Extra, extra: What a relief!

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The Orioles had to play 18 innings on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to move into a virtual tie with the Yankees for first place in the American League East. It was their 14th consecutive extra-inning victory for the O's, which equals the most by any team since the Cleveland Indians won 17 straight way back in 1949.

There's only one way that kind of thing happens, and that is with an unbelieveably effective bullpen, and Tuesday/Wednesday's game was simply a microcosm of a season of terrific relief performances.


The Orioles relievers combined to pitch 12 2/3 scoreless innings to outduel an equally determined Mariners bullpen.

Give the offense only a little credit. The Orioles were dominated by Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez into the ninth inning, but managed to scratch out a couple of runs to push the game into overtime. They finally won it – surprise, surprise – when pinch hitter Taylor Teagarden broke the tie with a soft single to right and Mark Reynolds brought home an insurance run with an RBI fielder's choice.


It was the third time that Teagarden came through with a huge hit in extra innings, even though he's batted in the low .100s for much of the time since he was called up at midseason.

"I couldn't be prouder of these guys,'' manager Buck Showalter said on the MASN postgame show. "Every night, they find a way to do something special.

Showalter again pushed a lot of big buttons, getting huge pinch hits to key the two scoring innings and managing the pen to perfection. The unsung hero of the game might be Steve Johnson, who pitched a very efficient three scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.91. Tommy Hunter was up to his eyeballs in baserunners, but followed that with two scoreless innings to get the win.  Jim Johnson finished up for his major league-leading 44th save.

What does all this mean? At the very least, it means that the Orioles don't have to wake up this afternoon and beat Felix Hernandez to win another important road series, but it sure wouldn't hurt since the Yankees will be playing a doubleheader against the struggling Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

It didn't start out to be a must-win game, but it became one as the Orioles burned up the bullpen and played deep into the night. They'll have to sleep fast, but the Mariners are in the same situation and they have to come back from a very tough loss.