Luke Scott was the last hero for the Orioles in their 11-inning win over Toronto Monday night, but Rick VandenHurk was likely the most important.
When Brian Matusz left his start after one inning with a left triceps contusion, VandenHurk entered the contest on short notice.
It was his fourth O’s appearance, but he had pitched just one inning over the previous 17 days.
He took the mound to start the second inning and quickly looked in mid-season form for a guy trying to knock rust off. He fanned his first two hitters and retired the first 12 on his way to a 5 1/3 inning outing.
He gave up just two hits and one run in giving the Orioles their longest outing by a reliever this year.
“You try to stay as sharp as you can. I threw bullpens in between and when you get the call you just try to do the best you can.
“Obviously the game is a lot different than throwing bullpens, but opportunity called.”
The O’s acquired the right-hander on July 31st in a trade with Florida that sent Will Ohman to the Marlins.
After making his O’s debut with an inning on August 22nd, he pitched three innings four days later and another inning on September 2nd.
Then he waited for a call that took a long time, and one injury, to come.
“I was trying to throw strikes, get ahead of the hitters and then finish them off. We had some great plays, Jones and Wigginton, behind me. That made it a good night.”
VandenHurk was very efficient with his pitches throwing 55 and 39 for strikes. He is now 0-0, 2.61 in four O’s appearances with a .206 average against.
He was in line for a win before Toronto scored twice in the 8th to tie a game which eventually went to extra innings.
VandenHurk went 1-1, 2.18 in three Norfolk starts after the trade and when he got the call last night he was ready to show Buck Showalter he might be a future pitching nugget.
“It’s very important. You want to show him you can do the job.”
Tonight is Buck Showalter T-shirt Tuesday at Camden Yards. Showalter number 26 jerseys will be given out to the first 10,000 fans 15 and over.