Tony Alberto arrived late for what was shaping up to be an ignominious day in Orioles history, with Tampa Bay Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek and Ryan Yarbrough spinning a combined perfect game.
But he had to let his son, Hanser, know he made it.
So he and his two traveling companions shouted and waved at the Orioles’ third baseman when he walked to the mound for a pitching change in the eighth inning, and Alberto waved back.
Had the Orioles actually been on the wrong end of a perfect game, such a moment could have illustrated just how far their heads were from the task at hand.
Instead, with the three fans in Section 33 wearing customized “Alberto 57” jerseys chanting “Let’s go, Hanser!” as he came up to bat to open the ninth inning, Alberto singled against the shift to keep the Orioles out of the history books as the opponents in the first combined perfect game in baseball history.
“They came in the eighth inning,” Alberto said, somewhat incredulously. “He just came from the Dominican. That was nice that he saw me break the no-no.”
Baltimore Orioles Insider
The elder Alberto, a radio broadcaster in the Dominican Republic, got picked up after landing in New York at around 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The trip wasn’t without its hitches, as the driver got a speeding ticket on the way, but they arrived in time to celebrate one of the few things worth cheering for on the Orioles’ side Sunday.
Alberto said he was tired of getting jammed all game and grounding out to the left side, with the Rays employing a heavy infield shift toward third base for him.
“I was looking the other way since my first at-bat, because they shift me,” Alberto said. "That’s an easy hit, but he [Yarbrough] was pitching really good. He was pitching pretty good and trying to get into our mind a little bit.
“Finally, I got something in the middle so I hit it there.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that as tension mounted in the ninth inning, he at least knew Alberto wouldn't go down looking against the left-hander Yarbrough.
"You know Alberto’s going to swing," he said. "He’s usually going to swing early, so I knew, everybody knows that if something’s out over the plate for him, he’s got a chance to put a good swing on it. Gave him a strike early, and got one on the right side.”
Alberto is hitting .398 (47-for-118) against left-handers, second-best in the majors.