BALTIMORE – It’s early May, and the Orioles have already experienced a round of American League East play, and they like what they’ve seen.
In an extraordinarily tense game, the Orioles broke a 21-inning scoreless streak by pushing a run across in the 10th inning for a 1-0 win over the New York Yankees before 19,598 at Oriole Park on Thursday night.
The Orioles have played each of their four AL East opponents, and are 9-5 against them. They’ll now play out of the division for 27 games.
With Kevin Gausman and Masahiro Tanaka both pitching magnificently, it took them leaving the game after eight innings for a run to finally come home.
Gausman finished by throwing eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out four. Tanaka gave up five hits in eight shutout innings.
“I kept telling myself in the dugout, ‘He’s not going to give in, I’m not going to give in,’” Gausman said.
“That’s just one of those good pitching performances, going back and forth. I felt like I’d sit back in the dugout and then go right back out there.”
Hyun Soo Kim started the 10th with an infield single off Johnny Barbato (1-2). Kim advanced to third on a single to left by Jonathan Schoop.
Andrew Miller came in to face Pedro Alvarez, who flied to fairly short center. Reimold beat Jacoby Ellsbury’s throw home for the winning run.
“Just try to get a ball up where I can put a good swing on it and hopefully hit it deep enough or where nobody's [and we] can score. I'm just trying to hit the ball. I'm just trying to square it up. Obviously, if I get a pitch that's up in the zone then there's more probability of the ball being in the air, that's why i was looking for a pitch up and just putting a good swing on it,” Alvarez said.
Kim, who a month ago had yet to play his first game, is now 10-for-18 in seven games. His .556 batting average is certainly unexpected, but the fun he had in setting up the win, made him ecstatic.
““It’s just indescribably great for me to win a game like that. I’m really enjoying the moment,” Kim said through his translator.
Darren O’Day started the ninth with two outs, and after Starlin Castro singled, Zach Britton who hadn’t pitched since spraining his left ankle on Saturday, came in to face Brian McCann.
On a 3-1 pitch, Britton threw a strike to McCann, and Matt Wieters fired the ball to shortstop where Manny Machado tagged Castro out to end the ninth.
“That entire at-bat I was kind of feeling like my focus was on whether or not I was going to feel (the ankle discomfort) every pitch, even though I wasn’t. And then, obviously, Matt made a huge play right there to get us back in the dugout. So I felt like that time in the dugout, sitting on the bench, I was able to come down and refocus a little bit,” Britton said.
After walking Brian McCann to start the 10th and later allowing a stolen base to pinch runner Brett Gardner, Britton (2-1) struck out the side.
This was Gausman’s third start of the season, and he’s gotten better each time.
“He was something, wasn’t he? He was solid,” manager Buck Showalter said.
While Showalter marveled at Gausman’s growth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seethed. He felt Gausman was balking, and third base umpire Chris Guccione ejected Girardi for arguing after Starlin Castro was left on third to end the top of the fourth.
Gausman, who can give the Orioles a lift if he can become a topline starter, feels that in his fourth year, he’s finally arriving.
“I think obviously my confidence is growing. I just feel a lot more confident at this level. Some guys get to the big leagues and already are comfortable. This is the first year I’ve really felt, I know what I’m doing. When I take the mound there’s no question if my stuff is going to play or not. Now, it’s more about making pitches,” Gausman said.
The Orioles (16-11) took two of three from New York (9-17).
Showalter used Reimold and Joey Rickard as pinch runners, and continues to use a three-man bench. By the time the Orioles play next, that could change.
The Orioles have been carrying 13 pitchers, and wanted to keep them all until Britton showed he was physically able to pitch.
Paul Janish, whose wife is about to deliver their third child, may be joining the team. Showalter also mentioned Jimmy Paredes as a possibility.
NOTE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series on Friday night. Rich Hill (3-3, 2.53) faces Ubaldo Jimenez (1-3, 5.20).