Despite loss, Showalter lauds O's defensive gems

Despite loss, Showalter lauds O's defensive gems

Despite loss, Showalter lauds O's defensive gems
BALTIMORE -- It was the biggest source of frustration for manager Buck Showalter, the thing he placed the most emphasis on improving: the Orioles' defense.

A Baltimore club that led the Majors in errors for most of the season has turned it around the past two months, and there was more defensive wizardry on display in Sunday's 7-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

Wearing a bulky brace to limit the lateral movement on his knee, Orioles starter Jason Hammel walked four but was able to avoid the big inning with some help behind him, including two stellar stops from first baseman Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis' outfield assist in the fourth.

But one of the most awe-inspiring plays came from catcher Matt Wieters, who helped reliever Darren O'Day get out of a sticky spot in the seventh to keep the game tied at 2.

Wild Card vs. Yankees

"It was unbelievable," Reynolds said of Wieters picking second baseman Robert Andino's throw in the dirt and applying the tag to get Russell Martin at home. "It was pretty remarkable that he's able to do that with the catcher's glove on."

Wieters also threw out Ichiro Suzuki on a steal attempt in the first inning, although getting Martin was the play that sent the sold-out crowd at Camden Yards into an uproar and had teammates and manager Buck Showalter marveling at the 26-year-old's prowess behind the plate.

"We had a great defensive game," Showalter said. "Reynolds made two great plays at first base. Chris Davis made a couple good plays in the outfield for us. Wieters made that play at the plate. You know how difficult it is ... [with] a catcher's mitt, too, that's some kind of play, especially in that situation. That's probably the difference in that ballgame was Jason pitching real well, and I was real proud of him and everybody defensively that kept us in the game."

Davis, taking over right-field duties for the injured Nick Markakis, also made an on-the-run grab in the deepest corner of foul territory to retire Curtis Granderson and end the sixth inning. Rookie Manny Machado, a big part of the club's improved defense, barehanded and threw across the diamond to get Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the second out of the sixth.