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Orioles thoughts and observations: pitching vs. Yankees, 2012 comparisons and Showalter's retort

The New York Yankees typically are known as a patient team at the plate, one that works counts and fouls off pitches to extend opponents’ pitch counts.

Not so in the Orioles’ 3-2, walk-off win in 10 innings Friday night at Camden Yards.

Make no mistake: These aren’t the Bronx Bombers of old. Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson don’t necessarily strike the same fear into opposing pitchers as the sluggers who used to be in the Yankees' lineup.

Even veterans known to work counts, such as former Oriole Brian Roberts and Ichiro Suzuki, seemed to be more swing-happy at Camden Yards on Friday night.

The Yankees took a lead on that aggressiveness, with Roberts hitting a solo homer on the first pitch of his at-bat and Johnson following with another on the second.

But in the late innings, the Yankees didn’t help themselves. Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez entered the eighth at 101 pitches but needed just five more to retire the Yankees in order. He got Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury out on the first pitch of their at-bats.

Despite allowing two base runners in the ninth, including one on a four-pitch walk, closer Zach Britton tossed a scoreless ninth on 16 pitches. Left-hander T.J. McFarland retired Brett Gardner on the first pitch and Jeter on the second in the 10th, and needed just nine pitches for a scoreless frame.

For as much criticism as the Orioles get for their impatience at the plate, the Yankees found a way to be even more impatient.

“They were pretty aggressive,” McFarland said. “They were swinging at the first pitch. They were swinging at the second pitch. I know when I faced them earlier this year, it was kind of the same thing. Me being a sinkerballer, I enjoyed it. If you throw a sinker down in the zone, you can get a ground ball. Anytime hitters are aggressive like that, you have to make sure to make a pitch, because if you don’t, they’re going to hit.”

-- I know it’s too early to make this comparison, but after the Orioles’ seventh walk-off win of the season, it sure is starting to look a lot like 2012 again.

The Orioles are 9-3 in extra-inning games and 6-2 at home. Dating to the 2012 season, they are 33-12 in extras. They’ve also won their past four extra-inning games.

And there seems to be a different hero every night. In 2012, you had Taylor Teagarden getting walk-off hits. Now guys such as Hundley are sprinkling in their own form of "Orioles Magic."

"When you look at the history with Nick, he can contribute offensively,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It's hard to sit around for a couple days. That's why we're trying to keep both [him and Caleb Joseph] engaged. We're going to need them both. We're fortunate with Matt [Wieters] out to have, really, four guys we can use up here.”

If the Orioles keep coming up big late in games, the comparisons to 2012 will continue, but this year’s team is actually in a better place.

After 91 games, the Orioles (51-41) are 10 games above .500. In 2012, they were only three games over .500, at 47-44.

How’s that for a comparison.

-- Showalter didn’t hesitate to show he’s still a little prickly over Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s accusation that Steve Pearce made a "malicious" slide as Johnson attempted a double play in the Orioles' series finale in New York last month.

When Showalter was asked after Friday's game, in which Pearce and Johnson were hit by pitches, whether there was any carryover from that game, Showalter's tone changed.

“Did he get called out for that?” Showalter asked.

“I think he did,” the reporter answered.

“No, did they call a double play on that [slide]? For being out of [the baseline]?”

“I think they did.”

“No, they didn’t,” Showalter shot back, ending the conversation and immediately asking for the next question.

Definitely no love lost there.

eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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