As tonight’s game drifted toward extra innings, and then into extra innings, Joe Girardi wasn’t sure exactly how many relievers he had available in the bullpen. Turns out, while Rafael Soriano was warming up in the seventh inning, the tore the nail on his middle finger.
“That’s why we left (David Phelps) in,” Joe Girardi said. “When it got to be the 11th inning and we were running out of pitching, I said, ‘Can the trainer go down there and see if we can file it off and see if they can get it to stop bleeding?’ They got it to stop bleeding and it was a question of, was I going to use him or not. Me and Larry (Rothschild) were going back and forth because, if you put him in there and then it starts bleeding again, you could be in trouble because now all you’ve got left is Mo. It was really smart of the guys to get the run when they did.”
Raul Ibanez’s game-winning double came in the top of the 12th, and Mariano Rivera was available to close out his first save of the season in the bottom of the inning. Soriano was the only reliever who didn’t get in the game. The rest of the bullpen delivered 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out 12.
“With our offense, we’re never really out of the game,” Phelps said. “We just tried to put up as many zeroes as we can to give them a chance to get back into it.”
Clay Rapada got the win, but the heavy lifting was done by Phelps and Cory Wade. In only his second big league appearance, Phelps pitched 2.1 hitless with four strikeouts and no walks. On a night he wasn’t supposed to be available — he’d pitched back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday — Wade also pitched 2.1 scoreless, including key outs with runners on base.
“It’s whatever you’ve got to do,” Wade said. “There are times when they want to give you a break. In this instance, we went into extra innings, so you have to take the ball and get the outs until he comes and gets you.”
• Freddy Garcia became the first pitcher since 1989 to throw five wild pitches in a game. He threw four wild pitches all of last year. The biggest problem, he said, was his splitfinger. That’s usually Garcia’s best pitch, but tonight he couldn’t get a good grip on the ball. “Tried to throw better pitches but I wasn’t able to do that,” he said.
• Aside from a first-inning home run, all of the Orioles runs scored either on a wild pitch or after a wild pitch moved the runner to third.
• Garcia on whether the cold weather affected him: “It’s no excuse for me. I’ve got to be prepared for any kind of weather. Tonight is no exception.”
• Girardi said he’s not sure whether Soriano will be available for tomorrow night’s series finale, but obviously the Yankees need to get as many innings as possible out of CC Sabathia. I can’t imagine Phelps or Wade being available. “I’ll know tomorrow,” Phelps said. “I’ll see how my arm feels.”
• If the Yankees hadn’t taken the lead in the top of the 12th, Girardi said he probably would have stuck with Rapada as long as possible rather than taking a chance on Soriano being able to pitch and stay in the game. Rapada retired the two batters he faced, throwing a total of 12 pitches.
• Rivera has 39 saves in 45 opportunities at Camden Yards. He’s now tied with Randy Myers for the second-most saves all time in this ball park, four behind Jorge Julio. And that’s without ever playing for Baltimore! Amazing.
• The Orioles were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees were 2-for-18 (Ibanez’s game-winning double and Brett Gardner’s game-tying single).
• Oddly enough, the last time a Major League pitcher threw five wild pitches in a game was April 5, 1989. On that night, Ken Howell threw five wild pitches for the Phillies against the Cubs. That happened to be Joe Girardi’s second big league game as a player. He had two hits in the game. “At least I wasn’t catching (for the Phillies) so they couldn’t blame me,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photos