By definition, it was the New York Yankees who were in pinstripes at Camden Yards for the Orioles’ 3-2 win in 10 innings Friday night.
Their fans, as always, were out in abundance, making up at least half of the sellout crowd. But these weren't the dominating, punch-you-in-the-gut Bronx Bombers of old.
This Yankees club was making its 2014 debut in the city with no Mariano Rivera, no CC Sabathia and no Alex Rodriguez. Its centerpiece for so many seasons, shortstop Derek Jeter, is 40 and retiring at the end of this year.
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- Orioles win in extra innings at Camden Yards [Pictures]
- Miguel Gonzalez in control through eight strong innings
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The real difference, though, was in the outcome of Friday night's nail-biter: the first-place Orioles' fifth victory in seven tries against the third-place Yankees this season.
“It's big. We've got to win series. Divisional series, home [series] are very crucial. We know that,” said Orioles catcher Nick Hundley, whose one-out single in the bottom of the 10th gave the Orioles their seventh walk-off win in 2014. “We know that [the Yankees] are a very talented team with good arms, a very solid veteran lineup. So we are going to have to play well to beat them. Fortunately, we did.”
Manny Machado led off the 10th with a double into the right-field corner against Yankees reliever Adam Warren (1-5) and scored two batters later when Hundley singled to center. The Orioles are now 9-3 in 12 extra-inning games this year and have outscored opponents 45-26 from the ninth inning on.
“I think it really speaks to the depth of our bullpen, the quality of our bullpen,” Hundley said. “Then, with the offense that we have and the staunch bullpen, it kind of lends itself to be successful, either late in the game or extra innings.”
After starter Miguel Gonzalez threw eight innings of two-run ball, Zach Britton and T.J. McFarland (3-2) combined for two scoreless innings to keep the game knotted at 2.
“Usually, it's pitching and the bullpen doing well. Zach had a big inning for us. Mac very quietly has become a real contributor for us,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, explaining his team's late-inning success. “So we've got a lot of guys who are shouldering the load, and we're able to pass it around and not tax anybody."
The Orioles (51-41) are a season-high 10 games over .500 and five games ahead of the Yankees (46-46) in the American League East.
In previous years, certainly in the 2000s, the Orioles would have lost a game like Friday's, the sides exchanging blows until the Yankees seized the momentum.
But not this year — not so far, anyway. If the Orioles win at least five of their remaining 12 games against the Yankees, they will have won a season series against New York for the first time since 1997.
Another intriguing subplot entering Friday night had been the return to Camden Yards of Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts, who spent his first 13 seasons in the majors with the Orioles.
When he came to the plate in the second inning, there was little reaction from the announced 45,389, the sixth sellout this season. There were some boos and some polite applause for Roberts, but nothing distinctive.
“I heard a little bit as I went up to hit,” Roberts said. “I'm sure there are some people that like me and some people that don't. I knew that coming in.”
Roberts, however, made that first moment back in Baltimore a memorable one.
On the first pitch he ever saw as an opposing hitter at Camden Yards, Roberts deposited Gonzalez's 92-mph fastball onto the flag court beyond the right-field wall. It was his sixth home run of the season and first against the Orioles. Heading into Friday, Roberts was 5-for-16 (.313) in five starts against his old team, all at Yankee Stadium this year.
“Home runs always feel good, no matter where you are. It's not like I want to hit a homer off of Miguel Gonzalez any more than I want to hit one off anybody else,” Roberts said. “Obviously, I've got a lot of good buddies over there. I spent a lot of time with them. It was just fun to be back here. I love this place. It was a great atmosphere. I wish we had gotten the win more than anything.”
The Yankees' first two runs of the game were solo home runs against Gonzalez, who has served up 15 in 15 starts. Yankees designated hitter Kelly Johnson made it 2-0 in the third with his sixth home run of the season.
Gonzalez was in trouble again in the fourth, but picked up two flyouts with runners on second and third to end the inning. He then retired 14 of his final 15 batters to finish the game.