Bill Kostroun, Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Baltimore Orioles came up short against the Yankees in the postseason, too.
The brash, young birds produced clutch hits all September while chasing New York. They fell one short in October.
The Orioles return to the postseason for the first time in 15 years ended with a 3-1 loss to CC Sabathia in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series Friday.
After playing the rivals from New York all even for 22 games this year, the Orioles' big bats had little success against the Yankees burly ace.
When they thought they did, they came out on the wrong side of another October call in New York.
In a twist reminiscent of the Baltimore-Yankees 1996 AL championship series, when fan Jeffry Maier reached over the right field wall and pulled Derek Jeter's fly ball over the fence for a homer in Game 1, Nate McLouth hit a disputed fly to right in the sixth.
Unlike that game 16 years ago, McLouth's soaring two-out drive that just slipped past the foul pole was subject to video review. Right field umpire Fieldin Culbreth initially called McLouth's drive foul with a robust thrust of the arm. Umpires then went inside to check the replay and upheld the call in a trip that lasted about 2 minutes.
A reporter for The Associated Press was shown the ball and he did not see any yellow paint from the foul pole on it.
"It was foul all the way, never hit the pole," said Steven Ellis of Queens, N.Y. He said he caught the ball with his hat.
McLouth then struck out.
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 Orioles lost the division on the final day of the season and finished two games back.
But the team that had the best record in one-run games (29-9) and ran off a string of 16 straight victories in extra innings advanced to the division series with a win over the West champion Texas Rangers in the wild-card playoff.
The Orioles pushed the Yankees to the brink in the division series with solid pitching. The bats went silent. J.J. Hardy's run-scoring double in the 13th inning in Thursday night's season-saving 2-1 win was their only hit with runners in scoring position in 16 at-bats in the first two games in New York. They were 3 for 22 in the three games.
Unwilling to believe the run was done, the entire team stood at the railing of their dugout and watched the Yankees celebrate for several moments after Matt Wieters grounded back to Sabathia for the final out.
Still, Baltimore has to consider this a positive season. The Orioles went 93-69 and ended a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons since 1997, when they lost to Cleveland in the AL championship series following a 98-win season.
Missing Nick Markakis, who broke his left thumb when hit by a pitch from Sabathia on Sept. 8, the Orioles mustered just five runs in the three games at Yankee Stadium — all on solo home runs.
Their best chance Friday came in the eighth when Lew Ford had an RBI single off Sabathia and then the Orioles loaded the bases with one out. But McLouth struck out and Hardy hit a soft grounder to shortstop and Jeter made a strong throw to first for the out.
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