No discussion about or dissection of today’s 5-4, 10-inning win over the Yankees would be complete without mention of the Orioles’ bullpen, which turned in six scoreless and hitless innings.
Orioles relievers have now worked 13 1/3 scoreless innings over the last three games, with four hits, three walks and 17 strikeouts. Eight of those strikeouts came today, including four from Kevin Gregg over 1 1/3 innings.
Jo-Jo Reyes was a calming influence after replacing starter Alfredo Simon with 2 1/3 innings that included two strikeouts.
“I thought Jo-Jo came in and sort of settled things down a little bit,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Obviously, Simon was having problems with the strike zone. I think everybody was today. It seemed like command was an issue.
“A lot of big outs recorded. Kevin pitched real well against the tough part of that lineup. The stress to go through that lineup that many times and not give up any runs after that inning... (Troy) Patton threw the ball well. You’d have to be real picky to say anything negative about the pitching after the fourth inning.”
Robert Andino tied the game with a single in the eighth and won it with a single in the 10th.
It was a mixed bag with Andino. He also failed to cover second base on an attempted force - J.J. Hardy flipped the ball to no one - and tried unsuccessfully to steal third in the eighth after already being in scoring position for Hardy with two outs.
“I’m not going to make an excuse for him, but moving positions around - third, second... He knows he’s got to be covering the bag there,” Showalter said. “I think he assumed - and I haven’t gone there yet. It’s one of those things I will after, on the plane or something - he assumed that J.J. was going to make the throw to first. It looked like he was getting down to get out of the way of the throw. We need to cover second there.”
Andino was running on his own on the stolen base attempt.
“Not a good play,” Showalter said. “He knows that. It’s a good play if you make it easily. Take the breaking ball away from them. You know the old adage about two outs, third out at third base, especially with J.J. up there. But let’s be honest, there’s a fine line about taking a guy’s aggressiveness away from him. You’ve got to have a little reckless abandon still in baseball and pick your spots, which led to a W yesterday.
“There’s two ways to look at that. He makes it and the guy throws it into left field, we’re all taking about the aggressive play. If the next pitch is bounced after he makes it and goes to the backstop, it’s a great play. There’s a lot of things you can dwell on there. It’s kind of like a 30-foot jump shot. It leaves his hand and everybody says, ‘Oh no,’ and it goes in. We’re all trying to walk that line, as managers and coaches, of making people feel they can be aggressive, but also be selective. It’s the same way as hitting.”
A lasting image from this game will be the collision at home plate when Nick Markakis lowered a shoulder into Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, who held onto the ball for the out.
“It’s a baseball play,” Showalter said. “He’s sitting there with the ball in front of the plate. People have done the same thing to Matt (Wieters). It’s a baseball play, a great play. Great relay and great throw from center field. We probably need to a little better job of reading that ball off the bat so it’s not close.
“Let’s keep in mind the challenges of what’s gone on here the last 48 hours. To come out and play a game with that intensity and knowing how much it means to the Yankees, and for our guys to play on the same level of intensity, I’m pretty proud of them. A lot of guys, at 4-1, 3-0, might have had thoughts of getting through customs in Toronto. But our guys have a lot of pride and I’m proud of them.”