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When Koji Uehara went on the disabled list May 25 with a right forearm strain, I considered his extensive injury history and wondered if he'd ever pitch again for the Orioles.

Now, I wonder if the Orioles can afford to not resign him and bring him back as their closer next season.

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After pitching a perfect ninth inning in the Orioles' 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays last night, Uehara now has 11 saves in 13 opportunities. That's not going to overwhelm anybody, but his performance since his last blown save should.

Since surrendering a game-winning, three-run homer to the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning Sept. 17, Uehara has faced 15 batters in five outings and retired every one of them. Eleven of those 15 outs have come on strikeouts.

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Speaking of strikeouts, Uehara has now fanned 41 batters since he issued his last walk to the Toronto Blue Jays' Fred Lewis on July 16. That's the longest stretch of strikeouts between walks in the American League since Pedro Martinez fanned 49 batters without issuing a walk in 2000.

He also has set a club record by not walking a batter in 30 consecutive appearances spanning 32 innings. He went to 3-2 last night against the Rays' Dan Johnson and promptly struck him out.

He faced six batters in the Tampa series and struck out five of them. Ben Zobrist was the only batter to make contact and he hacked at the first pitch, sending a harmless pop-up into the glove of center fielder Adam Jones.

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