- Scott Spratt, Baseball Info Solutions
When Chris Davis singled in a pair of runners that sent the Baltimore Orioles' game with the Seattle Mariners into the 10th inning on Tuesday, the Orioles had to believe they would come out on top. After all, they had won their previous 13 games that went extra innings.
Taylor Teagarden hit an RBI single in the top of the 18th inning, and the Orioles were a half-inning away from a tie with the Yankees atop the AL East standings.
In the bottom half, closer Jim Johnson got a pair of quick outs. He fell behind the next batter, Mike Carp, 3-1 and then caught a lot of the plate with his fastball. Carp drilled a hard grounder up the middle. Johnson had little time to react, but he threw his glove down behind his back and made contact. It took Johnson a second to realize where he had deflected the ball, but he never panicked. Instead, he jogged over to the ball, picked it up and threw a strike to first base to end the game.
The next night, the Orioles, again, found themselves in extra innings, and Adam Jones gave them the lead with a two-run homer in the top of the 11th. And, again, the Orioles closed out the win in the bottom half of the inning with a nice defensive play, this time from Mark Reynolds, who started a nifty 3-6-1 double play.
As you've probably heard, the Orioles have the best record (15-2) in the majors in extra-inning games, and much of their success in such games can be attributed to their defense after the ninth.
The secret to the Baltimore Orioles' extra-inning success is their late-game defense.