8/9/2014 12:33 A.M. ET
Joseph leaves club to tend to family medical emergency
By David Wilson / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- In the midst of the best stretch of his career, Caleb Joseph had to leave the Orioles before Friday's game to tend to a family medical emergency. Nick Hundley was in the starting lineup, playing catcher and batting ninth.
"He's had a little family medical issue he's got to look in to," manager Buck Showalter said. "We'll see if he gets back by game time."
Joseph, who was also out of the lineup on Wednesday, has homered in four consecutive games -- the record for consecutive games with a homer by a catcher is six. He returned to Camden Yards during the game, but didn't play during the Orioles' 12-2 win against the Cardinals.
Chris Tillman, who started against the Cardinals on Friday, is the O's only active starting pitcher with a better ERA when Hundley is behind the plate. With Hundley catching, Tillman's ERA is 3.87. With Joseph, that rises to 5.29.
Joseph's recent hot streak has bumped his batting average up to .220. He's also thrown out a league leading 49 percent of runners attempting a solen base. Ryan Flaherty or Steve Pearce were available as the Orioles' emergency catcher.
Showalter faces tough choice as Ubaldo returns
BALTIMORE -- Sometime before the start of the Orioles' 4:05 p.m. ET start against the Cardinals on Saturday, Buck Showalter will have to make a decision. Ubaldo Jimenez will come off the disabled list to make his first start since July 5 and the O's will have to send a member of their red-hot starting rotation or consistently excellent bullpen to the Minors.
"These guys have made it hard on us," Showalter said, "and that's a good thing."
The manager has a move in mind, but he knows that could change during Friday's series opener against St. Louis at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He knows he won't be optioning one of Baltimore's four bench bats, so he'll have to decide if he wants to add Jimenez into a six-man rotation, send out one of the optionable starters or move one of the starting pitchers into the bullpen.
Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, Kevin Gausman and Miguel Gonzalez all have options remaining and could head to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday. Any of those four or Friday's starting pitcher Chris Tillman could head to the bullpen.
Since the All-Star break, the O's 3.02 starters ERA is second best in the American League. The weakest link has been Gausman with a 4.19 ERA in the second half.
Even so, Showalter expects Gausman, who came out of the bullpen 15 times in 2013, to start on Sunday, "but that can change depending on what we do in the bullpen tonight."
Whoever gets sent out to make room for Jimenez, who is 3-8 with 4.52 ERA with an AL-leading 60 walks, won't have to leave for long. The Orioles have an off-day on Thursday, so a starter would only have to miss one turn.
And if it's a reliever, he'll be able to return in less than a month for September callups.
"I'm going to take all the information from tonight's game," Showalter said. "I don't want to get out there to the players for sure. They know where we're leaning and we'll solidify it after tonight."
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.