Heading into the top of the seventh inning, Wei-Yin Chen had limited the Yankees to just one run -- scored by the first batter in the game, actually -- but he'd thrown 96 pitches and sidearmer Darren O'Day was already getting loose in the bullpen. Buck Showalter was hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.
The worst luck, as it were.
Designated hitter Eduardo Nunez led off with a fly ball into short right field, where converted first baseman Chris Davis made a diving try but couldn't make the play; when the ball bounced away from Davis, Nuñez made it to second base.
That brought up Derek Jeter. Chen had fallen well behind Nuñez in the count, but he got way ahead of Jeter, pounding the strike zone with fastballs (as usual). With the count 0-and-2, Chen jammed Jeter with a fastball ... and Jeter poked a bingle into short left field, Nuñez scoring easily.
Ichiro came up next, and Chen got him on a fielder's choice. That was Chen's 112th pitch, and with Alex Rodriguez coming up, Showalter replaced the left-handed Chen with the right-handed O'Day.
The count to Rodriguez went full before he finally struck out on one of O'Day's patented Frisbee sliders, while Ichiro was swiping second base. That brought another visit from Showalter, who summoned hard-throwing left-hander Brian Matusz to face hard-hitting left-handed (hitter) Robinson Cano.
Or not. Somewhat bizarrely, Showalter ordered an intentional walk, setting up a match-up between Matusz and switch-hitting Nick Swisher. Showalter's rationale? You'll have to ask him later, but it was probably related to Swisher's history against Matusz: one hit in 19 at-bats.
At the time, it seemed like the most important moment in the game.
But on a full count, Matusz threw Swisher a low fastball that Swisher lofted high into the night; eventually it came to rest in Nate McLouth's glove.
Crisis met, and mostly averted. The Yankees have six more outs to work with, and they're down 3-2.
Oh, and one more thing ... the Orioles haven't lost a game in 2012 in which they owned the lead after seven innings.