The Baltimore Orioles limped into Yankee Stadium tonight, dragging their burdensome bullpen behind them. But for the price of a 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees, they were treated to a lesson on what a functional bullpen is supposed to look like.
Warmed up promptly, deployed judiciously and given to throwing strikes, three Yankees relievers shut down the Orioles for three scoreless innings in relief of starter David Cone.
It was the ninth straight loss for the Orioles (32-46), dropping them to 4-21 against teams in their division.
"The reason the Yankees cement things is, [their relievers] had nine guys to face and they got nine guys out," said Orioles Manager Ray Miller, who was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a call in right field. "That's how you win 2-1 ballgames."
Orioles right-hander Rocky Coppinger lasted one-third of an inning, walking two batters in the eighth inning with the Orioles trailing 2-1. Left-hander Jesse Orosco followed Coppinger, inducing an inning-ending double play from Chad Curtis.
For the second straight start, right-hander Jason Johnson (1-3) went seven strong innings against the Yankees' powerful lineup, only to come away with a loss. He gave up two runs, both in the third inning, one on a bloop single to shallow left by Bernie Williams.
"It was a heck of a performance," Miller said. "The kid's got a great future. . . . And he was flat-out [mad] when he came in here. I like to see that. He's not just happy he pitched good. He's mad because he lost. That means he's going to be a winner."
Cone (9-3), who beat Johnson and the Orioles last week in Baltimore, gave up seven hits and four walks over six innings, but stranded 10 base runners, including seven in scoring position.
From there, right-hander Ramiro Mendoza pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Left-hander Mike Stanton struck out his only batter, pinch hitter Will Clark, to end the eighth. And near-flawless closer Mariano Rivera blew away the Orioles in the ninth for his 17th save in a row and 21st in 22 chances this season.
Miller, who often has decried his inability to get ejected this season, finally got his wish in the bottom of the fifth. Derek Jeter sliced a fly ball down the right field line, and with 37,518 fans screaming at him, right fielder Albert Belle tracked it down in the corner and bobbled it as he ran into the wall before finally hanging on.
Replays indicated the ball hit the wall before Belle secured it, which would negate the catch. The umpires initially called it an out, but changed the call. Jeter wound up on second base with a double, and Miller, who argued vehemently for several minutes, wound up in the clubhouse. Bench coach Eddie Murray took over managing duties.
CAPTION: Orioles Manager Ray Miller gets the thumb -- no, it looks like the forefinger -- from first-base umpire Larry Barnett.