Get ready for this because it is surely coming. A theme for columns and stories about the 2013 Orioles is going to be how they can't possibly duplicate the 2012 squad in wins in close games.
So how will the 2013 Birds overcome that?
The Orioles went 29-9 in one-run games in the regular season. Their .763 win percentage is the highest in major league history. In the AL this year, Cleveland was second at .667 (24-12).
Every other AL East team played under .500 ball in one-run games:
.468 - New York (22-25)
.438 - Tampa Bay (21-27)
.436 - Boston (17-22)
.375 - Toronto (15-25)
The Orioles went 54-23 (.701) in games decided by one or two runs and then went 2-2 in those contests in the playoffs.
The Orioles won their last 16 regular season extra-inning games, extending a franchise record. They played 60 extra innings and outscored their opponents 33-5 in extra frames. According to Elias, the 16-game win streak in extra innings is the longest in the majors since the 1949 Indians won 17 straight.
How could the team possibly duplicate amazing success like that next season?
Even the most optimistic fan might concede that is quite unlikely. But here are some possible reasons the Orioles might be able to offset a falloff in their one-run win percentage and win percentage in close games next year:
* Their defense should be sound from the first game and not a liability until after the season's midpoint.
* Miguel Gonzalez's first start will likely come sometime in April and not on July 6.
* Manny Machado's first game should be opening day and not Aug. 9.
* Jason Hammel may make 32 or 33 starts and not 20.
* Nick Markakis may play in 160 games and not 104.
* A very good bullpen could be good again and maybe pitchers like Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter who seemed to thrive in 'pen roles will be there for an entire season.
No doubt the Orioles bullpen can be a strength again next year and that was probably the biggest reason for the success in the close ones, so maybe the 2013 Orioles can be good again, even if not quite as good as they were this year.
What is your take?: Can the Orioles keep winning the close ones? If they do have a falloff there, where will they make up for it? What was the biggest reason or reasons the team did so well in the close ones this season?
Update: According to this story, the Red Sox plan to interview Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale, a former Red Sox coach, for their managerial opening.