How good has Darren O'Day been for the Orioles this year? Throw out just about any superlative you want, and it likely fits.
O'Day continues to be outstanding in the postseason. He has pitched in all three games against Texas and New York with a combined 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with no walks and three strikeouts.
He came into the Texas game and preserved what was, at the time, a 2-1 lead. He kept the game tied 2-2 Sunday and struck out Alex Rodriguez in the seventh last night with the O's holding a 3-2 lead.
It seems like O'Day can pitch all day and every day. I asked him what has been the key to his ability to pitch so often for the Orioles.
"I think the key would be the way Buck has used the bullpen all year," O'Day said. "He's limited the up-down and warm-ups and sit-down, and that takes so much wear-and-tear off your body. You know at this point of the year, it doesn't matter if you are tired or don't feel great. You have to do what you do. But it gives me confidence knowing that Buck has the confidence in me. That means a lot to me."
O'Day went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 69 games and a career high 67 innings in the regular season. He gets out both left-handed (.207 average against) and right-handed batters (.200 average against) about equally well.
The Orioles are an impressive 76-0 this year when they lead after seven innings, and the bullpen has been a huge part of that. O'Day said the bullpen pitchers just believe they can protect any lead late in the game.
"I've been saying it all year," he said. "All those one-run games and extra-innings and those type of games have prepared us well for this. In the playoffs, you are not going to have many blowouts because these are the best teams. We are not cocky or taking anything for granted, but we don't mind pitching in those situations."
O'Day has now put together 10 consecutive scoreless appearances and has pitched to an ERA of 1.29 over his last 23 games.
He pitched in 14 games in September, his second busiest month next to May. Now he's worked in all three postseason games. The O's bullpen was great again last night and, as usual, O'Day was right in the middle of it.
By the way, how about this quote from Buck Showalter last night on the fans? Pretty much says it all:
"It means a lot. It means a lot to us, and I know what it means to them," he said. "There's not a city in America that loves their baseball team more than this city, and I've seen it on both sides. It's a great feeling for our players to give back the faith that they've had in them this year. We put them through some tough times, and the challenge will be after this season is over keeping that feeling. It's not chemistry, it's Ws. Show me the end game. They like good baseball. They like this team. The city is a lot like this team, and I think they share a real kinship with the way our guys approach competition."