The first indicator that it might not be Jeremy Guthrie's night came on his first pitch, a fastball that drilled Derek Jeter in the left elbow and gave New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi another opportunity to gripe about the Orioles starter's propensity to hit his batters.
Guthrie said he wanted the pitch to be inside, but not far enough inside that it would put Jeter on first base. But not many of the 108 pitches that Guthrie threw Saturday night wound up where he wanted them.
In his worst start in more than two months, Guthrie was rocked for six earned runs in five innings, and CC Sabathia became a 20-game winner for the first time in his career in the Yankees' 11-3 romp over the Orioles in front of an announced 48,775 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles (58-90) had beaten Sabathia 11 days earlier, ending his 21-game home unbeaten streak and marring his first shot at his 20th victory. But Sabathia, getting plenty of backing from the Yankees' offense, mostly cruised, allowing three runs over seven innings in becoming the major leagues' first 20-game winner.
"We spoiled it once, but against a pitcher of his caliber, it's tough to do it twice," said Nolan Reimold, who went 2-for-4 but mishandled two balls in left field. "He pitched a good game. He threw the ball well. Hats off to him. He got his 20th win."
The second-largest crowd at Oriole Park this season and the first sellout crowd since Opening Day didn't have to wait -- or fret, in the case of the outnumbered Orioles fans -- over any late-game heroics as they did Friday, when Alex Rodriguez's three-run homer off Koji Uehara pushed the Yankees to the come-from-behind win.
The Yankees jumped on Guthrie for two runs in the first inning and kept tacking on runs, with the final blow being delivered by Curtis Granderson, who connected for a three-run homer off Rick VandenHurk in the top of the ninth. The Orioles, who have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 1-3, will attempt to avoid the three-game sweep today. They also assured themselves a 90-loss season for the fifth straight year.
"My command wasn't great," said Guthrie, who had his shortest start since July 8, his final one before the All-Star break. The six runs he allowed tied a season high. "That was evident from the first pitch on. I didn't throw the ball very often where I was trying to. My most commanded pitch was the curveball, ironically, the one that I typically throw the least. The deep counts were the case of me not being able to throw the ball where I need to throw it early in the count."
There was no further incident after Guthrie hit Jeter, though Girardi again voiced his displeasure with the Orioles starter. Guthrie has hit 37 batters in his career and 10 of them have been Yankees, a team he has faced 15 times. That does not include the spring training game in which Guthrie hit Mark Teixeira and Francisco Cervelli, prompting Girardi to yell at him from the Yankees' dugout.
In comparison, he has faced the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox 15 times each and hit one batter of each of those teams. The team whose batters Guthrie has hit the second most is the Chicago White Sox, who have been plunked five times by the right-hander in 10 games.
"Too many, just too many," Girardi said when asked about Guthrie hitting Yankees. "I don't really understand it. I know he likes to pitch inside. But it's just too many."
"He understands that he has a great pitcher over there in A.J. that his hit more guys than I have," Guthrie said. "I watch and appreciate the aggressive nature that A.J. takes in throwing to both sides of the plate, and I think I'm a similar pitcher. One of the occupational hazards when you do that is you are occasionally going to hit some guys, but you can't let that affect what you do. Hitting guys intentionally is something totally different, but pitching inside has to be part of what I do to be effective.
"The most important thing for me is to listen and take advice from my own manager, Buck Showalter, and not to worry about the other 29 managers and what they [have] to say about my pitching."
Guthrie was a former teammate of Sabathia's in Cleveland, and he has long enjoyed the opportunity to watch him pitch. The Orioles had Sabathia in trouble early, forcing him to throw 60 pitches to get through the first three innings, but they couldn't keep up with the Yankees' offense.
"That's why he's won the number of games that he has, because even though you make him work, he doesn't give in," Showalter said. "Things don't happen by accident. He has success because he works his way through."
One of the few Orioles to have success off Sabathia was Robert Andino, who, in a second straight start at third base, went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
"Not too many people get three hits off of CC," Andino said. "It's a blessing, but we came up with the 'L,' so, for me, it doesn't really matter."