Before Thursday's matinee at Camden Yards, Buck Showalter said it would be a challenge for Alfredo Simon to match last week's quality start against the New York Yankees. The Orioles manager figured Simon's stuff would be fresh in the minds of baseball's highest-scoring team.
Showalter was right about Simon, but the Yankees never saw the Orioles' bullpen coming.
After Simon was removed from the game following the fourth inning, five relievers combined to pitch six no-hit innings as the Orioles beat New York, 5-4, in 10 innings. With a walk-off RBI single, second baseman Robert Andino gave the Orioles their second extra-innings win against the Yankees in as many days, but the unheralded relievers were the heroes of this one.
"They kept us in the game," said Andino, who went 2-for-5. "They gave us a chance to win."
Clay Rapada (1-0) recorded the final out in the top of the 10th inning to earn the win. Rapada combined with Jo-Jo Reyes, Jeremy Accardo, Troy Patton and Kevin Gregg to strike out eight batters and allow two base runners -- on a walk and a hit batsman -- against a New York offense that threatened to blow this one open at the seams early.
"The stress to go through that lineup that many times and not give up any runs," Showalter said, "you'd have to be real picky to say anything negative about the pitching after the fourth inning."
Most of the Orioles' pitches before then, though, are probably fair game.
Simon, who had pitched seven strong innings in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 29, gave up four earned runs on six hits and a career-high six walks in front of an announced 33,841 on Thursday. The big right-hander recorded just 12 outs in 22 batters faced, and 45 of his 88 pitches were balls.
"Obviously, Simon was having problems with the strike zone," Showalter said.
The Orioles slowly chipped away at the Yankees' early lead, overcoming 3-0 and a 4-1 deficits when they tied the score at 4 on Andino's RBI single in the eighth inning.
They squandered their first opportunity for a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. With Nick Markakis and Adam Jones on board with one out, Yankees reliever Scott Proctor retired Vladimir Guerrero and Matt Wieters to send the game into extra innings.
But they didn't let Proctor (2-4) off the hook a second time. In the 10th, Nolan Reimold -- one of five Orioles who had a multi-hit game -- reached base on an infield single and advanced to second when Chris Davis walked. Andino then stroked an 0-1 pitch past third base for the win.
"[It was] just being aggressive," Andino said. "[You] see a pitch up and just try to put a good swing on it."
Andino wasn't the only one who showed some aggression on a gloomy afternoon that was essentially a one-game homestand for the Orioles (57-85) before they packed their things back up and traveled to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays that starts Friday night.
Trailing 4-3 in the seventh inning, Markakis attempted to score from first base on a double to right-center field by Guerrero. Waved home by third base coach Willie Randolph, Markakis arrived at the plate just after second baseman Robinson Cano's relay reached catcher Francisco Cervelli, who held on to the ball for the out as Markakis bowled him over.
"To come out and play a game with that intensity and knowing how much it means to the Yankees, and for our guys to play on the same level of intensity, I'm pretty proud of them," Showalter said. "A lot of guys, at 4-1, 3-0, might have had thoughts of getting through customs in Toronto. But our guys have a lot of pride, and I'm proud of them."
Added Andino, who was thrown out curiously trying to steal third base to end the eighth inning: "We ain't just going to lay down."
It took two more plays at the plate in the eighth inning -- Mark Reynolds was thrown out after Davis' single before Davis scored the tying run -- but the Orioles got Simon off the hook.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the first, the big right-hander started to unravel in the second when he allowed three hits and walked three as the Yankees (87-55) took an early 3-0 lead.
Simon issued a leadoff walk to Alex Rodriguez, Cano singled to right field and Nick Swisher drew another walk on four pitches to load the bases. The next batter, Eric Chavez, bounced an infield single to second base to score Rodriguez. Derek Jeter singled up the middle with the bases loaded and two outs to tack on two more runs.
The Orioles got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Guerrero hammered an 0-1 pitch to left-center for his 12th home run of the season.
Simon got into another jam in the third when he gave up an infield single to Mark Teixeira and walked Swisher. He allowed a two-out single to Chavez that scored Teixeira to make it 4-1 but struck out Cervelli to escape the inning with minimal damage done.
"I'll just [try to] do better and keep working," said Simon, who was gone an inning later.
Baltimore again pulled within two runs in the fourth inning. Guerrero hit a long fly ball to center field that fell a few feet short of his second home run of the afternoon. As the ball bounced off the top of the wall, the 36-year-old designated hitter lumbered to second base for a leadoff double. He scored two plays later when Reynolds grounded out softly to second base.
Reimold chased Yankees starter Ivan Nova with a double in the sixth inning, and Davis brought Reimold home with a double off lefty Boone Logan. But as was the story all afternoon, the Orioles were unable to get more than one run across the plate in the inning. They left 12 runners on base.
Nova allowed three earned runs on five hits in 51/3 innings. The rookie righty, who is undefeated in his past 13 starts, issued three walks and recorded two strikeouts. But the Yankees relievers couldn't hold off the Orioles long enough to secure Nova's 16th win.
Meanwhile, the Orioles' bullpen kept New York off the board over the final six innings, including 21/3 from Reyes, who was moved out of the rotation after he was rocked for seven runs in his most recent start. "Just throw up zeros [and] we'll give the team a chance to win," he said.
The Yankees took the season series, 13-5, but at the least, the Orioles can feel good about winning the finale.
"Everybody knows the Yankees got a good team," Andino said. "And this was supposed to be our day off, so to come out and win, and especially to walk them off like that, it gives us good momentum going into Toronto."
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