NEW YORK - The Orioles made it through the month of April with a 15-8 record, their best start since the 2005 season. Didn’t have their No. 1 starter, lost their closer and tied with the Yankees for the best winning percentage in the American League. Only one day without at least a share of the division lead. Six wins, one loss and one tie in eight series while compensating for injuries and testing the flexibility of their roster.
“Our team is really good,” said catcher Welington Castillo. “This is a competitive team with really good pitchers and really good players. The division is not easy. The teams that we play against have good players and good pitchers, too. We just have to compete all the time and focus game by game.”
No matter how insane they turn in the late innings.
It will be hard to top yesterday for pure crazy.
“Yeah, it was a little bit,” Castillo said. “Keep battling, battling. We tried to make pitches. We fell behind, but we’re proud that we never gave up. We continued to fight. That was the story of the game.”
Logan Verrett deserves his own space in it. He created a jam in the 10th inning and wiggled out of it, and retired the Yankees in order in the 11th to get the win.
“I saw him in spring training,” Castillo said. “He’s a strike thrower. He’s got so many weapons we can work with, and he gave us the chance to win and he held the other team.”
“Yeah, it was awesome,” said reliever Darren O’Day. “It takes a special kind of guy. He believes in himself and he came in there and made some big pitches after some exciting plays in the infield. That says a lot about who Logan is, and he’s going to help us out.”
Verrett was the fifth reliever used behind starter Wade Miley, who held the Yankees to two runs in five innings despite eight hits, five walks and 114 pitches.
“What Logan did right there, the 11th inning when he came in, bases loaded, and escaped that jam ... That team over there is hot,” Miley said. “They’re swinging the bats well and laying off of good pitches. What Logan did right there to get out of that jam, that was fun.
“That Verrett inning gave us the momentum back. It kind of knocked the air out of them a little bit and gave us the momentum to score in the top of the 11th.
Miley was in full bend-but-don’t-break mode yesterday.
“I didn’t have good command of my fastball at all,” he said. “I threw a lot of breaking balls. Welly kind of picked up early that, hey, the command of the fastball’s not there. We kind of went straight to the breaking ball early. Not really a pitch I want to hang, so I had to pick my spots where I could throw it for strikes.
“Somehow got out of it. I got two pretty key double plays and was able to wiggle my way through it again. I need to stop doing that. Eventually, it’s going to break, I imagine.”
The Yankees chose to issue an intentional walk to Manny Machado in the 11th inning with Joey Rickard on second base and two outs. Mark Trumbo stood on deck, the guy who led the majors last year with 47 home runs.
I asked manager Buck Showalter whether Trumbo’s pride is at stake in this situation.
“Not really,” he replied. “You all go in there and he’ll say, ‘Heck, I would have done the same thing.’ It’s the way it is. Some people thrive on that and take it personally and some just say, ‘Hey, it’s part of the game.’ When I walk somebody it doesn’t mean I don’t think the next guy’s not a big league hitter. You’re just picking your poison there.”
It won’t be long before Showalter is picking Zach Britton to close games again. Britton, who threw 11 pitches yesterday in a scoreless inning at Double-A Bowie, is meeting up with the team in Boston and could be activated later today. Otherwise, look for him in the bullpen Tuesday night.
“I’m not going to broadcast that,” Showalter said. “I just talked to Zach. He had a really good outing. Felt good on the mound. I think you all got the line. Eleven pitches and everything.
“See how he feels in the morning. If he feels good in the morning, he’ll catch a flight to Boston and we’ll make a decision there.”
Orioles pitchers have issued at least four walks in seven consecutive games, their longest stretch since April 2013.
Jonathan Schoop has reached base in 17 consecutive games, five short of his career high from June 18 to July 15, 2016. He’s batting .344/.368/.672 (21-for-61) during his streak.