9/21/2013 1:22 P.M. ET
O's reinforce bullpen with Belfiore, Britton
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- After using 10 pitchers in Friday night's 18-inning loss to the Rays, the Orioles on Saturday called up left-handers Mike Belfiore and Zach Britton to reinforce their bullpen.
Belfiore, who has been called up twice this season but has yet to make his Major League debut, said that his phone rang at around 3 a.m. ET on Saturday, not long after the game ended.
"Never leave it on silent," Belfiore said. "I learned that real quick."
Both Belfiore and Britton had been working out at Baltimore's complex in Sarasota, Fla., throwing bullpen sessions and simulated games to stay ready in case they were needed.
Belfiore tried to keep up with Friday's game, though he admits to dozing off; he and Britton drove to St. Petersburg together for the game against Tampa Bay.
"We'll see what happens. I can't control when I go in there, but I can control how I prepare and all that. That's the most important thing," said Belfiore, who added that he's "ready to go" after last throwing on Thursday.
Manager Buck Showalter said that Belfiore and Britton will remain with the club the rest of the way. They could be called into action quickly depending on the health of starter Miguel Gonzalez, who left his previous start, on Sunday, in the sixth inning with a strained right groin. Gonzalez passed all the necessary tests, but Showalter said "you can't imitate going off the mound, fielding a ground ball."
"So you'd better protect yourself," Showalter added. "It's not like everybody that pitched [on Friday] can't pitch [on Saturday]."
Showalter said that Tsuyoshi Wada, who is also working out in Sarasota, "was an option" but added that Belfiore and Britton "were a little bit more ready, so we're covered better."
Marathon men: Six from Friday in lineup on Saturday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Buck Showalter tried to get a sense both during and after Friday night's 18-inning loss to the Rays as to who might be available 11 hours later, when the Orioles lined up for the second game of this critical series at Tropicana Field.
The response he got was not surprising given Baltimore's place in the American League Wild Card standings -- 2 1/2 games out entering play on Saturday -- and the importance of each game down the stretch.
Six Orioles who played all 18 innings as Friday night gave way to Saturday morning were back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon: Manny Machado, Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and Danny Valencia. Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts, who also played the full 18, were on the bench in favor of catcher Steve Clevenger and second baseman Alexi Casilla.
"I talked to some of them last night, and I got a real common theme," Showalter said on Saturday morning. "I know there's some emotion there, so I wanted to wait again until this morning. You also want to provide for that part where they get up and go, 'What in the [heck] did I tell him last night?'"
Wieters didn't fight for a spot in the lineup, but he'd had no qualms about finishing Friday night's marathon game behind the plate.
"I kept looking at him after the 12th inning. He'd come in, I'd look at him, he'd look up at me and he'd wink and smile, and I'd go, 'Got it. Good.' That's all," Showalter said. "I know he wanted to catch the rest of the game, period. We were going to sit him today anyway."
• Closer Jim Johnson warmed up several times during Friday night's 18-inning marathon loss to the Rays but should be available on Saturday, as Showalter pointed out that he never began throwing too hard.
• The Orioles have held a lead at some point during the game in 44 of their 72 losses, the highest such percentage in the Majors this season, according to STATS.
• Each of the Orioles' last 13 games and 16 of their last 17 have been decided by two runs or fewer, with the team going 6-7 and 8-11 during those two stretches. Overall this season, 84 percent of Baltimore's games have been decided by four runs or fewer.
• Baltimore's bullpen had not allowed an earned run in its last 23 innings dating back to Sept. 11 before Kevin Gausman gave up one run in the seventh inning on Friday night. The Orioles' relievers immediately started a new streak, tossing 10 straight scoreless innings before David DeJesus' RBI single off Bud Norris in the 18th inning.