To no one's surprise, O's aren't winning the same percentage of the close ones this year

Those of you who said the Orioles couldn't possibly play as well as they did last year in close games were right. Those of you who said the O's bullpen couldn't pitch as well as it did last year, it is looking like you will be right.

Last night's loss was the Orioles' sixth on the year when they were leading after eight innings. That is the most losses in the league in those games.

This stat is not good: The Orioles are now 35-6 when leading after eight innings. That loss total matches the rest of the American League East combined with Boston at 40-2, New York at 35-1, Tampa Bay at 35-3 and Toronto 30-0.

Last season, the Orioles went 75-1 when leading after eight innings, the best record in the league, and now they have the worst mark in the AL.

After going an amazing 29-9 in one-run games in 2012, now they are 11-11. Their bullpen ERA ranked third in the AL last year at 3.00 and now ranks ninth at 3.95.

Jim Johnson saved an impressive 94 percent last year, going 51-for-54. Now he is at a respectable - but not nearly as good - 84 percent at 27-for-32.

The Orioles are just going to have a figure out another way to get to 93 wins - or more, if that is what is needed to make the playoffs.

They couldn't count on winning 76 percent of their one-run games this year and they probably didn't have a right to expect their closer to save a Mariano Rivera-like percentage again.

On the plus side, for the first time this year, O's starters have gone seven innings or more in back-to-back games. That obviously needs to happen more often, as just 11 times this year the O's have gotten a start of seven or more innings.

Jason Hammel said it pretty simply last night when asked about the starters need to get deeper into games the rest of this season.

"Yeah, we have to do it," Hammel said. "It's our job to get deep into games. With how many innings our bullpen has already pitched, we have to pick up the slack there. Getting late into games gives Buck (Showalter) more options and it is what we have to do."

It was a frustrating loss, especially when the Orioles scored twice in the eighth to get the lead and an uplifting win was three outs away.

I have always thought those ninth-inning outs are the toughest to get and that not just any pitcher can be a good closer. The ninth inning is different. It just is.

The Orioles have now lost five of six and now they can't wallow in a lost lead and one that got away. Time to get back into the winning ways tonight.

Well, the Orioles are not running off an amazing stretch of one-run wins. It's a new year and they need to find new ways to get the wins they'll need to be playing in October.

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