The Orioles won a game that Andy Pettitte started. A game that Mariano Rivera tried to close out. A game against the New York Yankees in September that prevented a sweep as they hit the road for a three-city trip.
Luke Scott tied it up with his leadoff home run off Rivera in the ninth. And he scored the winning run on Ty Wigginton’s single into the gap in right-center field.
The most satisfying win under manager Buck Showalter?
“I don’t look at it that way,” he replied. “It’s not about personal stuff, it’s about us, it’s about the Baltimore Orioles and it’s about Luke Scott hitting a big home run. It’s about Luke fighting off a fastball for a double there and Wiggy giving himself up and trying to drive the ball the other way, and he got rewarded for it. It’s about guys making good plays and not giving in.
“I’m not real happy about the 12 walks in two starts for Tillman. That’s not going to work. That kind of sets a lethargic tone when you’re out there in the infield in a day game and it’s ball one, ball two, ball three. That’s one of the reasons some of our young pitchers have been more successful, because they attack the zone and trust their stuff. That hasn’t been the case. He was fortunate in Detroit and he was fortunate today not to give up more, but probably one of the keys to the game was the job our bullpen did. Albers put a little sanity back in it and they let us hang around and you’re fortunate you give yourself a chance.
“I was real proud of them. There was a lot of want-to out there today and that’s what I was most proud of.”
Asked whether Tillman’s problems are solvable, Showalter replied, “I think a lot more of it is trusting your stuff. When you get to this level and look at the things they’ve done statistically in their career and you see some quality pitching, it become something else for me. It becomes a little more...you can’t read too many bubble gum cards here.”
Asked for the dugout reaction when Scott homered, Showalter said, “It was upbeat, obviously. They let us hang around and hang around and hang around. And I think as each inning passed and the score stayed there, once it goes to 3-2, there was a real positive feeding frenzy. We call it the PFF, and there’s an NFF. When you’re walking all those people, there’s a negative feeding frenzy. It’s such an emotional, mental game, it plays into it physically a lot.”
For Showalter, the decision to issue back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases in the 11th was an easy one. He didn’t want Michael Gonzalez facing Derek Jeter with runners on the corners and one out.
“When you’ve got to hold the runner on first base, it’s like opening up a carwash for him over there,” Showalter said.
One of the real keys to the game was Koji Uehara’s three-strikeout performance in the 10th after he blew the save Friday night and also blew another one in New York on Nick Swisher’s walk-off home run.
“There’s Swisher, who hurt him in New York. Posada had a great at-bat off him (Friday) night. That’s about as impressive a thing as happened today,” Showalter said.
“If you had any questions about the moxie a little bit, not that I did, but that’s one of the reasons we put him back out there. We could have easily gone with Gonzalez or someone else, but I thought it was important that he pitch there. And knew full well that he might get outs there, too.”