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Orioles can't lose in 1-run games, extras

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
The Orioles are making history when it comes to winning the close ones. (Getty Images)

I long ago gave up trying to figure out this year's Orioles model and instead just allowed myself to enjoy the absurdities. This is already a deliciously improbable season for Baltimore, and there's still much stretch drive to go. I won't begin to guess what the days ahead will bring, but if recent history is any guide then lots of close triumphs are in the offing.

Indeed, nothing etches the 2012 Orioles in sharper relief quite like this: after Thursday's 3-2 win over the Rays in 14 innings, the Orioles are now 27-7 in one-run games and 13-2 in extra-inning games.

Once more, for adequate absorption: 27-7 in one-run games, 13-2 in extras.

That, quite simply, is coconuts. In fact, if the Orioles end the season in similar fashion, then they'll become just the ninth team since 1900 to finish 20 or more games above .500 in one-run affairs (and the first since the 1985 Reds). As our own Danny Knobler noted not long ago, the Orioles presently have the highest winning percentage in one-run games in baseball history (.794 at present).

That would be astounding enough, but Thursday's white-knuckle win also pushed them into a 10th-place tie with the 1973 Giants for highest all-time winning percentage in extra-inning games (minimum 10 such games in a season). So the 2012 Orioles are making history on two fronts.

What does it all mean? In the case of one-run games, not as much as you might think. To be sure, a good bullpen, which the Orioles have, helps, as a does a tactically adept manager, which the Orioles also have. Otherwise, though, there's a lot of luck -- good or bad -- baked into records in one-run games. There's not much correlation from year to year, and there's no discernible relationship between success in one-run games and, say, a veteran roster or decorated skipper.

However, none of that really matters insofar as the hopes of the 2012 Orioles are concerned. They're doing a historically unprecedented job of winning the close ones, and that's why Baltimore may find itself part of the postseason fray for the first time in 15 years.

Know this: they are the OriLOLes no more ...

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