Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to rely on right-hander Brad Brach on Saturday, not a day after the reliever tossed two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
When starter Wei-Yin Chen lasted just 3 1/3 innings, though, the manager knew Brach, and the rest of the bullpen, faced a significant workload.
But there was no sign of fatigue from Brach, who delivered 1 2/3 perfect innings. Nor was there any letdown from four other relievers, who combined to finish the game without surrendering a run in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss.
“I was proud of the bullpen,” Showalter said. “Brach was the guy we pushed today that we really didn't want to.”
In the past eight games, the bullpen has thrown 29 2/3 innings and surrendered only one run, good for an 0.30 ERA.
That has lowered their season ERA to 3.46, fifth-best in the American League. Showalter said all but two relievers would be available for Sunday’s series finale against the Rays.
On Saturday, the Orioles received inning-long contributions from Tommy Hunter, Ryan Webb, T.J. McFarland and Darren O’Day. Along with Brach, they totaled 5 2/3 innings and surrendered three hits while walking one batter and striking out eight.
That was nearly enough for the offense, which managed just three hits through seven innings before putting the tying run on third base in the eighth.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz flied out to end the threat and the Orioles went quietly in the ninth, but the bullpen’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed.
“They did a really good job keeping us there, stopping the bleeding and giving us a chance to come back,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “We just kind of fell short, but they've been doing a really good job all year. Those guys keep battling each and every day and have done good for us.”