BOSTON -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he could have used setup man Pedro Strop in Friday night's game in an emergency. But Showalter wanted to stay away from him to give the right-hander back-to-back rest days.
"I heard an old pitching coach describe it as 'a little crispy', but he's ready to go today," said Showalter, who instead used reliever Darren O'Day for two innings to bridge to closer Jim Johnson. "A lot of people forget this guy's got a screw in his elbow. We've been very careful with managing his innings and trying to be careful with his [warmups].
"A lot of these guys, it's the first time they've been through this type of season, that type of stressful innings, but he's fine. He could have pitched last night."
Strop, who had a 1.21 ERA his first 51 outings, has struggled over the last few weeks, recording a 7.56 ERA in his last 15 games. He has said that he doesn't think it's a fatigue factor, and Showalter agreed.
"He's going through a little spell where some things aren't going his way," Showalter said. "He's had a couple flares fall in and a couple 3-2 borderline walks. He's a guy that we have a long memory with. We'll continue to run our best options out there. We still think he's one of them."
Strop's recent struggles continued on Saturday, as he allowed one run during his one inning of work during the O's 9-6 win in 12 innings over the Red Sox.
Duquette: O's 2012 not a success quite yet
BOSTON -- Baltimore entered Saturday with a dozen regular-season games remaining and a chance to move into a tie with the American League East-leading New York Yankees. But Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette -- on hand for Friday's night game -- echoed the sentiments of manager Buck Showalter with his hesitation to deem this season a success just yet.
"Some years in baseball, everything seems to work -- and other times, no matter what you do it doesn't work," said Duquette, who has worked with Showalter to tweak the team's roster to the tune of 173 transactions this season. "A lot of things we've done this year have worked out for the team.
"But, we haven't really accomplished anything yet. Yes, we are going to win more than we lose. But we want to win the division -- and if we don't win the division, we certainly want to be in the playoffs."
For Duquette, who was out of baseball for a decade before being hired by Baltimore this winter, getting another chance in the front office has been "personally fulfilling," and he singled out working with Showalter and young players like Adam Jones -- who was signed to an extension earlier this season -- Matt Wieters, and J.J. Hardy as a rewarding experience.
"The challenge with the Orioles was to give the fans some hope, and provide them with a team that they can support," Duquette said. "And this team, the culture of the team, has transformed into a winning culture.
"I'm just glad to be working again -- and I'm really proud of the work that our whole group [has done]. These guys go out and give it their best every night."
Following the Orioles' 9-6 win on Saturday, they have won nine of their last 10 in Boston, including a 7-1 mark at Fenway Park this year. Duquette -- who was dismissed by the Red Sox in 2002 -- has downplayed any extra significance in this weekend's series for him personally. With the two clubs going in different directions, Duquette reiterated on Friday that the organization's sole focus is winning the division, an advantage that affords the team extra days of rest and an opportunity to better set up their postseason pitching.
How have they put themselves in this position?
Operating with a considerably smaller payroll than the Yankees and Red Sox, Baltimore, which has employed one of the best bullpens in baseball, has made good use of the waiver wire under Duquette -- signing Nate McLouth after he was released, Lew Ford out of independent ball and Friday's starter Miguel Gonzalez out of the Mexican Winter League.
"They've all taken full [advantage] of the opportunity," Duquette said of the wealth of comeback stories and lesser-known names contributing big time for the Orioles. "There's a common theme in players we've picked up along the way. They're alert ballplayers, they are hungry ballplayers, they have mental toughness. They are hard-working, and that's the type of culture we are trying to reinforce so that we can have a good team year in and year out. We have a core group of players, and we have recalled these other players that have persistence and mental toughness -- and that makes for a good team."
Andino discusses Friday's beaning
BOSTON -- Orioles second baseman Robert Andino, speaking for the first time since taking a pitch to the helmet in Friday night's 4-2 win over the Red Sox, was still visibly upset after Saturday's 9-6 win about Mark Melancon's 94-mph fastball gone awry.
Asked if he thought the pitch was intentional, Andino said: "At this level, man I think should you have command of your pitches. But, whatever."
But what about the possibility that Boston wanted some retribution against Andino, who infamously uttered after his two-out, ninth-inning walk-off RBI last season: "End of season like this, [to] make Boston go home sad, crying, I'll take it all day," after Tampa Bay's walk-off moments later effectively ended the Red Sox's 2011.
"If that's the case, that's [bull], [that's] how I see it," Andino said. "But, whatever."
Andino has had two concussion tests since the incident, and was, what manager Buck Showalter called, not "in the right frame of mind" for Friday's night test. A CT scan after Friday night's game came back negative, and Andino will get another concussion test before Sunday's game to determine his availability.
"It got him in the earflap and the neck some, he had a pretty good welt there," Showalter said about Andino prior to Saturday's game. "He's not happy today, not playing. But as soon as he passes the concussion test -- I'm hoping we get good results from that, and he's back in the lineup [on Sunday]."
Andino, who went 2-for-2 with a walk on Friday, was visibly upset after the pitch knocked off his helmet -- taking a few steps toward the mound while waving off head athletic trainer Richie Bancells from the dugout.
Showalter also came out to help diffuse the situation. After Andino reached first base and conferred with Showalter and Bancells for a few minutes, he was removed for pinch-runner Omar Quintanilla. Andino was alert and awake the entire time, and walked off the field without assistance. Following Andino's exit, home-plate umpire Mark Wegner issued warnings to both clubs.
"I feel normal," said Andino, "I could have stayed in the game [on Friday]. But [it was] precautionary."
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.