Leading by one in the ninth inning, with the game on the line? The Baltimore Orioles don’t mind the pressure.
The Baltimore Orioles rank fifth most in one-run games since 2014, and trail just one team in the American League for most wins decided by just one run.
Only the Texas Rangers have won more ballgames by a margin of one run. The Rangers have a one-run win-loss record of 88-56, while the Orioles ended play yesterday with a record of 81-65.
Here’s an in-depth look, year-by-year at how the Baltimore Orioles have performed in one-run games.
In 2014, the O’s finished with a record of 32-23 in one-run ballgames. Tommy Hunter held the closer role until the middle of May until Zach Britton replaced him. Hunter tallied 11 saves before allowing back-to-back home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers on May 13.
From May 15 forward, Britton began to show his dominance. He converted 37-of-41 saves, finished the season with a 1.65 ERA, and limited opposing hitters to a .178 average.
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In 2015, the Orioles finished just a game under .500 in one-run games at 25-26. The bullpen ERA was a 3.21 to end this season, and pitchers like Mychal Givens (0.867 WHIP), and Darren O’Day (0.934 WHIP) came up huge in clutch situations.
Britton again inserted his dominance by going 36-for-40 in save chances. His ground ball-to-fly ball ratio was the best of his career at 4.27.
Last season, the Orioles finished with a 21-16 record in one-run games, due in large part to a bullpen that completed the year with 32 wins. Brad Brach had a better record than most starters (10-4), and Donnie Hart showed what he’s capable of by holding opposing hitters to a .194 average. He finished the season with an ERA of 0.49 in 22 appearances.
Oh, and that Britton fellow was involved again too. You know, just going 47-for-47 in save chances, and limiting right-handed hitters to a .155 average, and lefties to a .185 average.
Can the Baltimore Orioles continue winning one-run ballgames?
They’re already off to another hot start, winning four-in-a-row to begin the season, and three of those victories have been by one-run. A bullpen corp that has appeared in 16.2 innings through four games has not allowed an earned run yet, and are striking out opponents at a rate of 8.6 per 9 innings.
Beginning play today, Orioles pitchers were allowing just a .176 average with RISP, and opposing hitters were only 6-for-34, with two HRs. Also, relief pitchers have faced 67 batters, and have allowed just 13 hits.
As scripted as it may be, the bullpen is in the position they are because starters aren’t going deep into games. Except for Dylan Bundy on Wednesday, starters have not gone more than five-and-a-third innings, and have allowed 11 earned runs. The Orioles are hoping Wade Miley can turn in a good outing this afternoon.
The Orioles have played just four games, and have a long season remaining, but if their bullpen is any indication of how the season will continue to pan out, Birdland should have all fingernails remaining intact this summer.