It sure makes it easier to win when your pitching staff gives up 10 runs over a five-game stretch. And it was seven before the ninth inning Sunday.
Before this win streak, the Orioles had lost six of seven games and they gave up 45 runs during those six losses. Pretty easy to note the difference.
By the way, seldom will you see a player not produce a hit, score a run or have an RBI with a better game than Taylor Teagarden had Sunday. He caught Zach Britton and the two that followed him to the mound.
Teagarden seemed to be on the same page with Britton all day and also blocked several pitches in the dirt without any runners advancing. That is big for a sinkerball pitcher like Britton. He can’t be afraid to bounce one and has to trust his catcher to make the play. During his postgame interview on MASN with Jim Hunter, Britton praised Teagarden two or three times.
In the ninth, when it appeared Jim Johnson was struggling to command his fastball, Teagarden called for a few secondary pitches with the game on the line. That was gutsy because you could make a case that Johnson needs to stay with the No. 1 in that spot.
Also, Teagarden dropped not one, but two sac bunts in the game. On a team that struggles to score and has very few effective bunters, that was a refreshing sight to see.
Over nine innings Sunday, I think we saw why Buck Showalter is such a Teagarden fan and pushed for his acquisition over the winter.
With Sunday’s win, the Orioles are now 34-14 in games decided by two runs or less. That is remarkable and impressive to be 20 games over .500 in the close games. During this five-game win streak, they are 4-0 in these games. They are a major league-best 19-6 in one-run games, including an 11-2 mark in road one-run games.
When fans ask how can this team play poor defense, struggling to hit in the clutch and have rotation issues, and still be a contender, the answer is a 34-14 mark in the close games. No other American League team is more than seven games over .500 in the close games.
The Orioles have the best AL record in one- and two-run games:
.708 - Orioles (34-14)
.581 - Cleveland (25-18)
.574 - Oakland (27-20)
.571 - New York (24-18)
If the Orioles win tonight, they will have their first four-game sweep in Cleveland since September 1971. During that four-game series, Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer and Pat Dobson picked up their 20th wins. Earlier, Dave McNally had won his 20th and that was the last time in the major leagues that one team produced four 20-game winners in the same season.
Now, there is some real Orioles history.
Tonight, when Tommy Hunter pitches, the Orioles will look for a season-high, six-game win streak and a season-best sixth straight quality start. They are 38-5 this season when their starter goes six innings or more, allowing three earned runs or less.
Before this win streak, the Orioles had lost six of seven and 13 of 18, and were 7-17 over their previous 24 games.
They’ve been doubted and written off a few times this year. It should become a team motto: The 2012 Orioles - we gave up on you six or eight or 10 times this year.
But as I wrote yesterday, momentum has once again found itself in the Baltimore dugout.