As you’d expect if you’ve paid attention to reliever Darren O’Day over the years, the veteran sidearmer was waiting by his locker to answer questions Friday night after he gave up two runs, including the key, tie-breaking homer to Alex Gordon in the Orioles’ 8-6, 10-inning loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
O'Day left an 87-mph fastball over the middle of the plate, and Gordon hammered it to right.
“Everybody can see when we screw up. You’re on the stage,” O’Day said. “It’s where we want to be, there’s no question about it. But sometimes you’re gonna be on the wrong end of things.”
O’Day had just pulled a magician’s act in the previous inning, entering with the bases loaded and getting the dangerous Billy Butler to ground into a double play. And then he served up a back-breaking homer to the next batter.
“Yeah, it was tough. That’s a hard-fought game by both teams. It’s really tough, the highs and lows of playoff baseball,” O’Day said. “You come in the inning before and got out of a situation you don’t expect to get out of and then, just as easy as that, like I’m throwing batting practice, I give up a home run.”
O’Day has allowed just seven home runs in 2014, but five have been to left-handed hitters. He has given up three since Sept. 14 -- all to lefties, all in the ninth inning or later in tie games.
“I take great pride in being able to get left-handers out. I’ve had a pretty good run at it; lately I haven’t been,” O’Day said. “Forget getting them out, you’ve got to keep guys in the yard, left-[handed], right-handed, you’ve got to keep the ball in play.”
** Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced after the loss that right-hander Bud Norris would be his Game 2 starter. Although Showalter is not confirming it, left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is expected to be the Game 3 starter and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will start Game 4.
** Nelson Cruz had two hits Friday and has had multiple hits in five straight games, dating back to 2012 when he was with the Texas Rangers. That streak equals the all-time longest, which has been accomplished 10 times in postseason history. The last was by the Boston Red Sox’s Kevin Youkilis in 2007. Cruz is also the ninth player to have two or more hits in four games to open a single postseason. The New York Yankees' Derek Jeter was the last in the 2012 ALDS against the Orioles.
** We’ve been giving predictions for every Orioles game this postseason. So here are our thoughts for Saturday: I say the Orioles win, 5-1. I think they have to win or the uphill climb will be brutal. Eduardo A. Encina says the Orioles will win, 5-4. Peter Schmuck says Royals win, 4-3.