Simon treating the rest of 2011 like an audition
Freddy Garcia and the New York Yankees got the better of Alfredo Simon tonight, but the big right-hander has started to pitch his way into the conversation about which five Orioles should be in the 2012 Opening Day rotation.
Facing one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball, Simon pitched seven strong innings to keep the Orioles within striking distance against the Yankees. He surrendered three earned runs on four hits while striking out six Yankees hitters, but an Orioles rally came up a run short in New York's 3-2 victory.
“I know I was going to pitch to the Yankees, and I put in my mind that I was going to [give] everything that I got to just win the game,” Simon said in the clubhouse after the game, sweat running down his cheek. “I didn’t get a lot of support, two base hits, but that happens in the game, and you just try to do better next time.”
Simon’s only major mistake -- at least that the Yankees took advantage of -- was a curveball he left over the plate for Nick Swisher in the fourth inning that Swisher hammered to right field for a two-run homer.
“He was really good. I loved the way he was engaged the whole night. Loved the way he came back after the two-run homer,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Simon. “They pitched just a tad better than we did. … I thought Simon actually pitched a little better than he did in Minnesota, considering the competition. I was really pleased with Alfredo tonight. He competed and got after it and made a lot of quality pitchers."
Showalter was referring to the eight innings of one-run ball Simon tossed against the Twins in his last start. The 30-year-old allowed three hits and followed it up tonight with another quality start, this time against the Yankees, who are jostling with the Boston Red Sox in the race for the American League East title.
After the game, Showalter was hesitant to speak about how Simon fits into the team's plans for the 2012 season, saying he was proud of the way Simon pitched tonight and that “he’s presenting himself” as a starting option. “He’s doing some things tonight and last time out and at times to help his cause."
Simon said he is finally feeling comfortable after enduring a turbulent offseason and spending part of the season in the bullpen. He is treating the rest of 2011 as an audition for a spot in the 2012 rotation.
“I’d like to be a starter, and they know, too,” Simon said. “I try to do the best I can so I can show [Showalter] I can be a starter here. So that’s then up to them [to decide] what they’re going to do with me. … I know they’re going to be happy because I put everything that I’ve got to win the game every time I go out.”