The 19-minute rain delay that occurred in the middle of the Orioles' four-run seventh inning last night gave the home team plenty of chances to ponder what they were on the verge of accomplishing. They had already erased a two-run deficit against New York Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang and a sweep of their rivals - their first at home since April 2005 - was just six outs away.
The Orioles got two of the outs, but only after giving up the lead in familiar fashion. John Parrish surrendered a game-tying two runs and closer Chris Ray served up a go-ahead single to Derek Jeter. And that's how action ended last night, with the persistent rain forcing the umpires to suspend the game after a 1-hour, 25-minute delay with the Yankees leading 8-6 with two outs in the top of the eighth.
The game will be played from that point on July 27 at 7:05 p.m., when the Yankees are next scheduled to be back at Camden Yards for a three-game series. The statistics from last night's game won't be added until the game is completed that night.
"You got some guys that felt like we had the game and the way it ended isn't everybody's cup of tea, so to speak," said Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley.
It was a disappointing ending for both teams. The Yankees, who had taken the two-run lead, appeared on their way to breaking a four-game losing streak. The Orioles, who survived an erratic performance by Daniel Cabrera and rallied to take a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh, also were in a bitter mood leaving the park, especially third baseman Melvin Mora.
Mora was ejected after a verbal confrontation with third base umpire Tim Tschida after the umpire called for the tarp to be put on the field after Jeter's clutch single. The at-bat shouldn't have happened at that point, according to Mora, who had to be restrained by Trembley and bench coach Tom Trebelhorn.
'I just asked [Tschida], 'You don't think it's too wet?' And he just started yelling at me and cursing," said Mora, who said the conversation occurred before Jeter's at-bat. "I said, 'You don't have to curse at me for asking a question.' And he was upset. I said, 'This is worse than when you stopped the game when we were winning. Why aren't you going to stop it now? I can't even see the ball.'
"And he was just cursing and cursing and cursing, and I was like, 'OK, this is not good.' I was just asking a question. I said, 'I think it's getting really wet. I can't even see home plate. I can't even know where he's going to hit the ball.' He just started making Jeter hit so they can score one run and they can get out of here. That's what I think."
Ray also objected to the fact that game was not called until after the Yankees took the lead in the top of the eighth.
'I've never pitched in rain like that before," the Orioles reliever said. "I was just trying not to throw the ball to the backstop. When they called it in the seventh inning and we had something going and it wasn't raining nearly as hard, and then it's pouring down rain and we're just out there in terrible conditions.'
Trembley tried to be more diplomatic.
"Melvin was concerned that play should have been stopped sooner, that the conditions were such that it merited a stoppage in play," Trembley said. "The point that he was making I thought was a valid one. Like I said, I think there was some frustration that had built up on both sides. ... I don't think [the umpires] expected second band of rain to come. I think if they would have thought the second band of rain was coming, I don't think they would have resumed play to begin with."
When the game resumed after the first rain delay before what remained of an announced crowd of 40,737, the second largest crowd at Camden Yards this season, Brandon Fahey grounded out for the final out of the seventh, an inning that saw the Orioles erase a 4-2 deficit with four runs.
The Orioles' started their seventh-inning rally off Wang with a leadoff single by Nick Markakis. Kevin Millar lofted a fly ball to right field that Bobby Abreu misplayed and it rolled all the way to the wall. Markakis scored from first and Millar had his first triple since 2005.
Aubrey Huff couldn't get the run in, grounding out to second. But after Wang walked Melvin Mora on four pitches, Jay Gibbons, who entered the game with a .186 average and just three RBIs in June, laced a 2-1 pitch into the left-center field gap. Mora slid in to home ahead of Jeter's relay throw, giving the Orioles a 5-4 lead.
It expanded to 6-4 when Corey Patterson, who was pinch running for Gibbons, stole third and then came home when catcher Jorge Posada's throw sailed into left field.
That's when things started to get crazy.
Maintaining all along that he won't overuse some of the relievers, Trembley opted to stay away from Jamie Walker and Chad Bradford and brought on Parrish, who entered last night with a 7.88 ERA in June, to start the eighth inning.
Parrish clearly didn't have it, walking Posada and Abreu before Melky Cabrera hit an RBI double down the left-field line, cutting the Orioles lead to 6-5. Robinson Cano followed with an RBI groundout that tied the game.
That's when Trembley went to Ray, who retired Andy Phillips on a groundout before Johnny Damon prolonged the inning with an infield single. Jeter then bounced Ray's 1-2 fastball back up the middle for a two-run single.
"I didn't want to go to Bradford and Walker," Trembley said. "They pitched two nights in a row. I didn't want to do that again. The easy thing is to do that, but then I have nobody for tomorrow. I really felt like Parrish was going to come in there and throw strikes. Obviously, in hindsight, I didn't make the right call."
In his first start against the Yankees since coming within two outs of no-hitting them last September, Daniel Cabrera didn't pitch poorly, allowing four earned runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batsman in 6 1/3 innings.
He left after giving up an RBI single to Johnny Damon that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Trembley brought in Paul Shuey, who loaded the bases after Mora's throwing error and a walk to Hideki Matsui.
That brought up Alex Rodriguez, who bounced into an inning-ending double play. Shuey pumped his fist as he headed off the mound, where he was met on the top step by Trembley.