BALTIMORE (AP) Buck Showalter shifted in his chair and chose his words carefully.
Asked the simple question of who would be pitching for the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the seasoned manager felt compelled to provide the AL Championship Series with a bit of a mystery.
''We're going to do everything we can to try to win tonight's game,'' Showalter said Friday, hours before the Orioles faced Kansas City in Game 1 of the ALCS. ''Then we'll let the smoke clear and see where we are.''
But would the skies stay clear? The possibility of a lengthy shower loomed as Game 1 began.
Depending on how the opener went, either left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (16-6 in the regular season) or right-hander Bud Norris (15-8) were scheduled to take the mound for Baltimore on Saturday.
''Whoever goes out there will be ready to go,'' said Norris, who blanked Detroit over 6 1-3 innings in the finale of the AL Division Series. ''That's how our rotation has been the entire year. We're both excited to go out and get the opportunity to pitch again.''
Royals manager Ned Yost was asked if he was bothered by Showalter's reluctance to reveal his starter.
''Not at all,'' Yost replied.
As a follow-up, the questioner said, ''Does that affect your preparation at all?''
''Not at all.''
Yost, on the other hand, readily announced right-hander Yordano Ventura (14-10) as his starter in Game 2. Ventura would be the first rookie in Royals history to start twice in the postseason.
After allowing two runs and getting only one out in the wild-card game against Oakland, Ventura held the Los Angeles Angels to one run over seven innings in Game 2 of Kansas City's three-game sweep in the ALDS.
''The first outing for me there was a little bit more pressure,'' he said through translator Jeremy Guthrie, who's also his teammate. ''But after that one, when I made my start in the LDS, I felt very comfortable, back to business as usual, where I just want to go out and help my team and be an effective pitcher.''
Ventura had a 1.26 ERA in two starts against Baltimore this season.
''At times he gets a little ramped up with his stuff. He's learned how to control that a little bit,'' Yost said. ''By that I mean he'll waste pitches at times trying to throw too hard, but then always gathers it back in. Those are pitches that he's going to need as he moves further along to get him through the seventh and eighth innings. But I think he's just done a tremendous job all year long.''