The Orioles' 2-1 loss to the A’s on Saturday afternoon was a doozy. Manager Buck Showalter often talks about how momentum is only as good as how well you play the next day, and Saturday was a good example.
Less than 24 hours after a roller-coaster 9-7 win, they battled through a pitchers’ duel into the ninth inning before reliever Darren O’Day allowed a solo game-winning homer to Coco Crisp.
The Orioles were 29-9 last season in one-run games on their way to the playoffs. But that magic in close games just hasn’t been there this season. They are 14-23 in one-run games and have lost seven straight one-run decisions – all this month – and 12 of 14 going back to the beginning of September.
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And they head into today’s series finale just 16-16 since the All-Star break. Last year’s team surged in August. This year’s seemed has sputtered. At this pace, they’re not making the playoffs.
I’m certain that the Orioles have at least one good winning streak in them. They’re a good team with good leadership and a good clubhouse. But with 34 games remaining, you can definitely sense in the clubhouse that losses like this have a certain sting to them.
When Chris Tillman gives you eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball and strikes out nine, you need to find a way to win, even against Oakland’s Jarrod Parker, who hasn’t lost since May 22. That’s what playoff teams do.
Tillman has been sensational for most of the year, and what’s been good to see is that he’s able to handle early adversity, put it behind him and get stronger. On Saturday, he had a 1-0 lead before two doubles tied the game in a flash in the sixth. But instead of allowing it to snowball, he stopped the damage and went on to turn in one of his best outings of the year.
O’Day has also been a big part of the Orioles’ success as a late-inning arm. But while he’s been dominating against right-handed hitters this season, holding them to a .161 clip, left-handers have batted .324 against him. Five of the seven home runs against O’Day this season have been from left-handed hitters.
Crisp, a switch-hitter, obviously batted left-handed against the right-handed O’Day. Crisp’s splits are also lopsided. He hits right-handers at a .288 clip and left-handers at a .201 average.
Showalter said O’Day was one of the rested arms in the pen, and the manager might have also been preparing for extra innings.
“He was one of few rested guys down there," Showalter said. "Threw the ball well, just really made one mistake.”