The Orioles have a few players with playoff experience on their current roster and reliever Darren O’Day is one of them. The 2010 Texas Rangers lost in the World Series and played 16 playoff games. O’Day pitched in 11 of them.
He got to experience a playoff-like atmosphere here at Camden Yards on Thursday. His key out of Derek Jeter ended the top of eighth in a 6-6 tie before the Orioles scored four in the bottom half to make him the winning pitcher.
“Thursday night’s game was pretty special, to see that kind of atmosphere here (in Baltimore),” O’Day said. “I haven’t seen that since I’ve been in the major leagues. And to look around at my teammates, some of those guys had never played a game that meant so much, to see how exciting that was for them and for me to feel that again was pretty special.
“Nobody expected us to be here except for the guys in this clubhouse. I don’t think anyone outside this clubhouse would have forseen this coming. We expected to be here,” he said.
When a reporter suggested that the Orioles are “playing with house money” O’Day pondered the phrase and kind of agreed with it.
“Maybe it is a different situation then for some teams, like that club across the field,” O’Day said. They are expected to be there every year. So they have to deal with expectations every year. There weren’t any expectations on us and it’s been kind of fun for us to be the team that raised expectations here. I imagine expectations will be a little higher coming out of spring training next year.”
O’Day is having a 2012 season very similar to his 2010 season with Texas:
2010: 6-2, 2.03 ERA. In 62 innings, 43 hits, 12 walks, 45 strikeouts.
2012: 7-1, 2.29 ERA. In 55 innings, 42 hits, 12 walks, 54 strikeouts.
O’Day’s 2011 season was shortened by surgery he had on April 29 to repair the labrum in his left hip. He was limited to 16 2/3 innings which led to him being waived by Texas and claimed by the Orioles on November 2.
O’Day is one of the players that can keep things loose in the clubhouse or the bullpen and he said the Orioles remain a loose bunch even now that the final games that mean so much are here.
“Same approach that has gotten us pretty far,” O’Day said. “Still goofing around as much, if not more. The guys that have been there know that it’s important to maintain that fun.”
He’s pitching like he did in 2010 and probably wouldn’t mind competing in three rounds of the playoffs this year as he did then with the Rangers.