By Eduardo Encina
The Baltimore Sun
12:49 AM EDT, April 11, 2012
The night was staged for Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to take the spotlight. And with more than 1 million viewers in his native Taiwan watching his big league debut half a world away at 7 a.m. there, Chen nearly pitched well enough to earn his first major league win against one of the deadliest lineups in baseball.
Three national TV networks in Taiwan carried the game live, but it was decided nearly two hours after Chen exited the game.
As the temperature dipped, the Orioles and Yankees played deep into the chilly Baltimore night at Camden Yards on Tuesday, with the teams trading goose eggs through the late innings of a 12-inning game.
Just 30 minutes before midnight, Yankees late-inning substitute Raul Ibanez hit a two-out, run-scoring, ground-rule double to right-center field in the 12th off Pedro Strop, who was in his second inning of relief work, that ultimately handed the Orioles a 5-4 loss. It ended a four-hour, 38-minute marathon with their second straight defeat against New York after opening the season 3-0.
After Ibanez’s hit, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera shut the door on the top of the Orioles’ order, ending the game with a strikeout of Nick Markakis.
Both teams had several opportunities, combining for a frigid 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position, with the Orioles a putrid 0-for-8.
“It's just one of those things. We had some opportunities we didn't quite cash in on offensively, but we did a lot of good things tonight, especially from the pitching department,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Wei-Yin getting us as far as he got us.”
The Orioles had their chances earlier, especially in the ninth inning, when they stranded the winning run 90 feet away with the bases loaded after Yankees reliever Cory Wade induced a pop-up off the bat of J.J. Hardy.
Chen overcame a tough start -- he allowed a solo homer to Derek Jeter on his fourth pitch of the game -- and dazzled the defending division champs for five innings, retiring 12 straight New York batters in one span. He struck out six, keeping the Yankees (2-3) off balance with an array of fastballs, sliders and changeups.
"[He] pitched well, especially after the way things started,” Showalter said. “Hopefully, it bodes well for him. You can tell one thing: He's got some toughness about him. I thought he got better as the game went on, against, obviously ,a very potent lineup. I thought he presented himself real well. I was real proud of him. A lot of things could have gotten away from him, but he handled himself well. Pretty impressive, a 26-year-old man making his debut in that environment. That was good."
But Chen’s night unraveled in a three-run Yankees sixth, with two of those runs coming after a two-out fielding error by third baseman Mark Reynolds, allowing the Yankees to tie the game at 4.
“You know, we never should have been in that situation,” Reynolds said. “Chen pitched his tail off out there, and I boot that ball. That’s a play that’s got to be made. They capitalized on it, and we really couldn’t get anything going after that. It’s very, very, very frustrating.”
Chen allowed seven hits -- three in the sixth -- over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. Just two of the four runs against him were earned.
“When Buck walked to me, I was pretty upset about myself because I didn't have command tonight,” Chen said through an interpreter. “I didn't help the team get a win tonight. This is the reason I'm here, to help the team get a win. I'm not satisfied.”
Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom, who got the final out in the sixth, averted disaster in the seventh. After Nick Swisher was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Robinson Cano chopped a ball down the left-field line for a double, but Hardy’s perfect relay throw nabbed Swisher at the plate.
Lindstrom then caught Alex Rodriguez looking at a full-count sinker and struck out Teixeira on a 96 mph fastball.
Luis Ayala, Jim Johnson and Troy Patton followed with scoreless frames -- part of 5 1/3 scoreless innings thrown by the Orioles' bullpen before Strop gave up the winning run in the 12th.
On the chilliest night of the young season in Baltimore, the Orioles scored off wild pitches by Yankees starter Freddy Garcia. The usually steady Garcia struggled gripping his breaking ball, throwing five wild pitches on the night, tied for fourth most in one game since 1918. Garcia threw just four wild pitches all last season.
After Jeter’s first-inning homer, Hardy tied the game in the first with a solo homer -- marking the fifth time in as many games this season that the Orioles have hit a home run in the first or second inning. After a walk by Markakis and a single by Matt Wieters, Garcia uncoiled two wild pitches with Nick Johnson at the plate, the second one plating Markakis for a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, after a double by Adam Jones, Garcia threw another wild pitch that put Jones at third. Two batters later, Jones scored on a groundout by Johnson to make it 3-1.
Ahead 3-1, Chen allowed back-to-back singles in the fifth inning, but Reynolds made a nice diving play at third base to rob Jeter of a hit and Swisher flied out to deep center to end the threat.
Robert Andino’s ground-rule double to open the fifth led to another run after another wild pitch by Garcia to make it 4-1.
New York Yankees starter Freddy Garcia's five wild pitches against the Orioles on Tuesday night are tied for the fourth-most in a regular-season game since 1918.
Six wild pitches
Bill Gullickson, Montreal, April 10, 1982
Phil Niekro, Atlanta, Aug. 4, 1979
J.R. Richard, Houston, April 10, 1979
Five wild pitches
Ken Howell, Philadelphia, April 5, 1989
Jack Morris, Detroit, Aug. 3, 1987
Larry Cheney, Brooklyn Robins, July 19, 1918
Freddy Garcia, New York Yankees, April 10, 2012
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun