The Orioles could have been talking about another strong outing from rookie left-hander Zach Britton, another comeback off future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera and a string of successful relief outings that held the New York Yankees' offense to just one unearned run over the first 14 innings.
Instead, a sullen post-game clubhouse and clearly agitated Orioles manager Buck Showalter were left to digest their latest loss to the Yankees, a 4-1 defeat in 15 innings in front of what remained of an announced 20.589 who witnessed the longest game at Camden Yards in almost eight years.
Robinson Cano broke the tie when he ripped Michael Gonzalez's first pitch into right-center field, scoring two runs. Three pitches later, Gonzalez, who was the final Orioles reliever available, hit Chris Dickerson in the helmet with an errant fastball, drawing an immediate ejection from plate umpire Dan Bellino and forcing the club to use starter Jeremy Guthrie to get the final three outs of the 15th.
Guthrie had been scheduled to start Thursday's series finale, but the Orioles will likely have to give the ball to Brad Bergesen, who would be starting on the normal four days' rest. That was the final insult on a night when the Orioles (19-22) lost to the Yankees (22-19) for the fifth time in five games this season and for the 29th time in the past 36 matchups between the clubs.
"Fifteen innings, to go out there and grind the way they did. I mean, it pretty much breaks my heart that I went out there and that's how we finished up," said Gonzalez, who inherited two base runners from Jeremy Accardo (2-1) and didn't get an out before he was ejected.
Dickerson was taken to the University of Maryland to get a CT scan after the game. Gonzalez stayed on the field for several moments to check on Dickerson before he walked off to a chorus of boos.
The bullpen had thrown seven scoreless innings, including two from Accardo, who dodged trouble in the 13th and 14th innings, before Cano's hit off Gonzalez.
But the Orioles felt that the game should have never gotten to that point. They left the bases loaded in the 11th and 12th innings and stranded two base runners in the 13th. Even after the Yankees scored three runs in the top of the 15th, the Orioles brought up the tying run in the bottom of the frame, but Hector Noesi, making his major league debut, retired Luke Scott on a lineout to left.
Matt Wieters' single hit Brandon Snyder, who had broken off first base but couldn't get out of the way of the ground ball, resulting in an out. J.J. Hardy then flied out to end the longest game at Camden Yards since the Orioles fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-2, in 17 innings June 27, 2003. Noesi pitched four scoreless innings, scattering eight base runners, on a night when Yankees manager Joe Girardi wanted to stay off two of his top setup men, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain, and did so by relying on the likes of Luis Ayala, Boone Logan and Noesi.
"We had our opportunities. Britton pitched great. It was an unearned run. We had a lot of people pitch well. You pitch that well, you'd like to take advantage of it," Showalter said. "I was real proud of our pitching tonight. [It's] just frustrating because we had so many opportunities there to push that run across."
The Orioles stranded 15 men and went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Their best chance to win the game came in the 11th, when a single by Felix Pie, an intentional walk to Nick Markakis and an infield single by Vladimir Guerrero loaded the bases with one out. However, lefty Logan came on and struck out Luke Scott on four pitches and Wieters swung at a 2-0 pitch and popped out to right.
In the 12th, the Orioles loaded the bases again, but Noesi got Markakis on a come-backer. In the 13th, they had men on first and second and two outs, but Noesi struck out Mark Reynolds looking.
"We battled back, and we had opportunities," Scott said. "We just didn't take advantage of them. It's definitely frustrating. Our whole pitching staff, they just did a great job for us tonight. This is real tough, real tough to swallow, especially on the offensive side. We had that many opportunities, and we just didn't get the job done."
Britton allowed one unearned run on six hits and three walks while striking out four over seven innings. He has a long, long way to go before he knows how Guthrie, the Orioles' resident hard-luck pitcher, truly feels. But in his past three starts, the Orioles haven't scored a run for Britton.
Britton hasn't allowed an earned run in 19 1/3 innings, but the Orioles haven't scored one during that span either. Overall, the Orioles haven't scored in the past 22 1/3 innings in which Britton has been on the mound.
"I felt like I did OK," said Britton, who lowered his ERA to 2.14. "I kept us in the game, but we lost, so it's not a very good day."
The Yankees scored their only run on the 23-year-old lefty in the fourth inning when Alex Rodriguez reached on a leadoff single, went to second on Cano's groundout and advanced to third when second baseman Robert Andino couldn't handle Britton's tailing pick-off throw. Rodriguez scored on Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly to medium right field.
With the way the Orioles were flailing at Bartolo Colon's pitches, the one run appeared to be enough. Colon, the burly 37-year-old, certainly did his part, throwing eight scoreless innings and allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven.
The sight of Rivera jogging in from the bullpen has rarely -- if ever -- been viewed as a positive for the opposition, but when the bottom of the ninth inning dawned at Camden Yards, the Orioles couldn't have been happier to see him on the mound.
Girardi yanked Colon after 87 pitches and brought in Rivera, who allowed one-out singles to Jones and Markakis to put runners on the corners with one out. Guerrero tied the score with a sacrifice fly, finalizing Rivera's second consecutive blown save against the Orioles.
That should have been an achievement to cherish. Instead, the Orioles had so many other things to lament, none bigger than another loss to the Yankees.
"I think I speak for everyone when I say we are really frustrated after this loss tonight," Britton said. "But we're going to come back tomorrow ready to go, and hopefully get a win."