Observations on the Orioles' bullpen, Nelson Cruz's big game and more
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
The Baltimore Sun|
Sep 08, 2014 | 7:30 AM
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Even though the Orioles used seven relievers in their 11-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon, manager Buck Showalter said he didn't think he would need to call for bullpen reinforcements from the team's taxi squad in Sarasota for the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
There has been a spotlight on the bullpen for the past few days, especially with right-hander Darren O'Day dealing with a left hamstring strain and left-hander Andrew Miller tweaking a muscle in his left leg.
Miller, who made just two pitches in relief Saturday when the game was decided on a passed ball, earned his first career save with a scoreless 11th inning. O'Day pitched to three hitters, retiring one, walking one and allowing a double.
"We were pretty short," Showalter said. "I think we'll have everybody back. Darren, his last hitter or so, felt good, so it was good to get out of that. He and Andrew feel pretty good physically, so that's good."
Left-hander Joe Saunders threw just four pitches Sunday. He was removed after an intentional walk to Ben Zobrist when the Rays went to pinch-hitter Wil Myers. Right-hander Tommy Hunter then entered the game and needed just one pitch to get an inning-ending double play.
-- To those fans who have said that Showalter's not trying to win games with such a large division lead, the Orioles used a total of 23 players Sunday. That's the most the club has used since Sept. 14, 1960 (23) and one shy of the franchise record of 24 on Sept. 7, 1958 against Boston.
It's also the most players Showalter has used in a game in his managerial career. He previously used 21 twice.
-- Nelson Cruz's seven-RBI day marked the first time that a player recorded seven or more RBIs and drove in all of his team's runs since the Colorado Rockies' Jason Giambi drove in seven runs on May 19, 2011 at Philadelphia. Cruz is the first American League player to do it since the Angels' Garrett Anderson drove in seven runs on May 8, 2003 against Cleveland.
Cruz's three-run triple was his first triple since July 1, 2011 against the Marlins. It also was the first bases-loaded triple by an Orioles player since Nick Markakis' on Aug. 11, 2008 at Cleveland and the first go-ahead bases-loaded triple since Brady Anderson on July 7, 2001 against Philadelphia.
It was also Cruz's 13th career multihomer game and his third career game of seven or more RBIs. He had a career-high eight RBIs twice.
Cruz's 39 homers are also the most by an Orioles right-handed hitter since Frank Robinson hit 49 in his Triple Crown season in 1966. On Sunday, Cruz passed Mark Reynolds (2011) and Albert Belle (1999), who both hit 37.
-- As weird as Sunday afternoon's inside-the-park homer was, Orioles right-hander Bud Norris said it wasn't the strangest play he has seen when he has been on the mound.
Outfield collisions happen, but when Alejandro De Aza and David Lough ran into each other in left-center field in the fourth inning of the Orioles' win, Lough hit De Aza's arm and knocked the ball out of his glove and into the left-field corner about 100 feet away before Lough was able to chase it down.
Norris said it was the second weirdest play he has seen on the mound. The strangest one? He said it took place in his first relief appearance in the Arizona Fall League.
"I was closing in a 1-0 game." Norris said. "Full count, the first baseman told me he was not covering the bag. I decided to make a pickoff anyway, I drilled the runner and the ball stayed right there. He did not advance a base and I got the next guy to pop out to center. So, I attempted a pickoff with no first baseman there and hit the runner. Did not advance. I think I broke the kid's rib."