YANKEES 4, ORIOLES 1 (15 Innings)
For nearly five hours the Yankees and Orioles seemed to be handing victory to each other and both teams kept giving it back.
But Robinson Cano ended the nonsense in the 15th inning with a two-run double and rookie Hector Noesi pitched a “thrill-a-second” four innings of relief to win a game in his major-league debut as New York knocked off Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday, ahh, make that early Thursday morning.
The Yankees actually spoiled eight innings of shutout baseball by starter Bartolo Colon only to have the great Mariano Rivera cough up his third save chance of the season, which sent the game into six incredible extra frames in which there were 18 hits, six walks and 18 runners left on base between the two teams.
But Mark Teixeira led off the 15th inning with a single to right off losing pitcher Jeremy Accardo (2-1). Alex Rodriguez followed with his fourth single of the night into center. Orioles manager Buck Showalter brought in lefty Mike Gonzalez to face the lefty swinging Cano and Cano blasted his first offering into the gap in right-center for a double to score Teixeira and Rodriguez. An error on the play by Adam Jones allowed Cano to reach third.
Gonzalez then struck Chris Dickerson in the head with a 1-1 fastball and Dickerson was forced to leave the game for a precautionary CT scan. Home-plate umpire Dan Bellino immediately ejected Gonazlaez and Showalter was forced to use Mark Guthrie, the scheduled starter for Thursday’s game, to pitch in relief. The Yankees added another insurance run on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly to right to score Cano.
Noesi, meanwhile, kept both Yankee and Oriole fans on the edge of their seats. Noesi (1-0) gave up four hits and four walks and stranded seven runners in four eventful shutout innings. He actually started the 15th by giving up a single to Nick Markakis and he walked Brandon Snyder. But he retired Luke Scott on a soft liner to left and caught the biggest break of the game. Matt Wieters stroked a sure ground single towards right but the ball struck Snyder while he was running in the baseline and Snyder was ruled out. A pitch later, J.J. Hardy ended the four-hour and fifty-six minute marathon with a fly ball to right.
With the victory the Yankees improved their record to 22-19 and they remain two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Orioles fell to 19-22 and they trail the Rays by five games.
- If Bartolo Colon could throw a game any better, it would have had to have been a no-hitter. Over eight innings he silenced the Orioles on only three hits and one walk and he struck seven. He finished his evening by striking out the side by painting the outside corner as he did all night long. He only needed 87 pitches and 61 were strikes. That is an amazing 70 percent strike ratio. He deserved the victory and it is a shame he did not get it. This scrap-heap 37-year-old right-hander has a season ERA of 3.16, the best mark among the Yankees’ starters.
- Rodriguez continues to show improvement at the plate. He had four hits in the game and scored two of the Yankees four runs. In his last two games he is 6-for-11 (.545). That raises his season batting average to .266.
- Give Noesi credit for his “bend but don’t break” pitching. He loaded the bases after striking out his first two major-league batters and then induced Markakis to hit an easy tapper back to Noesi. In the 13th, Noesi had runners on first and second with two out and struck out Mark Reynolds looking. In the 14th inning, Noesi gave up a long fly ball to the deepest part of right-center that was caught at the wall by Dickerson. Considering the 24-year-old rookie held it together for four innings in his major-league debut is very impressive.
- Cano continues to frustrate the Orioles. He entered the game hitting .565 at Oriole Park since the beginning of the 2009 season. Showalter and the Orioles foiled his attempt to end the game in the 13th inning by walking him intentionally with Curtis Granderson at third and Teixeira at first with one out. Accardo escaped the jam by striking out Dickerson and getting Brett Gardner to ground out.
- No one can fault the great Rivera for being human. He faltered in the ninth by giving up one-out singles to both Jones and Markakis and Vladimir Guerrero stung him for a sacrifice fly to score Jones. It was Rivera’s third blown save and his second against the Orioles this season. The other was against the Blue Jays. It is not surprising that Rivera would have less success against the teams he faces the most inside the A.l. East.
- Actually the Yankee offense could only muster an unearned run off Orioles starter Zach Britton. Rodriguez led off with a single and he advanced to second on a Cano groundout and took third on an error by Robert Andino. He then scored on a Nick Swisher sacrifice fly. The Yankees had at least one base-runner in the seven innings Britton pitched. Before Cano’s hit they were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. This has been an ongoing issue all season long with the Yankees.
- Francisco Cervelli committed yet another throwing error trying to throw a base-stealer. In the eighth inning, Mark Reynolds stole second and too third when Cervelli’s throw tailed past Cano at second base and rolled into center. Colon bailed Cervelli out by striking out Andino. Cervelli has two errors in limited play and has allowed 11 steals on 13 attempts (18 percent).