For Kevin Brown, it was a question of being matched against the right team at the right time. And it's a good thing for the Orioles, because they can't expect to win many games when their hitters go 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
They managed a victory against the New York Yankees yesterday only because of Brown, who got a very big assist from Jesse Orosco. It was Brown's domination of the Yankees' lineup that kept the Orioles in this one, and it probably could have been expected.
Although he hadn't beaten them since Sept. 8, 1993, Brown has more career wins against the Yankees (12) than any other team. Not only that, but among pitchers with at least 10 wins, Brown has the highest winning percentage against the Yankees than anybody in history.
Go figure it. A right-hander against a predominantly left-handed-hitting team that plays in a left-handed friendly park -- and Brown's .800 success ratio (12-3) is the best ever. The two closest to him are a few generations removed -- both left-handers and one a real shocker.
Dickie Kerr, who had 53 wins in a four-year career, was 14-4 against the Yankees between 1919 and 1925 while pitching for the scandal-ridden Chicago White Sox.
The third-best record (17-5) belongs to a local boy who made good and whose 100th birthday is being celebrated this year. Guy named Babe Ruth, who pitched three full years and parts of three others with the Boston Red Sox between 1914 and 1919.
Brown didn't remind anybody of The Babe yesterday, but he did bring back some memories of the early part of this season.
"That's as good as he's thrown since he had that great stretch earlier," said pitching coach Mike Flanagan, referring to Brown's five starts in May that produced a 3-2 record and 2.93 ERA. "That's the way we'd like to see him throw."
The former Texas Ranger has pitched better than his 8-9 record might suggest, but he has been involved in a lot of games where something always seemed to go haywire. Yesterday very easily could have been another one of those experiences.
After Bobby Bonilla's double in the first inning, the Orioles failed to hit safely on 13 straight attempts with runners in scoring position.
They survived because Brown allowed the Yankees to get only (( two runners into scoring position through the first eight innings, when he faced one over the minimum of 24 batters.
It wasn't until the ninth that the Yankees managed more than one runner in the same inning. When they loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, it remained for Orosco to get Paul O'Neill to ground into a double play to preserve the shutout -- and the win.
It was an impressive performance by Brown against a team competing for a playoff spot -- and undoubtedly will give the Orioles something to think about as they contemplate next year.