|Darren O'Day and the Baltimore bullpen are working hard these days. (Getty Images)|
The Orioles' loser-leave-town ALDS match-up with the Yankees is headed into Game 5, and the story to date -- besides the white-knuckled nature of the entire thing -- is the work of the Orioles' bullpen. It has a solid 3.12 ERA for the series, but that undersells the excellence of the relief pitchers, since five of the six earned runs they've allowed belong to closer Jim Johnson.
More notable is that they've been worked uncommonly hard ("rode hard and put away wet," is how, say, Buck Showalter might describe their toil.).
How hard? Let's compare what's unfolded in the ALDS so far to a typical regular-season game for the Baltimore pen (table to follow in, fittingly, Orioles orange and black) ...
As you can see, that's a pretty drastic uptick when it comes to all phases of "doin' work."
You can even stick a "fatigue multiplier" in there if you like: After all, it's October, and the Orioles bullpen in the regular season ranked third in the AL in innings, fifth in appearances and fifth in total pitches thrown (and easily first in all those categories among playoff teams). And let's keep in mind that more work will almost certainly be required of the relievers in Game 5, and if the O's are fortunate enough to advance, then they won't have an off day before the ALCS begins. More work!
If there's a standard-bearer for all of this, it's probably side-armer Darren O'Day, who's appeared in all four ALDS games to date and worked a total of five innings. He was critical to the O's win in Game 4, and it wouldn't surprising to see O'Day rub some dirt and or healing salve on it and make an appearance in Friday's deciding game.
Let it be said that this isn't a criticism of any sort. It's that all-in time of year, and, as Showalter well knows, you do what you must do to survive another day. Mostly, consider this a tip o' the cap to the Orioles relief corps, which is doing some serious heavy lifting these days.