The Orioles' Robert Andino is called out as he is tagged… (Reuters photo )
There were myriad plays or even bounces that could have gone just a bit differently in the Orioles' 6-3 loss Sunday, resulting in a satisfying victory over the New York Yankees to take into a day off that will instead be filled with lament.
What if Brian Roberts' game-tying double off Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth inning had bounced around in the right corner, allowing Robert Andino to score the winning run rather than be tagged out at home plate on a play almost too close to call?
What if Luke Scott's deep fly ball with two on and two out and the Orioles trailing by a run in the eighth inning had gotten over the head of Brett Gardner rather than the Yankees left fielder making a superb running and lunging catch?
What if Russell Martin's game-winning infield single in the top of the 11th off Jason Berken had been hit just a couple of more feet to the right, resulting in a routine double play and an end to an inning in which the Yankees scored three times on a leadoff double by Robinson Cano and two other well-placed infield hits?
"It [ticked] me off sitting out there, but you can't do anything about it," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said of the 11th inning. "We played our [butts] off. At the end, it wasn't enough."
The bottom line, as manager Buck Showalter pointed out after a three-hour, 45-minute game that included a 40-minute weather delay during the top of the decisive 11th inning, was that the Orioles are 0-4 against the Yankees this season and just 17-41 against them since the start of the 2008 season. They have beaten New York just seven times in their past 35 meetings.
The latest loss, played before an announced holiday crowd of 25,051 that sat in mostly sunshine for nine innings and then hurriedly ducked for cover during the late-game storm, was the Orioles' 11th defeat in their past 13 games. They are a season-high four games under .500 at 8-12, and it won't get any easier for the last-place club as the surging Boston Red Sox come to Camden Yards for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
"Close isn't good enough for those guys in that clubhouse," Showalter said. "They're frustrated right now because they know that there's a very fine line and we'll get some breaks to go our way."
The Orioles did plenty of things to suggest that they deserved a better fate. After giving up a two-run homer to Curtis Granderson on his fourth pitch of the afternoon and allowing the first four Yankees he faced to reach base, young starter Jake Arrieta steadied himself and gave up just three runs while striking out a career-high nine over six innings.
After getting totally dominated by veteran junkballer Freddy Garcia, who allowed just two singles by Scott over six shutout innings, the Orioles' struggling lineup rallied off the vaunted back end of the Yankees bullpen. Mark Reynolds' two-run homer off Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning broke an 0-for-22 skid for the third baseman and cut the Orioles' deficit to 3-2.
After being denied in the eighth when the speedy Gardner ran down Scott's opposite-field drive, the Orioles strung together some quality at-bats to tie the score in the ninth against Rivera, the almost-certain Hall of Famer who had blown only six saves in 72 career chances against them.
Jones worked Rivera for a gritty 10-pitch at-bat that resulted in a leadoff walk. Pinch hitter Jake Fox came off the bench to keep the inning alive with an opposite-field single. With men on first and second and two outs, Roberts laced a double to right field. Andino, pinch running for Fox, never broke stride, but the ball bounced to right fielder Nick Swisher. He fired to Cano, whose relay throw just got Andino at the plate, according to umpire Angel Campos.
"I haven't looked at it yet," Showalter said when asked whether Campos made the right call. "I hear conflicting things. If it's that close and nobody knows for sure, I don't spend a whole lot of time on those things. We had other opportunities. I'm not going to dwell on it."
The Orioles made a stirring defensive play of their own to keep the score tied. With runners on the corners and one out in the 10th, Jeremy Accardo got Alex Rodriguez to lift a fly ball to medium center field. Jones caught it and made a perfect throw to catcher Matt Wieters, who blocked Jeter off the plate and tagged him out to keep the score tied.
But as good as that play was, the Orioles' defense also let them down on two occasions. With runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, Arrieta got Rodriguez to hit into what should have been an inning-ending double play. However, shortstop Cesar Izturis saw the ball get stuck in his glove, and the Orioles only got one out with the Yankees (12-6) taking the 3-0 lead.