The Orioles are 9-2 in extra innings this season and have won nine in a row, the longest streak in franchise history.
There have been different heroes, and today’s roll call included Steve Tolleson, who tied the game with a three-run homer, Ronny Paulino, who had an RBI single, Jason Hammel, who gutted out six innings, Troy Patton, who gave the Orioles two scoreless innings in relief, and Matt Wieters, who doubled to score Adam Jones with the game-winner.
“You try to present a lineup that gives you a chance to get Cliff (Lee) out of there, and that’s tough,” Showalter said. “Ronny had a big at-bat for us, Stevie did. And of course, Matty. We spent a lot of time trying to decide whether we were going to DH him or not.
“We just kept grinding, and we were fortunate that we got some really good innings from our bullpen again, and Hamm didn’t give in. I almost took him out after the fifth inning. He wanted that sixth inning and that might have been the difference in the game, being able to come out and pitch that sixth inning, because we were pretty short down there.”
Is a mentality developing that allows the Orioles to keep winning in extras?
“When it’s 96, 97 today, there’s not a whole lot of vibe of mentality going on after you’ve grinded like that,” Showalter said.
“Ronny Paulino took a direct foul tip off his calf, and I thought I might have to take him out, and I wasn’t going to be able to run for him. The mentality is competing. That’s a good team. I know they’ve had some struggles offensively this year, but you couldn’t tell the last three days. You get down 4-1 there with Cliff Lee, carrying that type of stuff. ... But, we were able to take advantage of some mistakes, and Matty put a good swing on the ball, and luckily we had the right guy (Jones) out there running.”
The bullpen began the day leading the American League in ERA (2.41), wins (13) and saves (22). Patton, Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day combined for four scoreless innings.
Asked how much longer he can expect to get so many innings from his bullpen, Showalter replied, “If you keep up with how we’re doing it, it’s because we have multiple people pitching well that we’re able to move it around. I’ll put our ups and innings pitched and appearances. ... We’re in pretty good shape because we have multiple people pitching there. We’re not riding one or two guys, and hopefully that will continue. Troy had two great innings today. He was our only guy who had three or four days off.”
Sellout crowds filled the ballpark the last two games.
“It’s great,” Showalter said. “Regardless of who they’re pulling for, I’m always honored, and we should be that somebody wants to spend their day here at our ballpark, whether it’s watching Philadelphia play or us. Just hoping we get to that point where they can’t get tickets. That’s what we hope to get back to, but in the meantime, we’ll take whatever they have to pony up to get in here.
“It’s big on a day like today where it’s a challenge to play. Most of our guys got out of here at 8 or 9 o’clock last night. It was like playing a night game yesterday with the extra innings, and you need that pick-me-up a little bit. You get the feel that it’s important to 40,000 people in the ballpark, and that does bring a sense of urgency. It shouldn’t be that way, but we’re human beings. It’s part of it. You feed off that emotion.”
Hammel walked a season-high five batters and gave up four runs in six innings, but he retired the last seven batters he faced.
“He made some big pitches there when he had to,” Showalter said. “I think two, maybe three of his walks were pitch-around guys, so I’m going to give him that one. A lot of guys after five innings in the heat are up there in the runway with the fan, kind of semi-apologizing and saying, ‘I’ll get them next time.’ He said, ‘I want another inning.’ He knows with the extra innings yesterday, we’re trying to give a couple days’ blow to our ‘pen. But the key to that game as much as anything was him not giving in with Cliff Lee out there and keeping us within a swing that Stevie gave us.”
Tolleson has three home runs in the majors, two of them coming this season.
“Having a little cheater on him, having been around his dad, I had a real good idea what I was getting,” Showalter said. “We’re all at the mercy of the mothers and fathers of the world. You’ve got a pretty good idea what he’s going to bring. You like to see good things happen to people who approach the game the right way, especially where he’s been. All-American at South Carolina, captain of the team for two years. This is a guy that has a really good pedigree, and it played out today.”