Orioles manager Buck Showalter is usually more than willing to give you a thoughtful answer to just about any question a reporter might ask during his pregame media session every day.
But I found a question that didn’t thrill him today. It was when I blurted out, “Hey Buck, what is the key to the Orioles success in the close games?”
“I’m not going to jinx that,” he said.
But after winning 5-3 over Boston last night, the Orioles now lead the AL in winning percentage in both one- and two-run games. They are 22-6 (.786) in one-run decisions and 18-11 (.621) in games decided by two runs.
Here is an amazing stat: The Orioles are 23 games over .500 in those games with a combined 40-17 record. No other AL team is more than seven games over, which is Oakland at 31-24.
Run differential be damned.
“The bullpen has been a big part of it,” Showalter would go on to say. “A lot of that is being able to hold on until you can push that run across and that’s the bullpen.
“You know (winning the close ones) is not a topic of conversation in our clubhouse or something they talk about in the dugout when we have a one-run lead. But I think it’s a state of mind more than anything. They don’t dwell on it.
“I just think they live in the moment, they stay in the moment. And that’s hard to do. That’s a reflection on good players. You just trust them and try to stay out of their way as a manager and coach sometimes. They are self starters,” he said.
So the Orioles now have the AL’s best record in one-run games, two-run games and extra-inning games.
So, if they lose a close one tonight, you can probably blame me.