Slump just part of game, Schoop says

Sec­ond base­man on pace for worst sta­tis­ti­cal month since Sept. 2014

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Jon Me­oli jme­oli@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/JonMe­oli

Slump­ing Ori­oles sec­ond base­man Jonathan Schoop, who en­tered Tues­day with a .167 Septem­ber bat­ting av­er­age and just three hits in his pre­vi­ous six games, said his re­cent strug­gles are part of the ebb and flow of a long season, not symp­toms of any larger trou­bles.

“You know, the pitch­ers are mak­ing bet­ter pitches,” said Schoop, who went 1-for-4 Tues­day night.

“This time of the season, the last weeks, that’s base­ball. You have the ups and downs, and I’m learn­ing from it. I know for sure that I’m learn­ing from this, and then next year, I’ve got ex­pe­ri­ence from it from this year. It’s some­thing you have to go through.”

Schoop is less than two weeks from fin­ish­ing a season dur­ing which he could start each of the Ori­oles’ 162 games. He has en­joyed a break­out year with 24 home runs and 35 dou­bles through 150 games.

But his bat­ting av­er­age has been par­tic­u­larly volatile as he’s gone on hot streaks and then come back down over the course of the season.

He started hot, cooled for most of May, then spent June rais­ing his bat­ting av­er­age from .267 on June 1 to .304 at the All-Star break. He has moved all over the bat­ting or­der since then, and seen his season av­er­age dip to .269 with his Septem­ber swoon.

Schoop has three home runs this month, but is on pace for his worst sta­tis­ti­cal month since he hit .155 with four home runs in Septem­ber 2014, the only other full ma­jor league season he’s played.

“Wher­ever I am [in the lineup], I just want to help the team win and do some­thing, any­thing,” Schoop said.

“If it’s not of­fen­sively, then de­fen­sively. I just want to help the team win. That’s all I care about.” Schoop Bloated bullpen ben­e­fi­cial: Man­ager Buck Showal­ter, and man­agers across the game, lament the ef­fect of Septem­ber call-ups on the qual­ity of the game. But the Ori­oles and Red Sox have ben­e­fited from the ex­panded ros­ters that make more reliev­ers avail­able.

The Red Sox (0.94) and Ori­oles (1.89) rank first and sec­ond in the ma­jor leagues in bullpen ERA in Septem­ber.

Showal­ter is reap­ing the re­wards of hav­ing a dozen reliev­ers. It has fun­da­men­tally changed the way he uses his pitch­ers.

For five months, the team re­lied on Vance Wor­ley and a ro­tat­ing cast of swing­men to pro­vide long re­lief. Now, Showal­ter said, they no longer need those roles. “We’re try­ing to live to fight an­other day,” Showal­ter said. “Wewere able to stay away from Brad [Brach] and Zach [Britton] and My­chal [Givens] and those guys last night, and Don­nie Hart. We wouldn’t have been able to do that in Au­gust. We would have paid a penalty for that, or we would have made a move or sent Tyler [ Wil­son] or Vance out after he pitched four or five in­nings so we had some­body who could pitch the next day.”

Those long out­ings were more out of ne­ces­sity than any­thing else, he said. It’s hard to ar­gue with the re­sults since ros­ters ex­panded, though some in the bullpen be­lieve it’s a bit jar­ring to the re­lief corps to see roles change so late in the season.

Said Brach: “It’s def­i­nitely one of those things where, at times, it’s, ‘What’s go­ing to be next?’ If they do call, when the phone does ring, you see a lot more heads turn be­cause you don’t know who it’s go­ing to be, ex­actly. It’s just dif­fer­ent be­cause there’s so many guys down there.

“You just never now some­times, how guys are go­ing to be used or when guys are go­ing to used. It’s def­i­nitely a pos­i­tive, but at times, there’s a lit­tle con­fu­sion be­cause you just don’t know who’s go­ing to be used at any time. For the most part, though, it’s pos­i­tive.” Around the horn: Left-han­der Wade Mi­ley is sched­uled to leave the team for the birth of his child at the end of this week­end’s fi­nal home se­ries against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs, Showal­ter said. Mi­ley left his start Sun­day after four shutout in­nings with a mus­cle strain in his back. ... Cen­ter fielder Adam Jones was given the Ori­ole Way Award from the Ori­oles Ad­vo­cates group for his ef­forts to grow the game and serve the com­mu­nity.

Starters: D-backs’ Robbie Ray (8-13, 4.66) vs. Dy­lan Bundy (9-6, 4.13)

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