Wilson Betemit’s three-run walk-off homer may have touched off a wild scene on the field today as the Orioles came from behind in the ninth to beat Oakland 5-2, but minutes later the Orioles clubhouse was low key and business-like, even after they had completed a 5-1 homestand with a stirring win.
Betemit was asked how he felt when he touched home plate with the first walk-off homer of his career and first by an Oriole since Nolan Reimold last Aug. 10 against Chicago.
“Feeling nice. Great. Especially to win that game, the feeling was unbelievable,” he said simply.
Bartolo Colon looked like he might be on his way to a complete-game win with a five-hit shutout through eight innings.
“I mean, Colon, he throws a ball that moves a lot away. He threw a lot of sliders. The first couple innings, nothing happened, but in the end we won the game,” Betemit said.
The Orioles finally got a rally going against Colon when they put runners on second and third with one out in the ninth on two infield hits and an error by Colon.
“He threw the ball well in the ninth, we (just) got a couple of infield hits,” Matt Wieters said. “He’s tough. He’s got a fastball that moves like not many others in the game. We saw him when he was good last year with New York.”
But Wieters batted against Grant Balfour, who came on at that point for Colon, and delivered a game-tying two-run double to left-center.
“I knew he (Balfour) had the breaking ball in his back pocket. Just tried to read it and tried to put a good swing on it to get it into the outfield to tie up the game. Was able to put a good swing on it and it found the barrel,” Wieters said.
Did Wieters sense the Orioles’ rally in the ninth could lead to a comeback win as they have pulled out some games this year in the late innings?
“That’s a product of our pitching. Our starting pitching has kept us in the game and our bullpen has done a great job of keeping us close. We’ve always felt this lineup, if you keep it close, we’ll have a chance in the end,” Wieters added.
The Orioles are 14-8 after the win and now head to New York to start a 15-game stretch against the Yankees, Boston, Texas and Tampa Bay. Wieters indicated the team was not going to get too carried away with this victory.
“We are just playing each game. It’s a nice win and we’ll enjoy this one on the train, but we’ve got New York tomorow, so we’ll worry about them when we get there,” he said.
“The schedule is not easy for anybody in major league baseball. You just have to go about playing each day. This team has done a better job of any team I’ve been on before of just worrying about each game.”
O’s starting pitcher Tommy Hunter was asked what the comeback win said about this team.
“We’re good. We’re good. It’s 2-0. These guys can swing the bat. Markakis said early on in spring training, ... ‘If you guys hold them under four runs, we’ll win a lot of ballgames.’ He said that to all the pitchers. We’ll put up runs. They picked me up tonight,” Hunter said.
“Success breeds confidence. It’s fun to come in here every day. Let’s go to New York and try to win some ballgames.”
Hunter got a no-decision today despite allowing just two runs on seven hits over seven innings.
“Anytime you give your team a chance to win, you are happy with it,” Hunter said. “Bartolo pitched better today, but it comes down to that last out. I was down in the zone and it’s still a work in progress. We had a lot of good plays today. Mark (Reynolds) on that double play, Jonsesy coming in on that ball, Nolan, (Robert) Andino. It was a team win. We played unbelievable defense and hit the ball towards the end of the game.”
Hunter said Reimold faked him out in the top of the fifth when he caught a drive off the bat of Kurt Suzuki that looked like it was going over the wall for a homer. Reimold at first looked like he didn’t have the ball in his glove, but he did.
“He got me. I was actually asking for another ball. I was upset. He got me. He made the catch and we laughed about it in the dugout,” Hunter said.
The Orioles are now 2-6 when trailing this year after eight innings. Last year they went 2-85 when heading to the ninth behind. The Orioles now have 13 homers in the seventh inning or later to lead the majors. Buck Showalter is now one win away from 1,000 for his career.