The Texas Rangers pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning that proved the difference Thursday, but manager Buck Showalter pointed to the inning before as a difference maker in the Orioles' 2-0 loss.
Having retired the final two batters of the seventh inning, reliever Darren O'Day retired the first two batters of the eighth before he was lifted for left-hander Brian Matusz.
Matusz gave up a base hit to first baseman Mitch Moreland and walked designated hitter Prince Fielder — a pair of left-handed batters who were a combined 1-for-8 against Matusz in their careers — before right-hander Chaz Roe came in and ultimately escaped the inning unscathed.
Showalter said with closer Zach Britton unavailable after working two straight days and the Orioles bullpen, which had starter Bud Norris as the seventh arm Thursday, needing to be saved for the weekend series, he didn't want O'Day to surpass the 19 pitches he had already thrown.
Though Matusz wasn't responsible for any damage, it set the table for a more difficult ninth inning, Showalter said.
"It does matter because it creates more pitches for Chaz," Showalter said. "I don't believe that those things don't matter because you may get out of it, but it gives Chaz a second up and Darren had around 20 pitches. We're trying to have him available tomorrow. With where we are in the bullpen, we had to do some things a little differently tonight. We knew going into the game. If we had Zach to pitch the ninth inning, it might have been a little different. Darren can defend himself there, but that's a job that Brian needs to be able to do for us, and has."
Matusz, the sole situational left-hander in the Orioles bullpen with Britton entrenched in the ninth inning, has a 2.45 ERA in 25 appearances (25 2/3 innings), with a 1.36 WHIP and 27 strikeouts.