Orioles tie series with NY Yankees
BALTIMORE, Maryland - Agence France-Presse
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Jim Johnson celebrates striking out New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez for the final out in Game 2 of their American League series.Taiwanese pitcher Chen Wei-Yin baffled New York’s powerful batters on Oct. 8, sparking the Baltimore Orioles over the Yankees 3-2 to level their Major League Baseball playoff series.
Deadlocked 1-1 in the best-of-five American League divisional series, the Orioles and Yankees move to New York for two games and a fifth match if necessary tomorrow.
Either the Yankees or Orioles will advance to face Detroit or Oakland in the best-of-seven American League championship series to decide a berth in the World Series final.
Chen, who joined the Orioles this year after seven seasons in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons, won his North American playoff debut by outdueling New York’s Andy Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in Major League Baseball playoff history.
The 27-year-old left-hander surrendered two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three Yankee batters in 6 1/3 innings.
The Asian ace tossed 77 of his 112 pitches for strikes and staked Baltimore a 3-2 lead after seven innings, a crucial accomplishment since the Orioles went 74-0 in the regular season when leading after seven innings.
The Orioles, who had not won a playoff game since 1997, went 29-9 in one-run decisions this season and showed poise under pressure in beating the Yankees, who edged them in the season’s last two days for the AL East division crown.
“It has been an impressive situation,” Baltimore outfielder Chris Davis said. “It has taught us how to deal with the highs and the lows, to not get too down in the lows and ride out the highs.”
Orioles closing relief pitcher Jim Johnson had been tagged by the Yankees for five runs a night earlier in a 7-2 New York triumph.
This time, Johnson shut down the top of the Yankee batting order to complete the victory, inducing infield ground outs from Derek Jeter and Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki and striking out Alex Rodriguez.
New York’s Pettitte allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out five over seven innings.
New York took the lead in the first inning when Suzuki reached first on a fielding error by Baltimore’s Mark Reynolds and raced home on a double to right field by Robinson Cano.
Baltimore answered in the third when a bases-loaded single by Davis drove in two runs and gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
The Yankees loaded the bases in the fourth inning but Chen induced a pop fly out and a ground out to end the threat. The Orioles stretched their edge to 3-1 in the sixth when Matt Wieters snapped an 0-for-10 playoff hit drought with a leadoff double and scored on a Reynolds single to right field.
The Yankees responded in the seventh when Eduardo Nunez led off with a double and scored on a Jeter single to left field, but New York stranded two base runners in scoring position in the inning and still trailed 3-2.