NEW YORK – With midnight approaching, the Baltimore Orioles’ bats awoke one more time.
Now they’ll get a last shot to finally overtake the New York Yankees.
J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double in the 13th inning, and Baltimore bounced back from a demoralizing loss to outlast the Yankees, 2-1, Thursday night and force a deciding Game 5 today in the AL Division Series.
After splitting 22 games this year, it all comes down this: a winner-take-all match for a spot in the AL Championship Series against Detroit.
Game 1 winner CC Sabathia was set to pitch the deciding game for the Yankees against Jason Hammel.
The Orioles were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position until Hardy doubled off David Phelps with one out to score Manny Machado, who had doubled.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunities to score runs,” Hardy said, “so when there are those opportunities, I think we’re trying a little bit too hard.”
Phelps had relieved in the 12th after Joba Chamberlain was hit by a flying broken bat, forcing him to leave with a bruised right elbow.
Jim Johnson bounced back from allowing Raul Ibañez’s pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning Wednesday to earn his second save in the series with a perfect 13th.
“I don’t take for granted at any time what these guys are accomplishing so far,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “They know that. I have so much respect for our guys.”
Hours after learning Joe Girardi had kept quiet that his father died last Saturday, the Yankees couldn’t rally late. This time, Girardi called upon Eric Chavez to pinch hit for slumping Alex Rodriguez. He lined out to third base to end it.
Baltimore’s win pushed all four division series to five games for the first time since the round began in 1995.
The Orioles have been pursuing the Yankees all season, cutting a 10-game deficit in July to zero in early September. Baltimore and New York were tied 10 times atop the East in the final month but the Yankees wrapped up the division on the final night of the regular season.
After dropping Game 1, the Orioles rebounded with another one-run win in a season in which they had the best record in the majors in such games at 29-9. But they lost in stunning fashion in 12 innings Wednesday night, when Ibañez homered twice in his two at-bats after pinch-hitting for Rodriguez.
These Birds don’t rattle, though.
They came right back Thursday for their first win in extras against the Yankees this year. They also lost twice to New York in extra innings in the regular season before going on a run of 16 straight wins after the ninth inning.
“It’s kind of what we’ve been used to; it’s been a fight to stay ahead of this club all year,” Girardi said of the Orioles. “It’s pretty fitting.”