MINNEAPOLIS – T.J. McFarland had never pitched on consecutive days until Friday. After working an inning on Thursday, his 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Twins were key in keeping the Orioles in a game that they eventually won 9-6 in 10 innings.
“Surprisingly, I felt good. Those eight days that I had off helped,” McFarland said.
In his first season in the major leagues the Rule 5 draft choice has found himself in an ideal situation, a good team, and he’s pitching well. In eight games, he has a 2.76 ERA.McFarland usually comes into games when the team is far behind as the long man, but that hasn’t happened often this season. The six-run deficit the Orioles faced was their largest of the season.
“All I’m worried about is doing exactly what I did there, getting outs, and keeping the team close,” McFarland said. “We have a great offense. We’re going to score runs.”
With a 6-0 deficit, McFarland watched his team score three runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the game.
“It completely changes how you pitched because it’s a tie game, and you really have to squeeze the plate a little more, but for me, I still attacked hitters and relied on the defense to bail me out,” McFarland said.
Before Thursday, McFarland had pitched just once in the past two weeks.
“You try to stay as sharp as you can. If I don’t get in the game, that’s a good thing. That means we’re winning. Starters are going deep,” McFarland said. “If I go 14 days without throwing, we’re going to be winning.”
Pitching coach Rick Adair will set up some extra work for McFarland if he hasn’t pitched in some time.
“I’m impressed with how he’s handled it,” manager Buck Showalter said.
McFarland’s arrival has given Showalter a new tool.
“It gives me a certain comfort level because I’ve got some length with a guy. It’s one thing, I’ve said many times, to be capable of pitching of giving me length, two, three, four innings. He has the stuff to pitch that many innings,” Showalter said.
With the 23-year-old on hand, Showalter said the team shouldn’t have to make as many moves as it did last year.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better situation,” McFarland said. “We’re winning. We know we can win.”
NOTE: The Orioles made room for Saturday’s starting pitcher, Steve Johnson by optioning Alex Burnett to Norfolk. He pitched a scoreless inning in Thursday’s game. That was Burnett’s only appearance in the five days he’s been with the team in two stings.
Showalter said Burnett impressed him.\
“I’ll keep doing the same things I did to get back here, hope nobody gets hurt and I love the situation we have in Norfolk,” Burnett told him.