Bullpen perfection disappeared for the Baltimore Orioles when it mattered most.
These exciting young Birds had been 76-0 this year when leading after seven innings, their relievers carrying them through the hot days of summer and the crisp nights of early fall.
They were two outs from taking control of their AL division series against the Yankees. Jim Johnson had converted a big league high 51 saves.
But then Raul Ibanez, pinch hitting for no less than Alex Rodriguez, turned on a 94 mph fastball with one out in the ninth inning to tie the score 2-all.
Two innings later, it was Ibanez again.
The 40-year-old homered off Brian Matusz leading off the 12th inning, giving the Yankees a 3-2 win Wednesday night and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Yankees have a long history of doing this.
There was Tino Martinez’s tying, two-run homer off Arizona’s Byung-Hyun Kim with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. There Scott Brosius’ tying, two-run homer off Kim with two outs in the ninth the following night.
Rodriguez hit a tying, two-run homer off Minnesota’s Joe Nathan in Game 2 of the 2009 AL division series, then hit a tying solo shot of the Los Angeles Angels’ Brian Fuentes in the second game of that year’s AL championship series.
All for naught was the great effort of Miguel Gonzalez, a 28-year-old rookie making his postseason debut. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and a walk, allowing his only run on Derek Jeter’s RBI triple just out of reach of bubble-blowing center fielder Adam Jones in the third.
YANKEES 3, ORIOLES 2
McLoth lf5020Jeter ss4021
Hardy ss5000J.Nix ss1000
C.Davis rf2000ISuzuki lf5000
EnChvz rf1000AlRdrg dh3000
AdJons cf5010Ibanez ph-dh2222
Wieters c5000Cano 2b4000
Thome dh5000Swisher rf4010
MrRynl 1b4010Teixeir 1b4000
Flahrty 2b3111Grndrs cf4000
Andino 2b2010RMartn c4120
Machd 3b3111ErChvz 3b4000
No outs when winning run scored.
DP—Baltimore 1, New York 1. LOB—Baltimore 6, New York 3. 2B—R.Martin (1). 3B—Jeter (1). HR—Flaherty (1), Machado (1), Ibanez 2 (2). SB—McLouth (1). CS—McLouth (1). S—Machado.
Matusz pitched to 1 batter in the 12th.
HBP—by Kuroda (Mar.Reynolds, C.Davis).
Umpires—Home, Brian Gorman; First, Fieldin Culbreth; Second, Mike Everitt; Third, Mark Carlson; Right, Angel Hernandez; Left, Tony Randazzo.
T—3:31. A—50,497 (50,291).
GIANTS 8, REDS 3
Angel Pagan led off the game with a home run, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval connected later and Tim Lincecum came out of the bullpen to help San Francisco beat Cincinnati, evening their NL division series at 2-all.
The Giants can complete an unprecedented comeback today.
CARDINALS 8, NATIONALS 0
Chris Carpenter was every bit the postseason ace he’s been in the past for St. Louis.
Taking the mound for only the fourth time in 2012, missing a rib after surgery to cure numbness on his right side, the 37-year-old Carpenter pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning, rookie Pete Kozma delivered a three-run homer, and the defending champion Cardinals beat the Nationals to take a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.