Orioles 13, Yankees 2
The Baltimore Orioles were giving away runs and giving away outs to the New York Yankees in the early going Wednesday night, a sure recipe for disaster, even with a growing lead. And at the exact moment when the script called for the inevitable implosion -- bases loaded for the Yankees, nobody out, sixth inning -- the bullpen gate swung open and Jason Grimsley entered the game to scattered boos.
Grimsley had done nothing wrong, save for being acquired two nights earlier in a widely criticized trade with the Kansas City Royals. And by the end of his two-inning stint, Grimsley had made one miraculous escape, left the mound to a standing ovation and carried the Orioles over one giant mental hurdle.
While Grimsley was halting the Yankees' biggest threat, the Orioles' offense was taking out a month's worth of frustration on the visitors' pitching staff -- until the shocking final score was 13-2, the Orioles' first victory in eight tries this season against their rivals from the north.
"It's good to break the ice," said Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli, who spent the previous four years as Joe Torre's bench coach in New York. "It's just one game [but] it feels nice to win."
It was a night that belonged largely to the two newest Orioles. Grimsley, a 36-year-old right-hander making his Orioles debut, delivered six crucial outs, including those three in the sixth inning.
"That was the turning point," Mazzilli said.
And third baseman David Newhan, signed as a free agent last week, collected four hits, drove in three runs and was a central figure in the three pivotal innings in which the Orioles scored all their runs.
"It's good to have a little success right off the bat," said Newhan, who is hitting .563 with the Orioles. "It takes some of the pressure off and lets you settle in."
With Melvin Mora (strained foot) expected to return to the lineup Thursday night, Mazzilli will have to be creative to keep Newhan in the lineup. But he has vowed to do so.
"He's a scrappy player," Mazzilli said. "He's one of my type of players."
A crowd of 41,678 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards saw the Orioles win for just the second time in their last 10 games. An offensive attack that had been hibernating for weeks exploded with a season-high 17 hits. Shortstop Miguel Tejada drove in four runs with a single, a double and a homer.
Only in the late innings did the Orioles' lead feel safe -- and even then one had to wonder. Early leads of 3-0 and 7-1 against Yankees starter Jon Lieber (5-5) felt merely comforting, never safe. That's because the Orioles kept making the kind of mistakes that are rarely overcome against the Yankees.
For example, the Orioles nearly managed to get thrown out for the cycle -- running into outs at third base (Rafael Palmeiro) and home plate (Javy Lopez, with an assist to third-base coach Tom Trebelhorn, who waved him home), and almost running into another one at second (Jerry Hairston).
Those kind of mistakes, not to mention Tejada's error that allowed the Yankees' second run to score, carried a familiar feeling of doom.
But left-hander Erik Bedard (2-2), a red-cheeked rookie from Canada, limited the Yankees to two runs (one earned) over five innings, earning the first win by an Orioles' starter since June 6.
However, after a pair of walks and a single to open the sixth, Bedard handed over a bases-loaded, no-out jam to Grimsley -- for whom the Orioles gave up highly regarded pitching prospect Denny Bautista, specifically for moments like this.
As he prepared to hand the ball over, Mazzilli told Grimsley: "We need outs. That's all we need. Let's get out of here with one run [allowed]."
Grimsley replied, "Give me the ball."
Grimsley promptly struck out Ruben Sierra and Tony Clark, then got Miguel Cairo to ground out meekly to second to end the inning. Grimsley strode confidently to the Orioles' dugout, with the crowd on its feet and his teammates lined up to thank him. An inning later, he retired the Yankees' side on three grounders.
"I was just trying to let the ball sink," said Grimsley, who relies almost exclusively on a heavy sinker, "and get the ball on the ground."
Orioles Notes: Pitching prospect Luis Ramirez, a right-hander for short-season Class A Aberdeen, struck out 15 batters in five innings Wednesday night against Jamestown. Ramirez, a 22-year-old from Curacao, struck out 12 straight batters at one point and allowed only one hit, a leadoff double in the fifth. In the second inning, he struck out four batters -- including one that reached on a third-strike wild pitch. He threw 76 pitches, 58 of which were strikes. . . .
Head trainer Richie Bancells was one of two trainers named to the American League all-star team this year. It is the second such honor for Bancells, who also served as a trainer for the 1993 AL team. The All-Star Game is July 13 at Houston's Minute Maid Park.