An area of improvement that can’t be predicted or counted upon in 2023 is the Orioles’ success in close games.
A better bullpen deserves much of the credit.
Eighty-three were decided by two runs or fewer, the fifth-most in the American League and ninth-most in the majors. Manager Brandon Hyde would playfully remind everyone that there were no rules prohibiting big early leads and coasting to victories.
His club went 43-40, which tied for the fifth-most wins in the AL and sixth in the majors.
Flip back to 2021 and you’ll find that the Orioles played 63 games decided by two runs or fewer, tied for the least amount in the majors. Their 24 wins were the second lowest.
The Orioles won four games by scores of 1-0 this season - April 20 in Oakland, June 17 against the Rays, July 9 against the Angels, and Aug. 5 against the Pirates – which tied with the Cardinals for most in the majors. They hadn’t registered that many 1-0 victories since the championship season in 1983.
Three of those 1-0 scores in ’83 were notched in May, with Mike Flanagan, Storm Davis and Scott McGregor starting. Flanagan also started the Sept. 2 game in Minnesota.
Before this season, the last Orioles 1-0 victory was July 14, 2018 against the Rangers. They needed five pitchers to do it, starting with Yefry Ramírez, who worked five innings. Brad Brach was credited with the win after tossing a scoreless sixth.
The last 1-0 win on the road was June 6, 2018 against the Mets, a combined effort from Dylan Bundy (seven innings), Richard Bleier and Brach.
The Orioles have totaled 22 wins in 1-0 games since 2000.
Here’s something that the Orioles didn’t spend hours practicing. They were hit by pitches a club-record 83 times, the second-most in the American League and sixth in the majors.
The old record was 77 times in 2001, led by Melvin Mora with 14 and followed by Jerry Hairston with 13.
Fifteen players accounted for the 77.
Anthony Santander led the 2022 club with 13. A true commitment to improving his on-base percentage.
Santander’s total was the most by an Oriole since Adam Jones, also 13 times, in 2012. But there’s more.
It was the most by a switch-hitter in team history, surpassing the eight times Don Buford was hit in 1970.
Spenser Watkins is trying to hold onto his spot on the 40-man roster. He's unsure whether he has a chance to be a starter breaking camp. Or whether he's going to stay in the organization.
Here's what we do know about Watkins:
He went 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA and a .238 average against in six starts from June 25-Aug. 1. The Orioles were 5-1 in those games.
Three of Watkins’ six outings were quality starts. He allowed one run or fewer in five.
Tyler Wells couldn’t finish the season due to injury, but he made quite an impression when healthy.
There are no questions about his status in the organization.
Wells made 17 starts in a row from April 16-July 17 and allowed three earned runs or fewer, which tied for the third-longest streak in the majors. He posted a 3.01 ERA and limited opponents to a .219 average with nine home runs surrendered, 19 walks and
57 strikeouts. Five of the starts were quality.
The only Orioles starter to craft a longer streak in a single season since 1994 was
Chris Tillman with 20 from June 10-Sept. 20, 2014.
The more you know …