The count reached 0-2 against flame-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman, who was perfect so far in save chances for the Yankees. Then Chapman delivered a 101 mph pitch. Wieters singled to center to score two runs and an error plated a third. It was a dramatic hit and a 3-1 comeback win for the Orioles over New York.
The Orioles handed Chapman his first blown save as Yankee after a 9-for-9 start.
“Going in there, you know he has one of the best fastballs in the game,” Wieters said. “So really trying to be short (with the swing). Really thought I was being short the first two pitches and was still way behind, so tried to get even shorter the last pitch and was able to find a hole. If you can get the barrel on it, you know he’ll supply the power to be able to get it through the infield.
“This is a big win. Gaus (Kevin Gausman) threw the ball great and he didn’t deserve to lose that game, for sure. It’s a big win because it’s a division rival. On top of it, that bullpen is pretty good. If you can get a win off that bullpen, you kind of feel like you stole one a little bit.”
Indeed, as the Orioles faced Dellin Betances and Chapman in the eighth inning and went 3-for-6 against that duo. The Orioles have trailed in four of the last five games and have won four times. They almost made it 5-for-5 last night.
“We just feel like we are playing nine innings,” Wieters said. “We don’t look at it like being behind or ahead. You’re playing 27 outs and we want to be ahead when that 27th out is recorded. Anytime you get down, it is nice to have that experience to draw from. That experience can be huge. We’ll see as the season goes on.”
Before Wieters could deliver the go-ahead hit, O’s catcher Francisco Pena singled sharply to right field off Chapman to load the bases and set the stage.
“My thought process there was put my front foot early in the ground,” Pena said of facing 100 mph fastballs. “Guy like that with electric stuff, throwing so hard, just trying to put the ball in play to be honest. Let the barrel do the job. Was great to keep the team alive.”
Pena has made two big contributions toward wins now in his first two O’s games, going 4-for-7.
“It’s big. Makes me feel good. Happy with the job I’ve done, but have to keep going.” he said. “It is great being part of a comeback team. We don’t die. We don’t die that easy.”
Pena played today in front of his father, Tony, the first base coach for the Yankees. Quite a weekend for the father and son.
“It was awesome,” Pena said. “Awesome being part of that. I know my dad is proud. I know he is not that happy that they lost, but I’ll bet he is very, very proud of me right now.”
Gausman got a no-decision, but gave the Orioles just their second quality start in the last 11 games. He gave up one run over seven innings as New York went 1-for-9 against him with runners in scoring position.
“Lot of early hits to start off innings,” he said of his day. “Knowing that CC (Sabathia) has been really good this year, you just tried to minimize the damage. Pena, me and him were on the same page the whole game. He called a great game, blocked well and really did everything well. Just wanted to give my team a chance to win. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, you give these guys an opportunity late in the game, more often than not they will put some good at-bats together.”
The win moves the Orioles (32-23) back into a first-place tie with Boston, with both teams 2 1/2 games ahead of Toronto. In winning percentage, the O’s have the edge at .582 to .579. The Orioles are 21-11 at home and 13-8 in merican League East games.
T.J. McFarland pitched two scoreless innings to get the win, his first since Oct. 3, also against New York. Zach Britton extended his scoreless innings streak to 14 1/3 and is 17-for-17 in save chances. Wieters has 16 RBIs his last 18 games and has seven RBIs his last 11 at-bats.