Before Thursday's game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter mentioned how quickly an illness like the one right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is suffering from can spread around the clubhouse.
But when Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy both used the word "contagious" after the game, they weren't talking about steering clear of Gonzalez.
They were referring to the Orioles' two key hits with runners in scoring position in a five-run fifth inning, which fueled their 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. For a team that came in batting just .152 with runners in scoring position since June 14, those hits made the Orioles feel like they were suddenly cured.
"I think they're kind of contagious, especially with this kind of lineup," said Davis, who delivered a three-run double off Rays starter James Shields with one out in the fifth. "I think most of the time when we have big innings, you see guys going up, working the count, getting timely hits. It kind of catches on throughout the lineup."
Davis' double followed Adam Jones' two-run single — also with the bases loaded — giving the Orioles a 5-0 lead.
They had only scored five runs in a game — let alone an inning — once in the previous nine games.
As big as those hits were, Showalter and Davis both made a point to praise Jim Thome and Matt Wieters for drawing walks to load the bases for Jones and then Davis. Making Shields work on a hot afternoon may have played a role in the Orioles finally breaking through with a big inning.
"I just think we kind of wore him down," said Davis, who went the other way on a curveball away for his three-run double. "Jim Thome had a huge walk that inning. [Wieters] had a huge walk. We kind of started stringing stuff together and putting pressure on him, and we were able to get the big hits. I think that was really the backbreaker for him."
Eveland brought back
Left-hander Dana Eveland arrived in Baltimore on Thursday morning running on four hours sleep after receiving word around 1:30 a.m. that the Orioles were purchasing his contract from Triple-A Norfolk.
The Orioles brought back Eveland to add bullpen depth for the series finale after relievers accounted for 61/3 innings in Wednesday night's 10-1 loss.
The club optioned utility man Steve Tolleson to Norfolk to make room for Eveland on the 25-man roster. The Orioles had an open spot on their 40-man roster, created when they designated outfielder Steve Pearce for assignment Saturday.
The addition of Eveland meant the Orioles played Thursday's game with a three-man bench. But Showalter said that might not be an issue for much longer, meaning Eveland could soon be designated for assignment for a third time this season.
"It doesn't have to be [an issue for] days, plural," Showalter said before the game. "Today our need is to have some length out of the bullpen. … In a perfect world, you'd like to have four there [on the bench]. But we'll get back there again, hopefully after a good start today or tomorrow."
Eveland began making the 2 1/2 -hour drive from Allentown, Pa., where Norfolk was playing Lehigh Valley, at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, getting a ride from minor league instruction coordinator Brian Graham.
"I feel good," Eveland said. "Glad to be back. I was a little surprised by it, especially after they took me off the roster. They didn't have much of a choice when sending me down."
Eveland allowed six runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings in his first start at Norfolk since being assigned there last week, but he said he threw the best bullpen session of his life Tuesday.
"Hopefully, I can translate that into the game," Eveland said.
Eveland said he's learned to adjust to shuttling back and forth between the Orioles and Triple-A. He could have become a free agent both times he was designated, but he would have forfeited the remainder of his $750,000 contract.
"I'd rather go through that than be stuck [in Triple-A] the whole year," Eveland said. "If I have to do that to be a part of this team, or to spend as much time here as I can, so be it."
Gonzalez, who allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings Wednesday, said Thursday that he's been sick the past three days, but he didn't want to use illness as an excuse for his poor performance.
He threw up earlier in the day Wednesday and said after his start he had trouble with his grip throughout the night. In retrospect, he said he wished he threw more two-seamers than forcing his split-fingered fastball and changeup. Gonzalez, known for his control, walked two and hit three batters.
Showalter said Thursday's starter Chris Tillman was also under the weather.
Around the horn
Hardy was bruised on his left side after being hit by a pitch from Shields in the fifth inning. He had X-rays on his ribs after the game and said he's OK. "They hurt, but they're fine," he said. "They hurt a lot." … Second baseman Robert Andino has been in Baltimore the past three days and was working on drills to strengthen his injured left shoulder before Thursday's game. Showalter said he hopes Andino will go down to Sarasota, Fla., to begin rehabbing when the Orioles head to New York for a three-game series following Sunday's game. … The Orioles and Rays have committed more errors than any other team in the American League, but neither had one in the series until Orioles third baseman Wilson Betemit misplayed a grounder in Thursday's fifth inning. That snapped a 59-inning errorless streak for the Orioles dating back to July 19. Second baseman Omar Quintanilla added an error in the seventh, raising the Orioles' major league worst total to 82 errors through 99 games. … Rays relievers had a scoreless streak of 21 innings snapped when Davis homered off Burke Badenhop in the seventh inning. … The Orioles are 19-11 in day games compared to 33-36 at night.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times