BALTIMORE – It was just the scenario Buck Showalter wanted to avoid. Working with a six-man bullpen because Brian Matusz was suspended, and the Orioles adding Nolan Reimold to the roster, Showalter hurried to the mound in the fifth inning.
Miguel Gonzalez had strained his right groin, and in a scoreless game, Showalter was going to need 14 outs from his bullpen.
He got them thanks to T.J. McFarland, Chaz Roe and Zach Britton combining to allow just one hit over the final 4 2/3 innings in the Orioles’ 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox before 28,460 at Oriole Park on Tuesday night.
Gonzalez had a similar injury before in 2012. That injury wasn’t disabling, but Showalter may have to make a decision much quicker than he would normally have to.
The Orioles could disable Gonzalez, call up a reliever and then get another starter on Sunday when Matusz returns from his eight-game suspension, and it’s Gonzalez’s turn to pitch.
“With a six-man 'pen we have to approach things a little differently now until we get full. A little different dynamic of trying to put it together each night. That's part of the penalty you get for having somebody suspended,” Showalter said.
Britton came into the game to face David Ortiz with runners on first and second with one out in the eighth. Normally, Matusz would have gotten the call. Big Papi is 2-for-26 against Matusz.
This time, Britton struck him out, and got four more outs for his 16th save.
“That’s a tough lineup. It’s a 1-0 game, but it’s a lot of good pitches had to go in to make that 1-0 game,” Matt Wieters said.
It was Wieters first game at home since returning from Tommy John surgery, and with Chaz Roe pitching, he tested out that elbow.
Roe (1-0) hit Dustin Pedroia and walked Brock Holt to start the eighth. Rusney Castillo bunted, and Wieters fired to Manny Machado at third to force Pedroia.
Wieters said he wasn’t thinking about the elbow, which was surgically repaired just under a year ago.
“Wasn’t even a thought, which is a good thing. You don’t really know until you make the play. It’s a reaction, and actually pretty pleased with that,” Wieters said.
While the catcher wasn’t thinking about it, Showalter was.
“I thought about it. Said, I guess his arm is OK. We wouldn't have him here, wouldn't be playing him if we didn't think it was OK. It's always tempting to write him in there tomorrow, but we're lucky to have Caleb [Joseph],” Showalter said.
The Orioles (27-30), who have won four of five got just three hits off Eduardo Rodriguez, who they developed and sent to Boston (27-32) last July for Andrew Miller.
E-Rod, who has allowed one run in 20 2/3 innings in three starts, walked three and struck out seven.
He threw 102 pitches and left in the seventh when the Orioles scored their run off Matt Barnes (2-1).
Steve Pearce led off with a double, advanced to third on J.J. Hardy’s single and scored on Barnes’ wild pitch.
When Gonzalez left, McFarland worked through the sixth, then Roe, who has allowed one run in 12 innings since arriving on May 24, pitched the scoreless seventh and left for Britton in the eighth.
Gonzalez injured the groin when pitching to Mookie Betts the last batter of the fourth. He said he wasn’t worried.
“Treat it, see what happens and hopefully I can make my next start,” Gonzalez said.
“It's a little sore. But I can walk. I can move around. So it's just not as bad as people probably think."
There were three replay reviews, two overturned, and lots of deep counts. It’s not mid-June, but AL East intensity is back.
“I think the last couple of series have felt like that. We are trying to get on a roll, win some games and get out of the dungeon so to speak in the standings a little bit. We are playing good ball right now. Offense is scoring just enough runs and we are pitching the way we are capable of pitching so those are good things,” Britton said.
Wieters put it succinctly.
“We’re going to have to come ready to play because in this division, you can’t give away games that you should win,” he said.
NOTES: It was Reimold’s first game with the Orioles since July 13, 2013. He went 0-for-3 …Virgilio Encarnacion, a right-handed pitcher with the Orioles’ Dominican Summer League team, has been suspended for 72 games for a positive test of performance-enhancing drugs. … Rick Porcello (4-5, 5.01) faces Wei-Yin Chen (1-4, 3.18) on Wednesday night. … Boston’s Hanley Ramirez left the game with a bruised left knee in the third inning. He fouled a ball off the knee.