NEW YORK - Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera has lost nine times to the Orioles in his illustrious career. No other team has beaten him in more than seven games. Then again, he’s faced the Orioles more than any other team, as well.
The Orioles avoided a three-game sweep today on Adam Jones’ two-run homer off Rivera in the ninth inning, giving them a 2-1 win over the Yankees before 40,218.
The Orioles had three hits going into the ninth, all of them against starter Hiroki Kuroda. David Robertson retired the side in order in the eighth before the Orioles mounted their comeback.
“Kuroda was good,” said manager Buck Showalter. “His split. He’s just tough. Any time you’re sitting there with Robertson and Rivera, you don’t like your chances. But there was a good vibe in the dugout. The guys were grinding. And it’s tough. Very challenging conditions, as you all know, and it’s not going to change. That’s why if you can achieve things, it’s so gratifying, because it’s so hard to do.
“These are the days where you can challenge yourself to be a little different than the common athlete.”
Nick Markakis started the rally with his third hit of the day after barely missing a game-tying home run.
“This type of day you really appreciate Markakis,” Showalter said. “Not that you don’t, but it’s 150 and he’s grinding at-bats, stinging balls all over the place, keeping them from scoring on him on a sac fly. Nicky’s a baseball player, and a lot of people just don’t get what he brings to us every day.”
Jones didn’t have an extra-base hit in his last 15 games before the home run. He took out his frustrations on his batting helmet Friday night down in the tunnel, which a YES Network camera captured and replayed. The invasion of privacy still annoys Showalter.
“Were you able to see him venting the other night?” he asked. “Was that a robotic camera that followed him up the runway where they’re not supposed to go? But that’s OK. I told him after he hit the home run, ‘You know, if you’re really thinking this through, you’d take your helmet and your bat and you’d make sure that robotic camera is on you again and you’d let it rip down in the dugout again.’ I don’t think he did it.”
Jones was 2-for-10 against Rivera before today.
“That’s pretty good,” Showalter said. “I look at the matchups all the time. He ain’t the Lone Ranger. You don’t wallow around in what happened yesterday means it’s going to happen tonight.”
Jim Johnson rebounded from his blown save and loss Friday night by getting two strikeouts and a routine grounder for his 30th save.
“I’m so proud of Jimmy,” Showalter said. “I told you many times, there’s nobody here who wants the Orioles to win more than him and I’d ask him to do anything and he’d do it. It means a lot to a lot of these guys. We’ve got some guys who have been with the Orioles a long time, and it means something to them to win.”
What does a clean inning mean to Johnson?
“I’ll tell you what it means to Jimmy: He’ll close the door on it and know there’s another challenge right around the corner,” Showalter replied. “That job, Jimmy and I talk. We always talk. I understand that’s a hard, hard job and he’s one of the best in the game and he’s set a very high bar for himself. For us to get to where we want to go and for all of it to work... We’re lucky to have him. I’ve said it many times. He’s a horse.”
Jason Hammel allowed one run in five innings, but he threw 102 pitches.
“He’s a little frustrated with his fastball command,” Showalter said. “I think we gave up two extra-base hits the whole series. Two doubles. The rest of them are singles. We pitched real well here and it would have been nice to pull out more Ws than we did, but you come in here with their starting staff, you’re going to have to match them in the starting pitching part of it. I was proud of that.”
T.J. McFarland followed Hammel with two scoreless, hitless innings.
“I just found out he was sick as a dog today,” Showalter said. “Nobody told me. One of his bullpen mates said, ‘I don’t know how he even got to the mound today.’ Gave him a little better sinker, I guess.”
Manny Machado made a spectacular play deep in foul territory to throw out Luis Cruz and end the sixth inning.
“When you can shake hands with the beer man in the front row after you get through with a play, you know it’s pretty challenging,” Showalter said. “Or the Oriole fan that was there.”