Buck Showalter on Darren O’Day: “He’s good people”

The schedule has 17 games remaining on it. Ten of those games are away from Camden Yards and they’re played in succession, an off-day on Sept. 24 the only interruption.

The Orioles need to develop their road rage before it’s too late.

A 29-45 record outside of Baltimore has undermined the Orioles’ efforts to repeat as division champions or grab one of the wild card spots. They could be toast by the time they return home on Sept. 28 for a four-game series against the Blue Jays.

They’re faced with another trip to The Trop, where they’ve gone 6-3 and won all three series. This includes the May 1-3 games when the Orioles served as the “home” team due to the riots.

Chris Tillman already has made five starts against the Rays this season and gone 1-3 with a 4.80 ERA. He’s 5-9 with a 4.27 ERA in 19 career starts versus the Rays and 2-3 with a 2.72 ERA in eight outings in St. Petersburg.

Tillman hasn’t won since Aug. 17 against the Athletics, going 0-4 with a no-decision. He’s 0-2 with an 11.77 ERA in three starts this month, allowing 17 runs and 20 hits in 13 innings.

Evan Longoria is 16-for-46 with four doubles and six home runs against Tillman, Logan Forsythe is 6-for-17 with two doubles, James Loney is 5-for-32 with a double and home run and Kevin Kiermaier is 2-for-14.

Left-hander Matt Moore is making his ninth start for the Rays. He’s already made an impression on the Orioles - or at least the left forearm of Chris Parmelee.

Moore allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings against the Orioles on July 26. He’s 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA in nine career games (eight starts).

Adam Jones is 11-for-21 with a double and two home runs, Matt Wieters is 8-for-14 with a double and two home runs, Steve Pearce is 5-for-14, Nolan Reimold is 2-for-5 with a double and Caleb Joseph is 1-for-2 with a home run.

Pearce has more pop at The Trop, his five home runs the most he’s hit in any opposing ballpark. He’s a career .283/.386/.600 hitter with four doubles and 11 RBIs in 19 games.

Pearce has hit eight home runs against the Rays, also the most versus any opponent, to go with a .270/.373/.539 slash line, seven doubles and 17 RBIs in 35 games.

O'Day-Sidewinding-Gray-Sidebar.jpgDarren O’Day rested last night after being used in three straight games over three innings. He threw 56 pitches to match his uniform number, and that was done purely by accident.

I’m just making the assumption.

O’Day is 6-2 with a 1.57 ERA in 60 appearances, with 44 hits, 13 walks and 71 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings. He’s stranded 15 of 19 inherited runners. In four seasons with the Orioles, he’s 23-8 with a 1.94 ERA and 0.953 WHIP in 265 games.

Where do you rank O’Day if you’re compiling a list of the top Orioles relievers of all-time - or at least over a period of four seasons?

There may not be a fifth season for O’Day in an Orioles’ uniform. He’s a pending free agent and figures to cash in despite turning 33 next month.

He may not bring in Andrew Miller money, but bullpen-challenged teams will make a strong push for him. Heck, the Tigers should back up the truck and name him their primary set-up man and closer.

The Oriole already felt the losses of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz in their clubhouse as well as their lineup. They’d lose another leader if O’Day bolted.

“Darren, there’s no doubt he’s the leader of that bullpen,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I could tell you the things that go on with that group every day to keep it as a unit. Once you get in that fraternity ...

“Chaz Roe talked about how when he had that two or three months when he was pitching real well and healthy, how comfortable the unit as a group made him feel and how quickly that helped him. So quantifying that, that’s what a lot of people don’t get. It’s like the George Jones song, who’s going to fill their shoes? Who’s going to walk that walk? Great song.”

I’ll need to find it on YouTube.

There’s a unique quality to O’Day that isn’t confined to his funky delivery.

“Darren is a baseball player who happens to be a pitcher,” Showalter said. “There are a lot of pitchers who are baseball players because they’re on a team. He’s a baseball player who happens to be a pitcher. He’s a guy that people want to please. He’s good people.

“There are some changes in his life - his daughter, he got married since he’s been here. It’s been pretty cool to watch. He’s sharp, competitive, as you all have seen. He doesn’t back off for nothing. And he’ll tell you it’s not always easy at 87 miles an hour.”

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