WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Darren O’Day has made 176 appearances in three seasons with the Orioles.
He has never tossed as many pitches as he did Monday night.
O’Day threw 34 pitches (22 strikes) through two innings in the Orioles’ 8-2, extra-inning win over the Washington Nationals, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out three.
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The performance lowered his ERA to 1.13, on track for the best output of his career.
“Darren’s done a real good job this year defending himself against left-handed hitters,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “It’s allowed us to expand his role some.”
O’Day breezed through the eighth inning by inducing a lineout, a groundout and a lazy flyout, but he worked himself into trouble in the ninth. He struck out first baseman Adam LaRoche, a left-handed batter, to lead off the inning, but then yielded a double to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
With Nationals slugger Bryce Harper stepping into the batter’s box, Showalter trusted his numbers.
Entering Monday’s game, lefties were hitting .244 against O’Day. That’s down from .309 last year, but Showalter didn’t want to take his chances with Harper.
The Orioles intentionally walked Harper to face right-handed hitter Ian Desmond, with another righty, catcher Wilson Ramos, on deck.
O’Day, who began the day holding righties to a .205 average, fanned both to end the threat and send the game into extra innings.
“You’re picking your poison there,” Showalter said. “You’ve got three real good hitters, and you’re just trying to tilt anything you can in your favor a little bit.”
Monday’s two-inning outing was O’Day’s lengthiest of the year. His previous high was 1 2/3 frames, which he managed four times, most recently July 3 against the Texas Rangers. The right-hander pitched two full innings just once last season.
And Monday, he had no problems going that long again.
O’Day’s final delivery, a 89 mph four-seam fastball that retired Ramos, matched his fastest pitch of the night.