For 14 innings on a chilly Friday night, the Orioles and Yankees traded missed opportunities and denied each other in more spectacular fashion with each passing frame. As the hearty crowd in the Bronx grew restless, it took one of the city’s own, New York-raised slugger Pedro Álvarez, to send them home disappointed.
In the 14th inning, more than five hours after the game began, Álvarez broke a 3-3 deadlock with a grand slam to help the Orioles to a 7-3 win over the New York Yankees. With the blast, his first of the season, Álvarez helped the Orioles improve to 3-5 and turned what was always looming as a crushing loss in a season that’s already seen its fair share into something quite the opposite.
“It seems to always have a lot of drama here,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “So, you deal with it. That's the roller coaster you're on during the season.”
By the time Showalter summoned Álvarez to bat for designated hitter Danny Valencia in the 10th, the game already had a half-dozen moments that might have ended it, including a call on the field in a sixth-inning rundown that the umpires later admitted was wrong. And with the state the Orioles bullpen was in, Showalter wouldn’t have truly thought Álvarez, who was raised across the Harlem River in Washington Heights, would get to the plate three times.
But he did, and just like the innings that preceded Álvarez’s arrival, the game could have turned any number of times before the man they call “El Toro” took it by the horns and did it himself. Each moment was more tense than the last, aided on by an announced 34,244 fans in the Bronx.
“It was a good game,” Álvarez said. “Sometimes, it just takes one pitch. Obviously, that was the case today.”
The way the Orioles jumped to a 1-0 lead — a Manny Machado home run in the first — wasn't exactly tense. It got out in a hurry, and was thrown back onto the field from the second level of the left-field seats just as quickly.
But from the very first pitch Kevin Gausman threw — and it took him four before one was a strike — Friday felt like anything but April. The Yankees only managed one run in that first inning, despite Gausman hitting Aaron Judge with a fastball and spending most of the inning with two runners on.
He settled down, and despite another blast from Machado and the season's first from slumping first baseman Chris Davis, the Orioles didn't threaten much.
Gausman, too, gave back a second lead but settled in to pitch into the sixth inning, allowing two runs. After he allowed a single to start that inning, Richard Bleier relieved him. Then things got really weird. Bleier ended up putting another runner on, and there was a man on first and third with one out when things got complicated.
Bleier got a dribbler toward third base from Neil Walker, and with Giancarlo Stanton running home, he started a rundown that saw Stanton run back toward the bag with a runner already on it. He ran past the base, and catcher Caleb Joseph tagged him out, but the Orioles lobbied unsuccessfully for two outs instead of one. Major league rules stipulate that two outs can be recorded if a runner does that, but the umpires didn't grant Showalter's wish.
After the game, crew chief Jerry Meals said Stanton was incorrectly determined to have run out of the base paths and called out, and a double play should have been granted. It didn't matter in the end, as Bleier got out of the inning with a grounder to third base.
The home half of the seventh inning was similarly uneasy once Bleier walked Brett Gardner and ceded, still up 3-2 to Miguel Castro. Castro got Judge to whiff on a slider to sit the Bronx crowd down once again.
But after another feeble top half of an inning in the eighth, Castro made one mistake that set the game on a different path. Didi Gregorius turned on a ball low and inside and yanked it onto the short porch in right field for a game-tying home run.
Castro got it to the ninth inning still tied, and the Yankees (4-4) brought in closer Aroldis Chapman. As is his wont, he was effectively wild, walking two but striking out two — and receiving two mound visits for an apparent physical problem — to put the game in his hitters' hands.
But Castro set them down again, and extra innings began as temperatures began to drop in New York.
The Orioles had their first of many chances in the 10th off reliever Chad Green, who walked Machado to lead off the inning and allowed a two-out single to Álvarez but fanned Colby Rasmus to get his team back into the dugout.
That brought on Mychal Givens — who had allowed a run in his two previous appearances and threw 26 pitches Thursday — in for the 10th. He broke that form and blew away the top of the Yankees lineup, striking out Gardner, Judge and Gary Sánchez.
His teammates went down in order in the top of the 11th, but the Yankees didn't oblige him with another clean inning.
Givens walked Gregorius to start the inning, and he promptly stole second base. Sánchez grounded out, and the Orioles used their free base to set up a double play with an automatic intentional walk to Walker. Two pitches later, Givens got the ground ball he wanted, but Ronald Torreyes beat the throw to first base and the inning continued with Gregorius on third. He wouldn't stay there long.
After going ahead 0-2, Givens yanked a slider to the backstop, and Gregorius broke for home. The shortstop-turned-reliever followed, and when Joseph tracked the ball down, he tossed it to Givens, who slid into home like a base runner and blocked Gregorius from getting to the plate.
Replay review confirmed it was a legal play, and that Gregorius was out, so the game proceeded to the 12th.
The Orioles loaded the bases on singles by Machado and center fielder Adam Jones, plus a well-earned walk by Álvarez against left-hander Chasen Shreve. But Rasmus struck out again to end the threat and bring in Rule 5 draft pick Pedro Araujo (1-1) for the last of the 12th.
The previous time he pitched, Araujo and fellow Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes Jr. oversaw a collapse in Houston. The Astros posted a five-run inning on them in a 10-6 loss Tuesday, and neither has been seen since. Four of the runs that day were Araujo's.
So of course, he retired six of the seven batters he faced against the Yankees.
“To see him kind of bounce back in our time of need was impressive,” Showalter said.
“I feel very happy,” Araujo said through translator Ramón Alarcón after earning his first career win. “I think there is some trust there. So I feel very happy about the opportunity. And, again, I’m thankful for the support I’ve been receiving from my teammates.”
The Orioles' half of the 13th inning featured a home-run-robbing catch by Judge of Joseph — the last moment the Yankees faithful would truly be able to go wild about — but the fatal blow was soon to follow. An inning later, Trey Mancini walked, Machado singled to give him four hits on the day and a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Schoop led to him reaching on an error. Jones struck out looking at a borderline pitch, but Álvarez left no doubt with his first home run of the season.
“Just looking for a pitch up that I can drive, and at least get a ball deep enough to get a sac fly or something,” Álvarez said. “Obviously, they're trying to get a double play. I'm trying to see something more up, and put a good swing on it.”
Brad Brach retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to seal it, giving the Orioles their first consecutive wins of 2018.