Brushed back in the Bronx

The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK - The Orioles and New York Yankees, divisional foes for more than five decades, have had their legendary controversies over the years, ones that can be described in a few words.

The Jeffrey Maier injustice. The Alan Mills Strawberry punch. Frank Robinson's over-the-wall home run rob.

New York's 13-3 win at Yankee Stadium yesterday certainly wasn't an all-time classic, but it might have its own identifying catchphrase in Orioles lore.

"Kevin Millar's Cute Little Fella Beanball" game.

In the top of the seventh inning, with the Orioles trailing by seven, Yankees reliever Edwar Ramirez entered to face Millar.

His first and only pitch sailed at and over Millar's head, and plate umpire Mark Wegner immediately ejected Ramirez. It was the second pitcher ejection in two days - Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera was tossed in the eighth inning Tuesday after plunking Alex Rodriguez in the left shoulder.

The umpires - and the Orioles - assumed Ramirez's backstop-finder was delayed retaliation from the night before.

"That was as obvious as the nose on my face and yours that he did it intentionally," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Ramirez, who stressed he was simply pitching inside, said: "Kevin is a very good guy. I never try to hit Kevin. If he thinks I try to hit him, I apologize."

Millar said he was "100 percent" sure it was intentional. Seething after the game, the loquacious Millar said he wanted to hit a 400-plus-foot home run into famed Monument Park against Ramirez. Instead, Millar used his mouth as retaliation.

"I was upset they threw him out of the game because he's really good hittin'," Millar said. "He's a cute little fella. He doesn't throw that hard and doesn't have very good stuff."

Ripping an opposing player is unusual, but Millar didn't care - not after seeing a pitch "at my neck." Millar pulled no punches in his description of the 6-foot-3, 160-pound bespectacled Ramirez, who has a career 4.40 ERA in two seasons.

"I love facing him," Millar said. "He doesn't have many out pitches. He should be fortunate he is in the big leagues."

The bottom line, Millar said, is pitchers should retaliate safely.

"There just needs to be a thing of how to throw at a guy. That's all. Stay at the waist and below, part of baseball," he said. "But you don't want to mess with anybody's career."

Trembley said he didn't expect a Yankees-Orioles feud to continue when they meet again in late August at Camden Yards. Then again, he didn't expect retaliation yesterday because "I was sure in my own mind ... Cabrera didn't throw at anybody."

More important, he said, is that "the Yankees beat our butts today. They hit the heck out of the ball. That's the story of the game. Not that other stuff."

The Yankees' 11-hit attack was paced by Bobby Abreu's two homers. His first one came in the third against converted reliever Dennis Sarfate, a New York City native making his first major league start.

Sarfate (4-2) allowed just two hits in four innings but walked three batters - all of whom scored.

"You walk too many, it'll kill you," he said.

The loss ended a three-game winning streak and prevented a three-game sweep for the Orioles (51-56), who managed only two runs (one earned) against Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain (4-3). It was the first time in six games they scored fewer than five runs.

What will be remembered, though, was Millar's tirade.

"Ramirez is a cute little fella, like I said. He tries his little heart out, but it is good hittin'."

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