The Orioles can’t rely this much on their bullpen, no matter how good it is in 2014.
Bud Norris lasted only 4 1/3 innings today in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series - the same total that Chris Tillman produced in Game 1.
Tillman was spared a loss after the Orioles rallied from a 5-1 deficit. Norris left with the Orioles trailing 4-3 in the fifth, and Brad Brach escaped a jam.
Tillman went five innings in Game 1 of the Division Series. Wei-Yin Chen lasted only 3 2/3 innings in Game 2 before Norris worked 6 1/3 in Game 3. The Orioles managed to sweep the series, but it’s not a formula they should carry into the next round.
The Royals are too good. Their lineup, their bullpen, their defense.
Orioles starters have registered a 6.08 ERA in five playoff games. Norris was charged with four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, with no walks, three strikeouts and a home run. He just couldn’t locate and was gone after 90 pitches, including 67 for strikes.
Brach may be the lucky charm. He won seven games in eight decisions in the regular season and picked up another victory in the ALDS.
Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler were a combined 6-for-7 with three RBIs against Norris today. Manager Buck Showalter removed Norris after Cain singled with one out in the fifth.
Cain stole second - the Royals’ first theft in this series - but he was stranded.
The bullpen should be rested following Sunday’s workout, but the Orioles need Chen to give them more innings Monday night in Game 3 at Kauffman Stadium. Same with Miguel Gonzalez in Game 4, his first appearance in the playoffs this season.
The Orioles are down by only a run, yet it feels like so much more. Their pitchers still haven’t registered a 1-2-3 inning in the series.
Update: Norris also will avoid a loss today after the Orioles scored the tying run in the bottom of the fifth on Nelson Cruz’s fielder’s choice grounder.
Alejandro De Aza and Adam Jones singled with one out. Jones has two hits today, including a two-run homer.
Update II: The Orioles’ bullpen has been superb, keeping the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth.
Brach and Andrew Miller each tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Darren O’Day replaced Miller with two outs in the top of the eight and struck out Salvador Perez to give the Orioles their first 1-2-3 inning of the ALCS.
Miller has allowed one hit in 6 1/3 scoreless postseason innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Update III: The Royals have taken a 6-4 lead in the top of the ninth, again taking advantage of their speed.
Omar Infante led off with an infield hit off O’Day. Pinch-runner Terrance Gore moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Alcides Escobar’s double down the right field line.
Nori Aoki reached on Ryan Flaherty’s error and Lorenzo Cain delivered an RBI single for his fourth hit of the day.
O’Day stands to be the losing pitcher in the first two games of this series. Hard to pin much blame on him for today’s run.
Update IV: Greg Holland struck out Steve Pearce with a runner on base and two outs in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Royals won 6-4 to take a 2-0 lead in games in the ALCS.
Game 3 is Monday night in Kansas City.
The Royals still haven’t lose a playoff game in 2014.
The Orioles hadn’t lost two in a row at home since June 28-29.