NEW YORK - The Orioles had won 16 straight extra-inning games. They were 76-0 when leading after the seventh inning, including two playoff wins.
Two streaks ended in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
“It’s a tough loss, but we play again tomorrow and there’s nothing this team is prepared more for than getting ready to go the next day after a tough loss,” said catcher Matt Wieters, who was behind the plate when Raul Ibanez homered in the ninth and 12th innings.
“They were both fastballs,” Wieters said. “You’ve got a situation with Jim where you just go after a guy and more times than not you’re going to get a ground ball with him. You’ve got to give credit to Ibanez. He put two good swings on pitches, and on a night where the offenses hadn’t done much, he comes off the bench and looks ready to go.
“You never picture anything like that happening, but you’ve got to tip your hat to Ibanez because you’ve still got to hit them. It’s a tough situation and I’ll still take our guys out there on the mound every time against them.”
Wieters never considered having Matusz pitch around Ibanez and put the potential winning run on base.
“I have faith and confidence in all of our staff,” Wieters said. “You’ve got to go after them right there and get the lead guy out. That’s what we’ve been doing so well all year, we’ve been getting the lead guy out in an inning and go from there.”
Matusz retired the Yankees in order in the 11th before Ibanez jumped on a heater to become the first player in history to homer twice in a postseason game he didn’t start.
“We just called fastball away and I just left the pitch up,” Matusz said. “Ibanez has obviously been swinging the bat well and I just missed my location and he made it hurt.
“You just keep going. You clear today. Just clear it of our minds and move on to tomorrow. We’re still in this. Let’s keep fighting and play good baseball. We’ve all worked so hard this year to get to this point and we can’t let one bad pitch or one game ruin it. Just got to move forward and stay positive.
“I made a bad pitch. A lot going through my mind. Just like I said, move past it, move forward to tomorrow. The game means a lot more in the postseason, but when it comes down to it, being on the mound you’ve still got to make pitches. It’s still the same game. You can’t treat anything differently.
“You never want to experience a situation like that. Whether it’s a game-winning walk-off home run or in the first inning. The ultimate goal is to go out there and throw strikes and put up zeros. It’s not a good feeling, but you have to stay positive and move forward.”
Matusz could sympathize with Johnson, who took the loss in Game 1 and blew the save tonight.
“All of us have all the trust in the world in Jim,” Matusz said. “He’s been there for us all year and sometimes you just make bad pitches. It happens and like I said, you just clear it and move on.”
Johnson wanted to keep the ball down to Ibanez and didn’t locate.
“If you make your pitch, it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. Ibanez, he’s a good low ball hitter and obviously he has that hook swing. It’s just pitching. You’ve got to pitch down, change speeds and locate. The home runs were pretty much over the plate.
“I feel like it’s just location. I feel the same I’ve felt the 162 games before that. It’s just one of those things that just happens. And like everything that happens, it gets magnified in the playoffs.”
Asked if the Orioles can bounce back from this loss, Johnson replied, “We’ve been doing it all year. It’s unfortunate, obviously, the way things ended up. You have to just come back tomorrow. And you trust the guy in the locker next you and the guys that put the uniform on. We all have each other’s back. At no point did I get the sense we were out of the game even after I gave up the home run. You have to give yourself a chance and keep grinding it and hopefully somebody picks you up.”
“What do you want me to do, cry about it?” said Adam Jones. “(Ibanez) has been the trump card all year. Him and (Eric) Chavez. You look at the numbers collectively and those guys kept them afloat. Ibanez has been swinging the bat good, so tip your cap to him.
“It’s pretty much win or go home tomorrow, isn’t it? There’s pretty much no turning back. We’re going to have the same attitude, the same mentality we’ve had since the first day of spring training. We’re going to have fun, let it fly and live with the results.”
The Orioles were shocked to see Ibanez on deck for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth.
“That caught me off-guard, pinch-hitting for a guy who’s half a billionaire. I guess they pushed the right button today,” Jones said. “It was the right move for them. I’d rather see A-Rod hitting. It doesn’t matter who we face. We have confidence in our closer to go out and get them out. Didn’t happen. Jim came back out there and got the next inning. That part might be overlooked because it wasn’t a save. He stuck with it and gave us another inning to get some runs.”
Jones didn’t break back immediately on Derek Jeter’s fly ball in the third, and it fell for an RBI triple.
“I’m not satisfied that I didn’t catch the ball,” he said. “To make an excuse for that would definitely not be me. I point-blank missed the ball. I don’t know what happened. I thought it was where it was going to be and thought wrong at that time. It cost us a run.”
Miguel Gonzalez turned in a brilliant outing, only to sit in the dugout and watch Ibanez decide the outcome.
“It breaks your heart, but we’ve been doing great,” Gonzalez said. “Can’t complain. The guys have been battling all year. But things happen. It’s part of baseball.
“We did a pretty good job. At the end, a couple pitches were down the middle against Ibanez. That’s where he hits the ball and both of those pitches he got. Just forget about this one and go tomorrow and get them tomorrow.
“It’s probably going to be tough, but we’ve been battling all year, so we’re not going to worry about that right now and just come out tomorrow. Our guys are going to come out and do what they have to do.
“(Manny) Machado did a great job to put it over the fence, but right now I’m just out of words. It was a tough, tough game for us.”
It’s going to get tougher Thursday night.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” said reliever Darren O’Day. “What was it, Friday night? You either win or you go home. That’s the mindset we’ve got to take these next two games.”