The bottom of the sixth inning last night started with Nick Markakis stroking a single to center field off Phil Hughes and ended seemingly an hour later with Kevin Millar swinging through a pitch from Edwar Ramirez. In between, the Orioles scored seven times, turning a tie game against the New York Yankees into a satisfying rout.
When the most productive inning of the Orioles' season was finally over, the fans who had come to Camden Yards to cheer on the home team gave it a standing ovation. And they stood again three innings later when Matt Albers struck out Derek Jeter looking to put the finishing touches on an 8-2 victory before an announced 40,653 on a beautiful April evening.
A night after coming from three runs down in the eighth to defeat the Chicago White Sox, the Orioles got a strong performance from Daniel Cabrera, who held the Yankees down long enough for his offense to get on track.
Luke Scott broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the sixth, and the Orioles (10-7) piled on from there. They sent 11 hitters to the plate and forced the Yankees (9-9) to go to their bullpen twice to get out of the inning. All seven of the Orioles' hits in the inning were singles.
"We probably took a key from Wee Willie Keeler: 'Hit them where they ain't,' " Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "They all count. There were no seeing-eye hits there. They were all on the barrel. We used the whole field to hit. You turn the lineup over, you work the count, you do what you can do. You don't try to do too much."
For the game, the Orioles had 11 hits, with everybody but leadoff man Brian Roberts reaching base. Markakis had three hits, two in the sixth inning alone. He also threw out Bobby Abreu at home trying to score on Hideki Matsui's single in the fourth.
"He's amazing," teammate Jay Payton said. "He's probably one of the best players in the game right now, if you ask me. He goes up there and has much as pop as anybody. He's got a tremendous swing. He's got a cannon for an arm in the outfield. He's a great outfielder. He's good, and he's going to be good for a long time."
The offensive outburst gave Cabrera (1-0) some well-deserved breathing room after he battled the Yankees for six-plus innings. Spotting all his pitches and not walking a batter until the sixth, Cabrera allowed just two earned runs, leaving with no outs in the seventh after surrendering a solo home run to Chad Moeller.
"I feel comfortable," Cabrera said. "What I've been working on with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] from spring training to now is working well. We're trying to keep it like that for the whole season."
Cabrera acknowledged that the key to the game was his ability to get out of a sixth-inning jam without allowing the Yankees to break a 1-1 tie. With the bases loaded and two outs, Cabrera got New York center fielder Melky Cabrera to swing through a 2-2 curveball to get out of the inning.
It was the latest example last night of the big right-hander maintaining his poise and making his pitches when he had to.
"He's passed that," Trembley said. "I think everybody here, with all due respect, you have to start giving the guy a little credit. ... He's made tremendous strides."