Orioles grind out 3-2 win to even series

Oddly enough, things actually felt pretty good for the Yankees early in the game, as they caught most of the breaks. Ichiro Suzuki scored in the first inning on a circus move, and Andy Pettitte was generally solid, though he did hit one rough patch in the third inning. After retiring the first eight men he faced, Pettitte allowed the next five Orioles, though only two would score thanks to a fortuitous event in which J.J. Hardy failed to score from second on a slow ground ball that rolled into the outfield because he saw neither the ball get past Derek Jeter nor his third base coach waving him home. After that Pettitte would more or less settle in, and gave the Yankees a chance to break through at multiple opportunities.

Things really began to go bad in the fourth inning, however, when the Yankees loaded the bases with one out but failed to score even a single run. Curtis Granderson actually lined a single into center field but a gimpy Mark Teixeira had no chance of making it home against Adam Jones‘ arm, and then Eduardo Nunez flailed a weak pop up to the shortstop position, dampening the Yankees’ chances severely before a Jeter ground out stomped them out completely. The Orioles would manage to tack on an insurance run in the sixth inning when Mark Reynolds followed a Matt Wieters double by poking a single past a not-diving Cano to bring Wieters around to score (seriously, I’m not one to complain about a lack of grititude, but considering that Cano just did the exact same thing roughly a month ago in Tampa Bay it was really frustrating. All you have to do is nock the ball down to keep the slow as molasses Wieters from scoring). That run would prove to be huge when Nunez created a run with his legs in the very next inning, racing to second when Chris Davis missed adiving catch in the outfield and scoring quickly on a good piece of hitting by Jeter.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Orioles turned the game over to their bullpen after Ichiro made the first out, and the Bombers never really even threatened the Orioles’ relievers. Darren O’Day got A-Rod to strike out swinging on a 3-2 slider, and after Ichiro stole second base, the Orioles elected to have Brian Matusz walk Cano to face Nick Swisher. After wild pitch, Swisher flied a 3-2 pitch high into left field for the third out, and the Yankees would only get one more base runner in the game when Mark Teixeira led off the eighth inning with yet another long single, this one into the left field corner. he didn’t get thrown out at second, but the Yankees didn’t get him that far either.

The one bright spot in the game was Pettitte, who finished seven innings and faced on hitter in the eighth, finishing the game by allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts. David Robertson also turned in a quality outing by getting two weak balls and striking out Mark Reynolds in the eighth inning. He threw 12 pitches in the game, 9 of which were curveballs. The position players were just terrible, however, especially at the plate where only three balls were hit particularly well. Those were Teixeira’s eighth inning single, the Cano double into the right field corner that scored Ichiro in the first inning, and Jeter’s seventh inning RBI single. That last one wasn’t even hit particularly hard, just dinking ovr the shortstop and into the outfield, but Jeter did make a really good adjustment to the way Chen was pitching him in the at bat and pulled the two strike pitch for the single rather than simply trying to go the other way with it. That that’s one of the most positive offensive moments I can come up with from tonight goes to show you exactly what kind of performance it was.

Now the two teams will head back to New York to finish the series locked in a 1-1 tie, which isn’t so bad in its own right, but feels a lot worse than it should given the way tonight’s game went. We’ve simply seen this offense lay an egg far too many times in the second half this year to feel good at all about watching it happen in a very winnable playoff game. Hiroki Kuroda will get the ball for the Yankees as they try to take the pivotal Game 3, but he’ll be opposed by Orioles’ righty Miguel Gonzalez, who has set a personal best for strikeouts in a game each of the last two times he’s faced the Yankees. Is this starting to feel like last year’s ALDS to anyone else?


Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

23 thoughts on “Orioles grind out 3-2 win to even series

  1. I know no years are alike, but the Yankees have done this a couple times, win game 1 of the DS by a deceivingly high score, lose a tight game 2 (02,06,11) and then fold. Or in '10 Texas when they won a close game one then folded the next three before losing in 6. Hope the Yanks don't fall apart again, but this feels like a 5 game series.

  2. JayJay

    Why am I sure that this series will end the same way last night's game ended?

  3. brian

    Can I ask an honest question…

    Exactly when do you lose in the postseason by one run and it ISN'T incredibly frustrating… it's the nature of the sport…

    I actually felt good about Pettitte and that the bad defense didn't hurt him, I feel pretty good about the lineup, and I even feel good about Arod and Swisher, who I expect to bounce back in game 3..

    The Yankees will get the long ball going and win game 3… don't be shocked to see the Orioles come back and win Game 4 but I firmly believe the Yankees got this

  4. Dave

    One thing you forgot – A-Rod's first AB, where he hit a hard, low liner to second that turned into a double play. A little bit of bad luck on BABIP that could have changed the game early. Maybe Jeter doesn't score with no one out against Jones' arm, but then you have bases loaded for Cano instead of just Ichiro at 1st.

