On a night staged for Baltimore Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to take the spotlight — with more than a million viewers in his native Taiwan watching his big-league debut half a world away at 7 a.m. — fans there received the gift of extra baseball until the cusp of lunchtime.
As the temperature dipped, the Orioles and Yankees played deep into the chilly Baltimore night at Orioles Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday evening, with the teams trading goose eggs through the late innings.
Three national TV networks in Taiwan carried the game live, but the game was decided nearly two hours after Chen exited the game.
Just 30 minutes before midnight, Yankees late-inning substitute Raul Ibanez hit a two-out, run-scoring, ground-rule double to right-centerfield off Pedro Strop that ultimately handed the Orioles a 5-4 loss, ending a four-hour, 38-minute marathon with their second straight defeat to New York after opening the season 3-0.
After Ibanez’s hit, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera shut the door on the top of the Orioles’ order, ending the game with a strikeout of Nick Markakis.
Both teams had several opportunities, combining for a frigid 2 for 25 with runners in scoring position, with the Orioles a putrid 0 for 8.
The Orioles had their offensive opportunities earlier, especially in the ninth inning, when they stranded the winning run 90 feet away with the bases loaded after Yankees reliever Cory Wade induced a inning-ending pop-up off the bat of J.J. Hardy.
Pinch hitter Nolan Reimold led off the ninth with a seeing-eye single off reliever Boone Logan past the hole at second base against an infield shift. Two batters later Chris Davis singled, but was forced at second on a Robert Andino fielder’s choice. After Andino took second uncontested, Endy Chavez went up 3-0 before being handed an intentional walk to load the bases.
Before the 12th, five different members of the Orioles bullpen threw 51 / 3 scoreless innings in relief of Chen, striking out seven in that span.
Chen’s introduction to the big leagues was an abrupt one. His fourth pitch of his major league career was taken over the center-field fence by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to open the game. Chen then put runners at second and third before escaping further damage.
But part of the reason the Orioles signed the 26-year-old Chen was because of his cool demeanor and his ability to adapt to extraordinary situations.
Chen had made this adjustment before, when he overcame Tommy John surgery as a 21-year-old and when he adapted to pitching in Japan, where he spent the past four years. And his acclimation to the American game this spring was rather seamless.
Against the deadly Yankees lineup, Chen dazzled the defending division champs for five innings, retiring 12 straight New York batters in one span. He struck out six, keeping the Yankees off balance with an array of fastball, sliders and change ups.
Chen’s night unraveled in a three-run Yankees sixth. Two singles and a walk to the heart of the New York order loaded the bases, and one run came in on Andruw Jones’ sacrifice fly, another on a fielding error by Mark Reynolds and the third by No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner’s two-out RBI single on Chen’s 101st and final pitch of the night.
Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom, who got the final out in the sixth, averted disaster in the seventh. After Swisher was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Robinson Cano chopped a ball down the left field line for a double, but Hardy’s perfect relay throw nabbed Swisher at the plate.
Lindstrom then struck out Alex Rodriguez looking on a full-count sinker and struck out Teixeira on a 96-mph fastball.
On the chilliest night of the young season in Baltimore, the Orioles scored off wild pitches by Yankees starter Freddy Garcia. The usually-steady Garcia struggled gripping his breaking ball, throwing five wild pitches on the night, tied for fourth most in one game since 1918. Garcia threw just four wild pitches all last season.
Hardy tied the game in the first with a solo homer – marking the fifth straight time in as many games this season that the Orioles have hit a home run in the first of second inning.
Following a Markakis walk and a single by Matt Wieters, Garcia uncoiled a two wild pitches with Nick Johnson at the plate, the second one plating Markakis for a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth, following an Adam Jones double, Garcia threw another wild pitch that put Jones at third. Two batters later, Jones scored on a Johnson ground out to make it 3-1.
Ahead 3-1, Chen allowed back to back singles in the fifth inning, but Orioles third baseman Mark Reynold made a nice diving play to rob Jeter of a hit and Nick Swisher flied out to deep center to end the threat.
Robert Andino’s ground-rule double to open the fifth led to another run after another Garcia wild pitch to make it 4-1.
— Baltimore Sun