Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By DAN CONNOLLY The Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — For the second consecutive night, Baltimore Orioles fans streamed into Camden Yards wearing their orange, twirling their “BUCKle Up” towels and surviving a first-pitch rain delay in hopes their Orioles could beat the bullies of the American League East.
Baltimore Orioles' Nate McLouth, left, Endy Chavez (27) and Adam Jones celebrate winning Game 2 of the American League division baseball series against the New York Yankees on Monday.
The Associated Press
New York Yankees' Derek Jeter watches from the dugout in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the American League division series Monday. The Orioles won, 3-2.
The Associated Press
It wasn’t easy; they had to overcome fielding and base-running errors, a solid performance by Oriole-killer Andy Pettitte and a wild play at the plate in the first inning.
But, if nothing else, these surprising Orioles have shown resilience all season. And they did it again Monday, rebounding from a ninth inning implosion the night before to slip past the New York Yankees, 3-2, to even up the American League Division Series at 1-1.
It was the Orioles’ first home playoff win since Oct. 8, 1997, Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians.
Now the Orioles head to Yankee Stadium needing to win two of three to advance to the ALCS for the first time in 15 years. It will be the club’s second playoff series in New York. The first was the infamous 1996 ALCS in which 12-year-old Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier interfered with a potential fly out that turned into a decisive Derek Jeter homer in Game 1. Pettitte started that game, too.
Playing Monday in front of a frenzied announced crowd of 48,817 – the largest of the season, eclipsing Sunday’s attendance – the Orioles had to wait out a 40-minute rain delay before the first pitch. Then they had to figure out a way to beat the division-winning Yankees, who had won seven of 10 at Camden Yards this year.
They did it with clutch hits – a two-run single by Chris Davis in the third and a RBI single by Mark Reynolds in the sixth – and more strong pitching, led by starter Wei-Yin Chen and relievers Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz. The bullpen pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings and Jim Johnson, who was touched up in the ninth Sunday, picked up his first post-season save.
The Orioles improved to 76-0 this year when leading after the end of the seventh inning, and they’re now 30-9 in one-run games.
The Orioles didn’t exactly have an advantage on paper in the pitching matchup, sending Chen, the 27-year-old Taiwanese rookie, to the mound. Chen, who hadn’t won since Aug. 19, had pitched in 10 post-season games in Japan (2-5, 3.39 ERA), but never in the United States. He also had a 5.25 ERA against the Yankees in four starts this season.
Meanwhile, the Yankees countered with 40-year-old Pettitte, baseball’s all-time leader in post-season starts (43), wins (19) and innings (300). Throw in the fact that Pettitte entered Monday with 27 career wins versus the Orioles – the second most, behind only Yankees’ Hall of Famer Whitey Ford’s 30 – and Monday’s matchup looked like it could be a mismatch.
Chen allowed just two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings while throwing a career high 112 pitches. Much better on extra rest, Chen hadn’t started since last Monday. And the needed layoff showed. He now has a 2.10 ERA in five outings this season in which he has six or more days in between starts.
The first half of the first inning for Chen and the Orioles, though, couldn’t have been crazier.
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