," said Showalter, whose club will play 17 consecutive days starting on Friday.
Of Johnson's fate and whether the organization would prefer to stretch him back out as a starter in the Minors, Showalter said: "It's kind of wait until the smoke clears a little bit after Wednesday, probably, and we will see what's best for us and Steve. It's one and the same. That's why I didn't feel comfortable with him, didn't think it was best for him and our club to start that ... one day. He's been pitching too well to [have] something ... back that up.
"He will stay active. We will keep him active. Maybe not always in the game, but keep the ball in his hand. He's in a good place right now. We want to keep that."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.