Backs against the wall, O's lean on experience

Backs against the wall, O's lean on experience

NEW YORK -- No team ever wants to be on the brink of elimination, but being there before -- and coming out alive -- certainly can't hurt should the situation arise again.

That's where the Orioles stand heading into Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday against the Yankees. It's win or go home, and the 2012 Orioles have experience doing the former.

Major League Baseball's new one-game Wild Card format put the O's in a must-win situation on Friday against the Rangers, when the O's rode a spectacular outing by Joe Saunders -- Thursday's starter -- to an ALDS berth. Baltimore sits in the same predicament tonight, but players have admitted that the experience gained against Texas will help them stay focused.

"I think the only way to become comfortable in those situations is to have experienced it," said O's left fielder Nate McLouth. "And that was kind of weird to have the first game of the playoffs be a do or die game, but that's exactly what it was. I didn't sense any nerves or any apprehension by anybody, especially Joe. He pitched in that situation and did well.

"I think we'll be able to kind of use that mentality to our advantage tonight."

The Orioles were 29-9 in one-run games in the regular season, and prior to Game 3 had won 16 consecutive extra-inning games. Manager Buck Showalter says he isn't exactly thankful for all of the close games his team has played in this season, like most other managers, he'd prefer to be up big, but admitted that its success in such situations will help keep the focus on the task at hand.

"Not once did this club or anybody take it for granted or assume that that's always going to follow to the next night and next night," Showalter said. "And that's why they're able to keep doing it, because they didn't assume and didn't take it for granted. They realized why they did it, they played good defense and made good pitches. And that experience is good because you know they have a feeling why it happened. That's what you draw from it, but it's just a matter of executing that."