BALTIMORE — Sometimes, postseason experience isn’t all that important.
With Chen leading the way, the Orioles squeezed out a 3-2 victory Monday night to even their AL division series at one game apiece.
Chris Davis drove in two runs for the wild-card Orioles, who used the same formula that got them into the postseason for the first time in 15 years: a magnificent bullpen and an ability to win tight games. Baltimore was 29-9 in one-run decisions during the regular season and 74-0 when leading after seven innings.
Major league saves leader Jim Johnson, roughed up for five runs in a Game 1 loss, came back to pitch a perfect ninth to close it out.
“It’s real easy, like I said last night, to trust Jim Johnson,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s done it a few times for us. He’s having a special year, a special year.”
Afterward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos shook hands with almost every player in the jubilant clubhouse.
“It is great that he was in here,” outfielder Adam Jones said. “Obviously it meant a lot to him as much as it did us and the fans. He doesn’t come in here a lot. He takes care of business up there and we take care of it on the field. Hopefully, the next time I see him he will be holding a trophy.”
The rest of the best-of-five series is at Yankee Stadium, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night. Hiroki Kuroda will start for AL East champion New York against rookie Miguel Gonzalez, who was 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts in the Bronx this season, striking out 17 and walking only one in 13 2-3 innings.
Baltimore won all three series at Yankee Stadium this year.
“You definitely don’t want to go into New York in a five-game series down two games. This is big — having the day off tomorrow, hopefully building some momentum, and we can take that into New York,” Davis said.
Chen gave up two runs, one earned, and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings. The Taiwan native, who pitched previously in Japan, was 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four outings against New York this season, including two in September in which he yielded a total of 11 runs over 11 1-3 innings.
And now, the playoff series is tied after the teams split 18 games during the regular season.
“It seemed like Baltimore and us have kind of gone back and forth all year and that’s what we did here,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.