There are times when watching Orioles’ baseball can be tedious. Over the years, many of those evening-dragging, let-it-end contests have been against the New York Yankees.
But not Thursday night at Camden Yards, not with Orioles’ right-hander Kevin Gausman and Yankees’ righty Masahiro Tanaka dueling.
The two pitchers each threw eight scoreless innings, combining for eight hits and one walk while striking out 11.
It was a classic – an exceptionally well-played, well-pitched, tense game – and one that didn’t end until a Pedro Alvarez sacrifice fly in the 10th. If you missed it, you missed a tremendous one.
“It was a lot of fun. 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.”
Gausman was superb, allowing three hits and allowing no walks in just his third start back from the disabled list. If these first three games are a glimpse of what’s to come this season for Gausman – three earned runs in 19 innings – it’s gonna be fun to watch.
Wieters throws a laser
You want more good news from the Orioles’ win Thursday?
Matt Wieters is Matt Wieters defensively.
The catcher made a gutsy and impressive throw with two outs in the ninth inning to get Starlin Castro snoozing off second base.
It was the throw of a man who has no concerns about his surgically repaired elbow.
“There can be no hesitation there and there hasn’t been from Matt since Day One,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You can’t have any reservations unless you go there with full intent.”
Closer Zach Britton was excited to see the play made, not just because it got him out of the ninth.
“That was a great throw,” Britton said. “And that’s something that tells you how he’s feeling physically, which is nice to see.”
Not going with Miller in 10th
For me, the game-changer Thursday was the decision by Yankees manager Joe Girardi – even though he was ejected in the fourth for arguing that Gausman had balked – to start the bottom of the 10th with Johnny Barbato and not closer Andrew Miller.
Barbato allowed an infield single to Hyun Soo Kim and another single to Jonathan Schoop, which moved Kim to third, before Miller was summoned.
The former Oriole was in a tough spot, runners on the corners, no outs, and he gave up the game-winning sacrifice fly to Alvarez.
Girardi basically said he felt like Barbato would be pitching at some point, and Girardi is pretty consistent; he doesn’t like to use his closer unless it is a save situation.
But Miller is one of the best pitchers in baseball. We saw that in Baltimore in 2014. And Miller hasn’t allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings this season. He’s allowed just four hits and struck out 16. And he’s great against righties and lefties. Barbato has allowed eight runs in 12 innings this year.
If you want to win a close game, pitch your best pitchers. Showalter did that with the O’Day-Britton combo. And Girardi should have done that with Dellin Betances-Miller.
Kim shows speed, knowledge
Kim, who is now 10-for-18 as a big leaguer (.556 average), hustled to beat out a chopper to the right side in the 10th that the Yankees couldn’t quite make a play on. He then went from first to third on a single to left center by Schoop.
He never stopped running; the advance reports said to be aggressive on the bases when Ellsbury, who does not have a strong arm, had the ball.
“I was told to push the envelope, so I did what I was told to do,” Kim said.
When the Orioles signed Kim we were told he was a good baserunner despite not being particularly fast.
That was definitely a heady, hard-charging move, and one that set-up the Orioles’ win.