NEW YORK (Reuters) - Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter named Joe Saunders as his starting pitcher for the do-or-die fourth game of their series against the New York Yankees and said there would be no hangover from Wednesday’s 12-inning loss.
The Orioles, who have been virtually unstoppable in close games and extra-inning contests, took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth before New York’s Raul Ibanez hit a pinch-hit homer to tie it and another long ball to win it 3-2 in the 12th.
“We’re so impressed with all our guys tonight,” Showalter said about his young team, who have taken Baltimore into the postseason for the first time in 15 years.
“They played a great game in a tough situation, and they’ll come out and compete tomorrow.”
The defeat snapped a streak of 16 successive extra-innings victories for Baltimore and ended their perfect 74-0 mark this season when leading after seven innings in a game.
Asked if he was stunned by the failure of closer Jim Johnson to preserve Baltimore’s lead in the ninth, Showalter said: ”Stunned? No. Stunned left me a while ago. I got a grip on how hard this is to do.
“Jimmy is a big-hearted, talented guy. Believe me, we’d be at home watching without people like Jim Johnson. He’s a special guy. We’re real proud of him and you’ll see him again tomorrow night, I hope.”
Before the game, Showalter had said he was undecided whether he was going to start left-hander Saunders or right-hander Chris Tillman.
Saunders was the winning pitcher in Baltimore’s victory over the Texas Rangers in the one-game, wildcard playoff to advance to the Division Series.
”Joe is obviously coming off a real good start in a pressure situation, a game that we had to win, and he’ll find himself back in that spot again,’ the Orioles manager said.
“Joe is a guy that gives you a chance to win, and he’ll compete. We feel good with him out there.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford