Is it coincidence or confidence that has the Orioles winning lots of extra-inning games? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Is it coincidence or confidence that has the Orioles winning lots of extra-inning games?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Back in 2012, I had a discussion with then Orioles catcher Matt Wieters about the club’s ridiculous string of extra-inning games.

That team played 18 regular-season contests that lasted beyond regulation, and the Orioles posted a ridiculous 16-2 record on their way to their first playoff appearance in 15 years.

The craziest part is that they were actually 0-2 in extra-inning games to begin the year – both losses to the Yankees – and then won 16 straight.

Throughout that streak, many argued it was unsustainable, that it was simply coincidence. And the Orioles just kept winning in extras. The streak finally came to an end in the playoffs, when they lost two straight, again to the Yankees.

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That conversation with Wieters re-entered my mind when thinking about what the Orioles have done in additional frames so far this season.

They have played 56 games, and nine have gone beyond nine innings.

The Orioles are 8-1 in those contests after last night – the only loss coming to, you guessed it, the Yankees in 10 innings on April 28.

Tuesday night, the Orioles did it again, a 6-5, 10-inning victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Camden Yards. The Orioles won on a single by Mark Trumbo (pictured above, celebrating) that scored Adam Jones, who had wisely tagged and reached second base on a fly ball during the previous play. The 10th-inning heroics were set up in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run homer by Jonathan Schoop – his second longball of the game.

The Orioles have now played in, and won, more extra-inning games than they did all of last year, when they were 6-2. The only team in the majors to have played more extra-inning games in 2017 is Pittsburgh, which is 5-5.

So, is it pure coincidence, or are there reasons why a team plays a lot of extra-inning games and why they win (or lose) a lot of them?

I asked that question to Wieters in 2012, and like most queries, Wieters contemplated it before answering.

His take was that it probably was a coincidence that they played beyond regulation so often. But those 2012 Orioles had a good bullpen and plenty of home run hitters. So, they were never truly out of a game, and that probably led to several ties.

The other part, though?

Wieters thought there was a reason – besides the Orioles’ penchant for power – that made them so successful in extra-innings: Once the streak started, and they began winning game after game in extras, their confidence built.

There was a certain calmness in the dugout, he said, during those games that came as much from familiarity as success. That year, the Orioles played in seven games 13 innings or longer, and won all of them, including one that went 17 in Boston and another that lasted 18 in Seattle.

As those games dragged on, Wieters said the club believed they were going to win because they had so often. And so maybe their minds were more focused or their bodies were more accustomed to playing longer. They also had that good bullpen which could outlast opponents, and a strong tactical manager in Buck Showalter, which is helpful as more maneuvering is needed as the innings pile up.

Wieters couldn’t pinpoint one specific reason for the 16-2 mark – he’s a catcher not an analyst. But he believed the 2012 Orioles were more prepared for extra innings than their counterparts.

And maybe the same thing is happening now. Maybe these Orioles are developing a psychological or physical advantage with all these early-season, extra-inning contests. Or maybe it’s just a freakish stat and it will even out as the season progresses.

One other thing to keep in mind – at least way back in your mind – is that in the three previous times the Orioles have made the postseason under Showalter, their extra-inning records have been 16-2 (2012), 14-6 (2014) and 6-2 (2016). In the years they haven’t reached the playoffs during a full season with Showalter, their extra-inning records were 8-8 (2011), 8-7 (2013) and 6-5 (2015).

Coincidence? Confidence? A little bit of both?

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Osfan73

    June 7, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Agree with the above stated reasons.
    I like to think also that back in 2012 after something like14 straight losing seasons we saw an up and coming improving team tired of getting beat start to show a tremendous amount of resolve in a special way, in other words no more A.L. East doormat, kind of a culture change if you will.
    Also I think Buck does well getting the team to stay and focus on 1 game at a time, no looking ahead.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 7, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Buck is among the best at fostering the one-game mentality. And I think the Curse of the Andino game did wonders, too. The Orioles sat on that high all offseason — that they couldn’t be bullied any longer.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 7, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Coincidence? I think not. I’ve said it before, this team is about chemistry. A certain synergy has existed for the past half decade. And there are multiple reasons in my mind, starting with the character of several members (leaders) of the team, and starting with Buck and extending to Jones, Hardy and up until this year, Matt Wieters. Combine those factors with a couple of budding stars in Machado & Schoop , the end result is a team that produces at a higher level than the sum of it’s individual parts. The end result is a collective confidence and belief in one another.

    At the risk of incurring the wrath of the ‘Stache, and despite (albeit one BIG) extra-inning playoff gaffe last year, I believe Buck has demonstrated his mastery of the bullpen. Who else would have the juevos to use The Crusher for that last 2 innings of that 17 inning marathon win vs. the Sox in 2012? (I know .. nobody was left in the pen, but still … )

    I digress .. I think it’s more of a cumulative effect of a good set of relievers, a manager who knows how best to handle them, and a good group of leaders and quality players that filter down through the rest of the team, which inspires confidence and belief in themselves, which in turn, generates a collective never say die attitude. But then again … a little luck goes a long way ‘eh?

    • Dan Connolly

      June 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      I didn’t mention the veteran leadership thing either. But there is definitely merit to that, too. Kind of speaks to the calmness.

  3. TxBirdFan

    June 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    There’s been many a year when the Orioles were down by 2-3 runs in the 6th inning that I’d write it off as a loss. They just weren’t good at coming from behind in the late innings. (Especially to the Yankees during this era of unbalanced schedules which I don’t like now that I live in Texas – but that’s another story ). Something has changed and this year it seems they’ve had several late inning rallies – even in losses. It has to be confidence in their hitters (HRs help a lot!) and their pitching.

    A few weeks ago Dan asked about our favorite clutch hitters and there were several, even JJ Hardy who seems to save his hits until later in the game. When you have several recognized clutch hitters we should have more confidence to score late.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      And when they produce that only increases the confidence. Trumbo has three walkoff hits already and I think he is the perfect example of this. He definitely isn’t trying to do too much in crunch time. Eddie Murray and Chris Hoiles were two of the Orioles’ most clutch players and they both had very calm, non-ruffled demeanors. Trumbo is like that too. Very calculated.

      • Osfan73

        June 7, 2017 at 3:06 pm

        I don’t remember if he did this last year, but I love how Trumbo holds the bat upright out in front of him before every pitch, kind of like Jim Thome did.
        I’m sure it’s some kind of timing thing for him, but to me it looks like he’s telling the pitcher “You’re next pitch is all mine”…..BLAST OFF!!!!!!

  4. marcshank

    June 9, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Sorry, Dan, but I just saw the O’s drop yet another one, this time to D.C. where they looked like they shouldn’t have even been on the same field. I just want you to tell me why Angelos doesn’t step up and get Chris Sale before the season started. That’s right, Sale, Bundy and Tilly and Gausman when they come around. Isn’t the guy over 90? Doesn’t he want to see a series in Baltimore in his lifetime?

    Guess not. For once he could have spent the money. Instead, Chris Davis. Yea, great.

    • Dan Connolly

      June 9, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Chris Sale has nothing to do with Angelos. He was not a free agent. The Red Sox gave up a ton to get him, including the best prospect in baseball. The Orioles didn’t have anything near the package it took. You can condemn the farm system. But this was not a money thing. Goodness.

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