BOSTON - Eighteen of the Orioles’ last 24 games have been decided by two runs or fewer, including tonight’s 5-3, 12-inning victory over the Red Sox.
The bullpen really comes into play in these situations, and it shined tonight under the lights at Fenway Park.
Darren O’Day wasn’t available after rejoining the team earlier today, but he should be ready for Thursday night’s series finale. Manager Buck Showalter wanted to give him one more day to rest after Tuesday’s bullpen session in Sarasota.
Jason Hammel would have been used in relief tonight if the game had continued into the early morning hours.
The bullpen hasn’t allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings in the first two games of this series.
“You’re very cautious, and I’ve talked all through the year, very cautious about the health of your bullpen, because there’s going to come a time in September where you’re going to have to go to the crop with them,” said manager Buck Showalter. “It’s been one time up, into the game, minimum pitches, right back. It’s the stressfulness of it. Tomorrow may be a different story.
“I’ll tell you I didn’t have Darren tonight, but I feel like we’ll have him tomorrow. I was trying to get through that game. Ham was getting ready to head to the bullpen the next inning. Even potentially (Bud) Norris if it got there. We were trying to stay away from Chris Davis.”
Showalter smiled at the recollection of using Davis in last year’s 17-inning marathon.
Davis came through at the plate tonight with a two-run single in the top of the 12th.
“I’m going to run out of adjectives for what he’s done,” Showalter said. “Chris has been solid and he’s been consistent. I’ll tell you, he made a couple of plays tonight at first base that most people don’t make. That’s kind of what I dwell on. We don’t ever take for granted what he’s been doing. We’re fortunate that it came in a time and place where they had to pitch to him.”
Kevin Gausman struck out five of the six batters he faced. Is this the best that Showalter has witnessed from the rookie?
“Maybe up here,” he replied. “Ron Johnson has seen him as good. Ron has been a great resource for us, having him here.
“I think Gaus, this time of year, stuff plays. He’s pitched in front of some big venues. I know it’s LSU, but until you go to an SEC game on Friday night, it rivals... He’s pitched with high expectations a lot in his career.”
Tampa Bay beat Texas tonight, moving the Orioles within a game of the Rangers for the second wild card. It can get confusing.
“Who are you pulling for there?” Showalter asked reporters.
“Like I told you all, we’ve got to try and do what we did tonight. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.”
Asked if a game like this one can launch a team into the postseason, Showalter replied, “We could have had that same conversation last night. It’s the time of year where things could snowball and it could really take off from a positive standpoint, but that wasn’t an easy jaunt there. We all know that. You watched it.”