Though the stadium was full and the crowd plenty loud when injured Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tossed out the first pitch, the scene carried none of the wild, pep-rally feel that overtook Camden Yards when playoff baseball returned to Baltimore on Sunday.
"Of course we expect it," said Joe Forintos of Yonkers, N.Y. "We're spoiled. But if you pay this kind of money, you expect the team to win every night."
Forintos came to the game in a Yankees World Series cap and a T-shirt that said, "I'm allergic to Stupid!" Of recent Orioles teams, he said succinctly, "They sucked."
"We're getting the vibe that we're second tier, just the next in along line of opponents," said Kris Mallick, an Orioles fan from White Marsh who took a bus to the game Wednesday afternoon. "I guess they're just used to this."
It makes sense. If the Orioles were bad against everyone else during their run of 14 straight losing seasons, they were downright pathetic against the Yankees, going 79-160 between 1998 and 2011.
"The head-to-head numbers between these two teams since '97 are just so absurd that I think fans always looked at games against the Orioles as respites," said Mike Vaccaro, a columnist at the New York Post. "The part that I always thought was crazy and kind of sad was that you'd tune in to these games at Camden Yards and it would be 50 percent, 60 percent Yankees fans. It was disconcerting to see it become kind of a satellite campus for the Yankees. That's just not the way it's supposed to be, especially for those of us who remember what it used to be like."
The Orioles began to seem less pitiful to New Yorkers when they hired Showalter in 2010. Yankees fans remembered the way the intense, detail-oriented manager righted their club's sinking ship in the early 1990s.
"They not only appreciate what he did here," Vaccaro said. "They know how good he is. The moment that Buck's imprint was on this team, the idea that it was some kind of joke operation flew out the door."
Yankees diehards confirmed that this year's Orioles team has earned their respect. "Honestly, at the beginning of the year, we didn't think anything about the Orioles," Forintos said. "Until we played yous. Then we saw you got a real good team."
There is a flip side to the eternal favorite role occupied by the New Yorkers. When things don't go well, the scrutiny can become crushing, the narrative entirely focused on what they've done wrong.
"If they lose a 5-4 game they had a chance to win, yeah, you blame the Yankees," Forintos said. "You don't talk about what the other team did."
Fortunately for the Yankees, Ibanez's heroics are likely to be the talk of the town on Thursday.