On Saturday, the Orioles offense sputtered, right-hander Freddy Garcia couldn’t hold a lead, and the Boston Red Sox finally showed why the team is in first place in the American League East.
But there was a bright spot in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss, and it came from the bullpen.
Left-hander T.J. McFarland threw 3 2/3 innings of one-hit, one-walk relief while striking out five. He set a career high in innings, tied a career high in strikeouts and allowed one hit or less for the fifth time in 16 appearances.
After relieving Garcia with one out in the sixth, McFarland struck out the first three batters he faced — catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Stephen Drew and third baseman Jose Iglesias — on nine pitches. McFarland was the first Oriole to accomplish that feat since Alberto Castillo against Tampa Bay on Sept. 23, 2008.
McFarland also kept the Orioles within striking distance. When he entered, the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead, and the Orioles would post a late rally in the ninth that eventually fell short on a baserunning blunder for a game-ending double play.
“I'm really proud of him today,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He gave us a chance to make a run at the end. That was pretty impressive."
It was McFarland’s ninth scoreless outing of the year, and it dropped his ERA from 4.02 to 3.60. The Rule 5 pick earned his first career major league win two nights earlier by pitching a clean 13th inning in the Orioles’ 5-4 walk-off win.
The Orioles bullpen is currently riding a 13-inning scoreless streak, dating back to Thursday night. The hit and walk McFarland allowed were the first by an Orioles reliever since the seventh inning Thursday.
And McFarland has been a large part of that run of success.
“I thought McFarland was outstanding,” Showalter said. “That's about as good as you want to see in execution of pitchers.”