Gonzalez, found by the Orioles while pitching with Mazatlan in the Mexican League, entered the season having pitched just one game above Double-A, but he has dominated the Yankees this season in their home ballpark.
Gonzalez’s eight strikeouts were the second-most by a rookie pitcher against the Yankees in a postseason start behind Brooklyn’s Don Newcombe’s 11 strikeouts in Game 1 of the 1949 World Series. He also became just the second pitcher since 1950 to record eight strikeouts and no walks against the Yankees in a postseason game, joining Cliff Lee, who did the same for the Phillies in Game 1 of the 2009 Wolrd Series.
In three games at Yankee Stadium, Gonzalez – who allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings on Wednesday – is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA. He’s held the Yankees to a .197 batting average and has 25 strikeouts and just one walk.
"Gonzalez man, he's giving us fits,” Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said. “We've faced him two or three times, and he's put it on us."
Unafraid to attack the Yankees hitters, he mixed up a variety of pitches – a four-seam and split-fingered fastball, change up, curveball and slider – to strike out eight Yankees. He held New York’s 2-3-4 hitters of Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to a combined 0-for-9 with three strikeouts.
Flaherty, a Rule 5 pick this past offseason, put the Orioles up 1-0 in the third inning by ripping a curveball from Kuroda over the right-field fence. It was the Orioles' first homer this postseason and their first in the playoffs since Eric Davis homered in Game 5 of the 1997 American League Championship Series.
Flaherty also became the first player born in Maine to hit a postseason homer.
In the bottom half of the inning, with Russell Martin on second after a one-out double, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter hit a ball to center that carried just out of the reach of Jones in center for an RBI triple that tied the game.
Jones took one step in, then retreated toward the warning track, blowing a bubble before the ball bounced just past his outstretched glove.
"I'm not satisfied that I didn't catch the ball,” Jones said. To make an excuse for that would definitely not be me. I point-blank missed the ball. I don't know what happened. I thought it was where it was going to be and thought wrong at that time. It cost us a run."
The 20-year-old Machado led off the fifth by taking an 84-mph hanging slider into the Orioles' bullpen beyond the left-center field fence to give them a 2-1 lead.
Machado, the Orioles' top position prospect heading into the season, spent most of the season at Double-A Bowie before a surprise August call-up. On Wednesday, he became the second-youngest player to hit a postseason home run and the youngest players to homer in the ALDS.
But those homers weren’t enough. The Orioles managed just five hits off Kuroda, who settled down in the late innings, retiring the final 11 Orioles hitters he faced.
The Orioles had the go-ahead run on second base in the top of the 10th against closer Rafael Soriano after Robert Andino singled and moved to second on Machado’s sac bunt. But Nate McLouth lined out to shortstop and Andino was doubled up.
The O’s were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth inning after Kuroda walked a batter and hit another.
And now, the Orioles – their backs against the wall – must show their ability to rebound once against if they want their season to continue.
"It's a tough loss,” Wieters said. “But we play again tomorrow and there's nothing this team is prepared more for than getting ready to go the next day after a tough loss."