In a late-inning situation that's often been reserved for right-hander Brad Brach, Orioles manager Buck Showalter instead turned to newcomer Logan Ondrusek in the seventh inning Monday night against the Oakland Athletics.
With the Orioles trailing by one run with a left-handed part of the batting order looming, Ondrusek – a right-hander with a history of success against lefties – came on to keep the game close. He allowed the decisive run in the Orioles' 3-2 loss to the A's.
Ondrusek, all of four appearances with the Orioles under his belt, immediately walked the first batter he faced in No. 9 hitter Ryon Healy. Healy eventually scored following a two-out RBI single by left-handed hitting Stephen Vogt, giving the A's a 3-1 lead.
Usually, that's a situation gift-wrapped for Brach, who has been exemplary against both left-handers and right-handers. Plus, he was well rested, having not pitched since Friday.
Showalter constantly talks about keeping his relievers out of harm's way, and we all know how well he works his bullpen.
He used Brach in the first half of the season more often than he typically would, partially because of Darren O'Day going on the disabled list and also because Brach emerged as a rubber-armed All-Star reliever.
But Brach hasn't pitched all that often lately. He's pitched just four times over the past two weeks, which is peculiar even for a reliever that a manager is looking to give a rest.
Brach's results haven't been the same. He's allowed four runs – three earned – over his last six appearances, posting a 5.06 ERA after recording a 0.86 mark over his first 43 games this season.
In those six appearances, left-handed hitters are 7-for-15 with two walks. Lefties are now hitting .265 against Brach (compared to .081 against right-handed hitters). Getting left-handers out was one of the keys to Brach's breakout first half and Brach said earlier this season that he really concentrated on getting lefties out more this season.
It will be interesting to see how Brach is used over the remaining days in Oakland. The A's are heavy on left-handed bats, so Brach should see time over the next three games.
Left-hander Wade Miley will make his second Orioles start Tuesday against the Athletics. He's seen success in limited action against Oakland.
Despite pitching in the American League West with the Mariners this season, Miley hasn't faced the A's this season, but owns a 2-0 record and 1.29 ERA in two career starts against the Athletics, with both outings coming last season when Miley pitched for the Red Sox.
In one start at Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Miley threw 6 2/3 shutout innings against the A's on May 13, 2015, a game in which he allowed five hits and walked four.