Over a span of 24 hours, right-hander Logan Verrett went from racing to the airport to board a flight to join the Orioles in New York to pitching the 10th and 11th innings of a tie game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
But after a rocky opening inning that Verrett survived through with a combination of grit and luck, he provided calm to a crazy series finale at Yankee Stadium with a perfect 11th inning to earn the win in his Orioles debut in a 7-4 extra-inning victory full of surprises.
After the Orioles used all their available late-inning pitchers, a 4-4 game belonged to Verrett heading into extra innings. The Yankees had already taken momentum by rallying for two runs in the ninth — thanks in part to a controversial balk call on right-hander Darren O'Day that put the eventual tying runs into scoring position.
Verrett found himself in trouble quickly after Austin Romine lifted a bloop single just inside the foul line in shallow right field, putting the winning run on base right away. Verrett then fielded a bunt by Brett Gardner to the right of the mound, looked to first but then made a panicked throw to second, where there was no play. Two batters later, the bases were loaded after a sacrifice bunt and hit batter, and Verrett was saved by J.J. Hardy's charging scoop on Starlin Castro's grounder and throw home to catcher Welington Castillo.
"I just told myself to keep making pitches," Verrett said. "The first guy got on with a perfectly placed pop fly and the next one I messed up on a bunt play. It is what it is; that's how the inning started. But you still got to pitch out of it. Those guys put the ball in play and have to find holes. It's me versus them out there and I have a pretty good defense behind me. It's easy to make pitches when that's the case."
But Verrett's shining moment under pressure was when struck out American League home run leader Aaron Judge, getting him to swing through three straight pitches to end the inning.
"I was standing on the mound there in that jam and kinda thinking, at Yankee Stadium everyone has a big moment sometime," Verrett said. "I thought to myself, 'This is my opportunity to have a big moment at Yankee Stadium and put a stamp on my Orioles debut.' I thought it was a lot of fun out there. It was a long game, but glad we came out on top."
After the Orioles scored three runs in the top of the 11th, Verrett retired the Yankees in order to end the game and earn the win.
In the process, Verrett – who was making his Orioles debut Sunday despite his familiarity with the team, he was in camp with the club in 2015 as a Rule 5 pick and returned this offseason — earned kudos from his teammates.
"It was awesome," O'Day said of Verrett's performance. "It takes a special kind of guy. He believes in himself and you know he came in there and made some big pitches after some exciting plays in the infield. That says a lot about who Logan is, and he's going to help us out."
Said starting pitcher Wade Miley: "That team over there is hot. They are swinging the bats well and laying off of good pitches. Got to get them out around the plate. That's tough what Logan did right there to get out of that jam. That's fun."
Miley pitches through wildness to give five: Miley's outing Sunday wasn't his best of the season, and even though there were times when the left-hander battled his control, he was able to overcome it — as he has for most of the year.
Miley stranded nine base runners on the day, overcoming five walks and eight hits to hold New York to two runs over five innings. He benefited from two double-play balls that limited damage.
"We kind of went straight to breaking ball early," Miley said about his bend-but-don't-break outing. "Not really a pitch I want to hang, so had to pick my spots working through it for strikes. Somehow got out of it. I got two pretty key double plays and was able to wriggle my way out of it again. I need to stop doing that. Eventually it's going to break, I imagine."
There were times over Miley's outing when he was dangerously close to trouble. He pulled a tremendous escape act in the second, striking out the side after placing runners at second and third. After allowing a single by Didi Gregorius and double by Chris Carter, Miley struck out the next three batters — Kyle Higashioka,Gardner and Aaron Hicks — all swinging, by working both sides of the plate.
After allowing a solo homer to Matt Holliday in the first — a hit that would have been more damaging had he not induced a double-play ball from Hicks just before — Miley allowed a run in the third but prevented further damage by leaving the bases loaded, striking out Carter and inducing a popup from Higashioka.
Miley had issued five or more walks in three of his starts this season, but still has a 2.32 ERA
"They had a chance to open some things up and Wade didn't let it happen," Showalter said. "That will not go forgotten. He didn't implode and let the game get away from him. They kind of let us hang around there and our guys got back in it."
Schoop having hit parade: After his RBI double gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead in the sixth, Jonathan Schoop extended his on-base streak to 17 games, his second longest on-base streak of his career (22 games from last June 18 to July 15).
Schoop is hitting .344/.368/.672 with 10 extra-base hits (five homers and five doubles) and 15 RBIs over that stretch.
Schoop, who opened the season hitting just .105 over his first six games, now is tied for the team lead in homers (five with Trey Mancini) and leads the club with 16 RBIs.
Gentry takes advantage of late opportunity: Right fielder Craig Gentry, a late addition to the lineup card when first baseman Chris Davis was scratched (sore right shoulder) and Mancini moved to first, made his value known right away.
He nearly manufactured the Orioles' first run on his own, hitting a one-out single in the second, stealing second on the first pitch to Hardy, then scoring on an RBI single by Adam Jones, who had three hits.
Gentry stole another base in the eighth after walking. He is 3-for-3 on steal attempts this season. The Orioles' stolen-base leader last season, Joey Rickard, only had four all season.