NEW YORK – It was just like so many Yankees-Orioles games this season. This one was different. It had a sense of finality.
If the Orioles had lost, they’d be heading home for the winter. Instead, they get to play another day.
Frustrated by the New York Yankees for 12 innings, the Orioles finally scored in the 13th to force a fifth and deciding game of their American League Division Series with a 2-1 win before 49,307 at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.
The Yankees and Orioles have played 22 games this season. They’ve each won 11. On Friday at 5:07 p.m. with the series tied at two games each, Jason Hammel and CC Sabathia hook up.
If the Orioles win on Friday, they get to play the Detroit Tigers on Saturday at Comerica Park in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
After losing their first extra-inning game in six months on Wednesday, the Orioles got back into their overtime comfort zone.
"It feels kind of normal, playing close games late, long games,” Nate McLouth said.
“We've played so many of those games that, we haven't come to expect it; we're comfortable in those situations."
Manny Machado led off the 13th with a double off David Phelps. He moved to third on an infield out by McLouth. J.J. Hardy doubled to left to drive in the go-ahead run.
“It was a lot closer than we would have liked, but at least it turned out on the right side," Hardy said.
Hardy was just 2-for-17 before his hit.
“I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the pressure, maybe it's the first time for a lot of us being here. It's funny, but the whole game I was telling myself, 'Don't try to do too much.' I'm trying to calm myself down and that wasn't working, so that at-bat I actually tried to tell myself to do a little bit more,” Hardy said.
Pedro Strop pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Jim Johnson, who allowed the game-tying home run to Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning on Wednesday, retired the Yankees in the 13th for the save.
“It’s the way it’s supposed to be and I’m guessing it’s going to be a one-run game tomorrow,” Johnson said.
With Joe Saunders pitching strongly, the Orioles left six on in the first four innings.
He worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on three hits, walking four and striking out five, and felt the importance of the game.
“It’s pressure, anxiety, but you’ve got to battle through it,” Saunders said.
“You’ve just go to stay yourself, can’t try to do too much. And go out there and battle your tail off. I did that tonight.”
Seven relievers combined to allow just four hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings. Darren O’Day pitched 2 2/3 innings, his most in more than five years. He’s pitched five hitless innings in the series.
“It's the postseason. You've got to make those moves, you've got to get the outs. Yeah, I'm pitching a lot, but that's a good thing when the manager wants you in there,” O’Day said.
Saunders, who’s been in the postseason before, says it doesn’t get easier.
“It’s fun and it’s tense at the same time. I came back out [to the dugout] in the 10th or 11th and it felt like I had pitched yesterday,” Saunders said.
McClouth hit a home run to right field leading off the fifth off Phil Hughes, and saved a possible run in the bottom of the fifth.
With Russell Martin on first and one out, Nix hit a fly ball to left that McLouth made a great running catch on. He fired to Hardy at short, who relayed to first to easily double up Martin.
Derek Jeter doubled leading off the sixth, Ichiro Suzuki moved him to third with a bunt. Mark Teixeira walked. Jeter scored on Robinson Cano’s infield out, tying the score.
From there, it was scoreless, until the Orioles completed the win at 12:08 a.m.
“It’s tough. I can’t say that I know exactly what they’re going through,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“You try to put yourself in their shoes, but it’s just the a real test mentally and emotionally.”
Hammel, who started Game 1, is back for the deciding one.
“There’s no reason to pressure ourselves anymore. We’ve done this a million times this year,” Hammel said.
“It seems like we’ve played these guys to a one-run game every time out. It’s really nothing new.”
Nor is it new for Jim Thome, who’s in his 10th postseason.
“it should be a great night. This whole series has been great. That’s why you play a full series.