On Thursday at Camden Yards, in a game the Orioles would win in 13 innings, Brian Matusz came on in relief of Kevin Gausman in the sixth inning. In the seventh inning, Boston scored twice off Matusz.
Why is that significant? Because Boston would not score against the Orioles bullpen for the rest of the four-game series.
Beginning with the eighth inning Thursday through the end of Sunday’s game - when Jim Johnson ended it getting his 25th save - the Red Sox did very little against the O’s bullpen.
Actually, the Red Sox got pretty much nothing off those pitchers.
Starting with that eighth inning Thursday, the O’s ‘pen pitched 15 1/3 innings over four games, allowing just two hits and no runs with one walk and 12 strikeouts.
Stunning stat alert: Boston batters went 2-for-46 against the O’s bullpen over that stretch for a batting average of .043. The two hits were singles and one was an infield single.
I’d call that a great performance by the bullpen, but “great” almost doesn’t seem sufficient in this case.
Keep in mind that Boston entered this series leading major league baseball in runs, doubles, extra-base hits, walks, OBP and OPS.
The O’s ‘pen shut down one of the best-hitting teams in baseball during a key series where the Orioles gained two games on first place.
The Orioles scored only 17 runs in a series where their pitching made a big difference. The O’s starters did a good job, as well. Yes, Freddy Garcia gave up five runs, but in the other three games, Gausman, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez pitched to a combined ERA of 2.55.
In started with a strong performance that helped the O’s win in 13 innings Thursday. On Friday, the ‘pen pitchers closed out a shutout. On Saturday, T.J. McFarland went 3 2/3innings by himself which helped keep the ‘pen pitchers fresh enough to add 2 2/3 innings and close out Sunday’s win.
Late in close games, when a big hit can make a huge difference, Boston batters couldn’t get that hit the last four days against the Orioles bullpen.