KANSAS CITY, MO. — Maybe it's not quite fair for the focus to be placed squarely on the Orioles bullpen after the team's past two losses to the last-place Kansas City Royals. The Orioles offense -- which placed just one runner in scoring position despite hitting three solo homers in Saturday night's 4-3 loss – hasn't done its job. And a 4 1/3-inning start by right-hander Chris Tillman in his second outing off the disabled list put more pressure for the bullpen to log innings.
Still, the cryptic unavailability of the team's key late-inning relievers has been mystifying. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give right-hander Brad Brach some days off after the blown save Wednesday night in Washington, but Saturday marked the fifth straight day without right-hander Darren O'Day, who last pitched Monday night.
Showalter said after the team's loss Saturday that O'Day had been dealing with a physical problem that made him unavailable, but believed he would be ready to return if needed in Sunday's series finale in Kansas City.
"Yeah, I think we should be back on our feet tomorrow with everybody," Showalter said. "Darren was dealing with a little something, but it looks as if that's behind him. Brad, I just wanted to give him three days, regardless. That's hard to do the way we're constituted down there right now. We'll see. … If we can get a little deeper in the games with our starters, that will work its way out."
After right-hander Alec Asher threw 2 2/3 innings in relief Saturday – he likely wouldn't be available for Sunday's game -- Showalter got use of an extra reliever when left-hander Richard Bleier was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk early Sunday afternoon and left-hander Vidal Nuño was optioned to the Tides.
Breaking down Davis
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis hit his fifth homer of the season in the sixth inning Saturday. It was just his second homer over his past 25 games, spanning 102 plate appearances.
All five of Davis' home runs have been solo blasts, a trend that goes back to his last two homers last season. That's explains Davis' single-digit RBI total (nine) in 2017.
And while Davis didn't have any opportunities to drive in runs with runners in scoring position Saturday, his numbers with RISP are interesting to dissect. He's hitting just .150 with runners in scoring position, going 3-for-20. While he's not driving in runs, he's still extending innings, as shown by his 10 walks and .406 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position.
That can be seen as good and bad. Davis has a good eye, and he's always among the team leaders in walks, and his patience extends innings, but he's making his livelihood on his ability to hit the ball out of the park.