08/08/12 11:50 PM ET
Orioles bullpen continues to be team's strength
By Greg Luca and Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"The bullpen was the difference," Showalter said of a group that threw nine scoreless innings. "[We] took everybody to the limit."
And, like they've done all year, the Orioles' relievers delivered. Consider this: Baltimore's bullpen entered Wednesday with a 3.06 ERA -- fourth-best in the Majors and second-best in the American League -- despite throwing 370 innings, which is at least 40 more than the clubs ahead of them.
In 41 extra innings this season, the Orioles bullpen has pitched to a 1.10 ERA holding opponents to a .185/.242/.247 line after the ninth-inning and anchoring Baltimore's 12 consecutive extra-innings wins.
"I think the part that makes people scratch their head is nobody has ever heard of us," reliever Kevin Gregg, one of three pitchers who tossed two scoreless innings Tuesday, said of the Orioles 'pen.
"We've been able to use everybody in the 'pen consistently and mix [and] match roles and not really wear out anybody for a bunch of days in a row. It's created an environment for success for everything."
The Orioles are 23-6 in one-run games, with closer Jim Johnson tied for the league lead in saves (33) and setup man Pedro Strop extending his scoreless streak to 14 consecutive outings with an inning Tuesday. In addition to Gregg, Matt Lindstrom and Darren O'Day were extended to go two scoreless innings in Tuesday's marathon-contest, with O'Day throwing the 13th and 14th and improving to a perfect 6-0.
"We just have fun and whenever they call and tell us to pitch, we go and pitch," said O'Day, who is tied for the second-most wins by an Orioles reliever since 2000. "I wish I could tell you [why we're having so much success]. Nobody expected much out of us in Spring Training. So, it's fun proving people wrong."
Showalter has been careful to limit the ups each reliever gets in a game, choosing to not use Johnson after getting him up earlier in Tuesday's game given that he had pitched the three games prior. And despite the Orioles picking up a lot of innings, none of their relievers rank among the top in appearances, with Johnson's 49 games the most and ranking him 38th-most overall.
"They don't look at it as a reason to fail," Showalter said of the bullpen's beyond-the-norm workload. "There's an excuse there if you're willing to take it. I know [pitching coach Rick Adair] and the pitchers in the bullpen, most have talked about, 'OK here's where we are,' and it may not be perfectly conventional.
"I'm sure Darren is not used to pitching two innings, or Lindstrom or Kevin, but that's what we needed, and they were properly rested for that yesterday. But they're not for that tonight. That's why we made the [roster] moves. I'm not going to pitch them two innings tonight. We get into that same type of game tonight, you'll see [designated hitter] Chris Davis."
Bundy to be promoted to Double-A Bowie
BALTIMORE -- Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, will be promoted from Class A Frederick to Double-A Bowie before his next start.
The move is not expected to be made official for a few days. Bowie has an off-day on Monday, meaning Bundy will likely start during Tuesday's doubleheader.
The No. 4 overall pick and top high school player selected in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Bundy allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in his start against Lynchburg on Wednesday.
In his first pro season, Bundy is 6-3 with a 1.92 ERA between Frederick and Class A Delmarva.
He began his career with Delmarva, allowing zero earned runs on only five hits and two walks with 40 strikeouts in 30 innings.
That earned him a promotion to Frederick, where he is 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA. In 54 1/3 innings, he has surrendered 48 hits and 17 walks with 63 strikeouts.
Bundy has thrown 84 1/3 innings this season, and the Orioles had planned to limit him to about 120.
O's Flaherty lands on DL with bacterial infection
BALTIMORE -- Utility player Ryan Flaherty was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to a bacterial infection.
O's manager Buck Showalter said Flaherty is dealing with a lot of swelling in his glands, although his fever has subsided and the team has ruled out mononucleosis after taking blood work on Wednesday.
"The next 24-48 hours are really key for him," Showalter said. "We'll take it day to day."
Showalter said he was hopeful Flaherty would be able to join Class A Frederick or Double-A Bowie by Monday.
Flaherty, a Rule-5 Draft pick, is hitting .205 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 60 games this season. His last start was July 23 against Cleveland and he has not appeared in a game since Aug. 1, meaning he would be eligible to return Aug. 17.
With every bullpen arm aside from closer Jim Johnson appearing in Tuesday's 14-inning win, the O's recalled reliever Miguel Socolovich from Triple-A Norfolk to take Flaherty's place on the 25-man roster.
In four appearances spanning two stints in the Majors, Socolovich has pitched seven innings with a 9.00 ERA. He last appeared July 28, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings against the A's.
"It's going to be a day to day thing," Showalter said of Socolovich's tenure with the O's. "We've got to wait and see how it all shakes out."
In 52 innings for Triple-A Norfolk, Socolovich has posted a 1.90 ERA, allowing 33 hits and 14 walks with 52 strikeouts.
The O's also made official the callup of Wednesday starter Steve Johnson. Tommy Hunter was previously scheduled to start on Wednesday, but was scratched after he threw about 30 pitches in the bullpen during Tuesday's 14-inning win.
"We just didn't feel comfortable for Tommy, after getting fully hot last night to come in that game, which he had to do, that it was fair to start the game," Showalter said. "But he is available for an extended outing tonight."
Regardless of whether Hunter pitches on Wednesday, Showalter said he would "probably" start on Sunday in place of Zach Britton, who was optioned to Triple-A after Tuesday's game.
Britton allowed seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks in five-plus innings on Tuesday to push his ERA for the season to 8.10, but Showalter said his option to Triple-A was based more on "convenience" than performance.
"I thought Zach threw the ball better last night," Showalter said. "If that was able to carry him deeper in the game and we were able to play nine innings, he'd probably still be here."
Jim Thome, on the 15-day disabled list since July 31 due to a herniated disc, will leave the team at some point during the current homestead to continue his rehab at home in Illinois for a few days. Showalter said the next step from there will be either a return to Baltimore or a trip to Sarasota, as Thome hopes to stay with the club as much as possible.
Jason Hammel threw from 120 feet on Tuesday, and Showalter said all went well and Hammel is expected to be with the team on Saturday. The right-hander has yet to throw off of a mound, but has half-mound work scheduled for the next couple of days. Hammel has been on the DL since July 15 with a right knee injury that required surgery.
Adam Jones was presented with the Heart and Hustle Award in a pregame ceremony on Wednesday at Camden Yards. The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association selects a preliminary award winner from each MLB team, with a final winner to be announced on November 13.
The Orioles have won 11 consecutive one-run games since June 22, one shy of a franchise record. They are 22-6 in one-run games this season.
The O's have played seven games that went 12 or more innings this year, going 6-1 in those contests. They have won 12 consecutive extra-inning games, and are also 10-3 in games following extra innings.
Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks Wednesday night, going 5 1/3 innings and striking out seven in the 94-pitch outing for Class A Frederick.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.