Orioles hang on for dear life, beat Yankees 3-2 in Game 2

Patrick McDermott - Getty Images

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen and a trio of relievers held down the Yankees in Game 2, with closer Jim Johnson pitching brilliantly in the 9th after giving up five runs in Game 1.

Monday night, in another game delayed by Baltimore rains, the Orioles have evened this American League Division Series with a dramatic 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees.

Oh, and The Streak lives.

Every baseball season comes with a great number of numbers. Defining numbers. When we consider 2012, we're certainly going to remember Miguel Cabrera's numbers. We're going to remember Melky Cabrera's plate appearances. We're going to remember Adam Greenberg's number. Plenty more.

But if there's one number that we might wind up remember more than any other, it's this:

74-0

That was the Baltimore Orioles' record this season in games they led after seven innings.

Early on, it didn't look like the Orioles might not have any sort of lead. With rookie Wei-Yin Chen starting for the Orioles, Derek Jeter led off with a ringing single to center field, and all hands were safe when first baseman Mark Reynolds muffed Ichiro Suzuki's grounder. When Alex Rodriguez zipped a laser shot up the middle, a rout looked well underway ... except second baseman Robert Andino, shading Rodriguez up the middle, was able to make a diving catch and, with a flip to shortstop J.J. Hardy, double off Jeter.

The Yankees wouldn't come up empty, though, thanks to Ichiro's derring-do. Robinson Canó doubled into the right-field corner, but the right-field corner in Oriole Park isn't very far away, so a good relay throw was in plenty of time to nail Ichiro trying to score. He was out by 10 feet ... except somehow he evaded Matt Wieters' tag not once but twice (fully .giffable, by the way, for your viewing pleasure).

That was all they would get in the first. It stayed 1-0 until the third. Yankees starter Andy Pettitte had retired the first eight Orioles he'd faced, but Andino's bloop single started a rally that would feature Davis's two-run single. And in the sixth, the O's made it 3-1 when Matt Wieters led off with a double and Mark Reynolds chased him home with a single.

In the seventh, the Yankees finally knocked Chen out of the game. Was this a good thing, though? With one out and a run already in, Buck Showalter called on Darren O'Day, who struck out Alex Rodriguez. With Robinson Cano up next, Showalter pulled O'Day and brought in lefty Brian Matusz. But it wasn't the Matusz vs. Cano match-up that Showalter wanted. It was Matusz vs. Nick Swisher, because Swisher had gone just 1 for 19 in his career against Matusz.

So Matusz walked Cano intentionally, and Swisher hit a routine fly ball to center field to squelch the rally.

Genius.

Counting their Wild Card victory over the Rangers, the Orioles were 75-0 in 2012 when leading after seven innings.

Would they make it 76-0?

That would be up to Matusz and closer Jim Johnson.

Matusz gave up a leadoff single to Mark Teixeira in the eighth, then struck out Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson before getting Eduardo Nuñez on a foul pop.

Somewhat amazingly, ol' Andy Pettitte came out for the bottom of the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single, though, and that was it. David Robertson came in, and ultimately stranded a runner at third base.

So here it was. A one-run lead, with Johnson, Major League Baseball's saves leader, coming in for the toughest of saves: the slimmest of leads, with the top of The New York Yankees' order coming up.

Would Johnson think about his last 26 appearances in the regular season, in which he gave up the grand total of one run? Or would he think about what happened just the night before, when he gave up five runs and took the big loss?

You can ask him later. But his first pitch was a hard sinker that Derek Jeter sent straight to J.J. Hardy for an easy out. Next up was Ichiro, and Johnson just kept throwing those sinkers. He didn't have the pitch Sunday night; Monday night, he had it. Ichiro hit a ground ball to Andino. Two outs.

And then, Alex Rodriguez. One swing could tie the game. One out would give the Orioles their first postseason victory at home since 1997. More sinkers. Really hard sinkers. Silly sinkers. Rodriguez took some pitches. Missed some pitches. Fought off some pitches. Full count.

Johnson reared back. Threw his best, hardest, silliest sinker. It was an unhittable pitch, but the guy with 660 home runs tried to hit it ...

Arodk

76 and 0.

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