The Orioles and Yankees engaged in a true pitchers' duel tonight as Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka matched each other pitch for pitch through eight scoreless innings of baseball. It wasn't until the tenth inning that the O's bats finally broke through, and the game winning RBI came from a very unlikely source.
With Hyun Soo Kim at third base (he reached base twice tonight) and no outs, Buck Showalter sent in Nolan Reimold to pinch run as the Yankees' interim manager (Joe Girardi was tossed for being a crybaby earlier) called for Andrew Miller from the bullpen. The peanut gallery gasped, "What is Buck doing!?" Sending a sold right-handed option to pinch run while allowing Pedro Alvarez to face Andrew Miller seemed insane.
As we all prepared for the strike out, Alvarez surprised us. Instead he sent a fly ball to medium center field. Reimold raced home head of the throw to score the winning run as Alvarez was mobbed at first. Great win!
Gausman's Great Game
Kevin Gausman was masterful tonight. He didn't strike the world out, recording just four over his eight innings of work, but the Yankees could not figure him out. He gave up only three hits and didn't walk a batter. It was a lot of fun to watch.
After retiring the first six batters he faced, Gausman gave up his first hit of the day on a ground ball off the bat of Aaron Hicks. It went up the middle and second baseman Jonathan Schoop ranged to the middle and was almost able to make a play. The next batter, Didi Gregorious, perhaps knowing how few chances they'd have against Gausman on the night, bunted on the first pitch. It went right back to Gausman, who threw out the runner at second, and then got the next two batters.
The only extra-base hit of the night came in the fourth inning when Starlin Castro doubled down the left field line. Castro moved to third on a fly ball to Adam Jones. Jones looked like he had a chance to get Castro at third but the throw was off line. Gausman didn't need the help, though. Neither Mark Teixeira nor Carlos Beltran could bring the runner in from third.
Teixeira's ground out kicked off a run of nine outs in a row by Gausman. It wasn't until Teixeira came up again in the seventh inning that another Yankee reached base. Teixeira singled to center field with one out and was promptly erased on an inning-ending double play.
Goose mowed 'em down 1-2-3 for his eighth and final innings. He finished his night with 97 pitches and a pitching line of 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. What a night.
O's Tank Against Tanaka
Unfortunately for Gausman, the rest of the Orioles, and the Orioles fans, Masahiro Tanaka was just about as good as Gausman. He's been the Yankees best pitcher this year and it showed tonight. The Orioles did have a few chances that they coudln't capitalize on.
In the third inning, Ryan Flaherty and Adam Jones singled to put runners on the corners with two outs, but the slumping Chris Davis grounded out. They put two more runners on base in the fourth thanks to Matt Wieters's second single of the game and a walk from Hyun Soo Kim, but Jonathan Schoop frustratingly grounded into an inning ending double play on the first pitch.
After that Tanaka completely shut the O's down, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. He exited the game with the score tied 0-0 and turned things over to the Yankees bullpen.
Orioles Prevail in Bullpen Battle
Darren O'Day and Zach Britton pitched for the O's out of the bullpen today and they weren't as dominating as we'd like to see. O'Day got two outs in the ninth but gave up a two-out single to Castro. With Brian McCann coming to the plate and O'Day being kind of shaky against lefties this year, Buck Showalter went to Zach Britton.
It was Britton's first game since twisting his ankle last Saturday, and he was clearly rusty. He went to a full count on McCann and allowed Castro to get to second on a wild pitch, but then Wieters caught Castro wandering off of second and picked him off to end the inning.
It looked like the O's might win the thing in the ninth inning, but the combination of a great catch by Dustin Ackley and a TOOTBLAN from Joey Rickard ruined that dream. Against Dellin Betances, Mark Trumbo worked a one-out walk and was replaced by Rickard as a pinch hitter.
Matt Wieters hit a long fly ball to right field that looked like it had a chance to get out of the park. Instead Ackely made a great catch up against the right field wall. Rickard seemed to think that the ball hit off the wall and just stood on second base looking confused as he was easily doubled up. Argh!
Britton continued to look rusty in the 10th as he walked leadoff batter McCann. Just as I started to get worried, Britton turned the corner. He struck out Teixeira, Beltran, and Ackely swining to get out of the inning.
After using Betances for the ninth inning, the Yankees had both Andrew Miller and Johnny Barbato warming in the bullpen. I don't know much about Barbato, but I knew I'd rather the Orioles faced him instead of Miller. It was Barbato who came in for the 10th. Yes!
The first batter he faced was Kim, who hit a high Baltimore Chop in the infield. He hustled to first ahead of the throw to get on base as the winning run. Next up was Jonathan Schoop, who lined a ball to left-center field for a single. Kim continued to hustle and made it all the way to third base.
That set the stage for the Alvarez vs. Miller showdown. Here are the facts: Alvarez is terrible against lefties. Andrew Miller is one of the finest lefties in the game. So far this year Alvarez hasn't played in any games with an lefty was starting, and has gone 1-for-9 against them this season. Miller had faced 8 lefties this year with one hit and five strikeouts. What I'm saying is that the odds weren't good.
Well you know what we say about that: Never tell me the odds. Alvarez didn't strike out. He sent a fly ball to the outfield, which was all he needed to do. The Orioles walked off against Andrew Miller and that's pretty satisfying.