  5. I know I'm supposed to be all pro-ARod, but there is zero reason he should be batting third right now. Baseball is a meritocracy and he merits something lower than #3

  6. ProfRobert

    I'd like to see Chavez against righties, but let's not magnify A-Rod's faillures last night. Yeah, making the last out on a strikieout looks bad, but the Yankees didn't lose the game in the ninth inning. They lost it when they had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the seventh and Swisher flied out against Matusz. They lost when the got the leadoff runner on in the eighth and then couldn't put a ball in play — two strikeouts and a foul out, none involving A-Rod. Yeah, A-Rod's .111 looks awful, but as Dave points out above, if that rocket doesn't find Andino's glove, you have a very different inning (heck, I was relieved it wasn't a triple play — it reminded me of the old Strat-O-Matic "line out into as many outs as possible). So, yeah, the game found A-Rod in the ninth, but other Yankees lost it earlier.

    • I thought about that, too, Prof. I would have figured it was a triple play.

  7. jay_robertson

    Why are we focusing on A-Rod not hitting? I don't see anyone mentioning Jeter's second official error in two games, or another passed ball by Tex? Thanks, Brien, for calling out Cano's apparent lack of effort – the dude goes back and forth – when he's in a hitting groove, and constantly being lauded as a "force of nature" at the plate, he just doesn't seem to be quite as ambitious in the field. But that's Robby.

    If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say they got word from Hank/Hal/or Cash to lay down, guaranteeing two sold out games at the Stadium. At least I hope that's the case – since the team didn't look all that hot, if indeed they WERE trying.

    • Tommy

      Jeter and Tex's errors required more effort from Andy, but they didn't directly yield runs. And they had two hits a piece.

    • I'm certainly not laying the blame at ARod's feet. Hardly. Each decision/thought is independent of the next/previous. Jeter's D was totally exposed the last two games. And yes, even Hoover Teixeira pulled a Buckner, minus the ramifications.

      Howevahhhhhhhhh… When every pitcher is up there challenging (and winning) ARod to hit their fastball or some breaking pitch down and away, it's a problem. Yeah, moving him down might not have any impact. Small sample size. Randomness of events. Still, in the heart of the lineup, there's a very big hole.

      ARod had some bad luck on that DP to Andino but regardless of that, when he comes to the plate, are you confident? Optimistic? Be honest, because I know I am far from confident or optimistic and I am usually extremely optimistic.

      I don't have a problem dropping ARod, singles hitter, to sixth. None. Put him behind the switch hitters and ahead of lefty Granderson.

      /end ranty rant

      • jay_robertson

        No – I'll be honest. I don't have any greater expectation of a positive outcome when Alex comes to the plate than I do when Nunee comes up. But I don't know where you can "hide" him, either. At least this way, if he gets his single, he's on base for Robby; plus, with Cano batting after him, you KNOW he's going to get balls to hit. Someday, he's bound to hit one.

        At least with this batting order, the black holes are small. If he is moved down next to Martin/Stewart, Granderson, and Nunez/Nix/Ibanez – time it right and the opposing pitcher can have a 9 pitch, 1-2-3 inning.

        I don't care where he bats – but Torre proved that moving him to 8th didn't improve things. (SSS)

      • Tommy

        I agree. And I think that's why more people harp on Arod's failures than say, Jeter or Tex's fielding. There is no solution to Jeter's sluggishness in the field, as there is no one to replace him there. Arod on the other hand can at least be dropped down in the lineup, or in an a more extreme case, sit while Chavez plays against righties.

      • BrienJackson

        I said on Twitter that I would have PH Ibanez for A-Rod in the ninth, and I was dead serious.

  8. Mscott

    Girardi shouldn’t be getting the EZ Pass on not pinch running Gardner for Teixiera in the 8th. Saying "Gardner will only be used when he can steal — Matusz is tough to steal on – hence no Gardner" is ridiculous:

    1.Hard to steal on is not impossible to steal on.
    2.Even if he’s not actually going to steal, he makes Matusz think about it, have to throw over, possibly messing with his pitching rhythm, throwing extra fastballs, etc.
    3.Gardner, unlike Teixiera right now, can score from first on a double.
    4.Gardner, unlike Teixiera right now, can go from first to third on a single.
    5.Gardner, unlike Teixiera right now, can score from second on a single
    6.Gardner, unlike Teixiera right now, can get to second on a short passed ball.

    It’s also a substitution that doesn’t burn up an extra player. Gardner to left, Ichiro to right, Swisher to first (worse infield defense but better outfield defense). You lose Teixiera’s bat but if you don’t tie up the game he’s not getting up again anyway.

    Bad call, Joe.

    • Tommy

      I couldn't agree more.

    • BrienJackson

      I was going to cover that some time today, but I would guess the reason that it's not getting any more attention is because Martin and Granderson struck out in the next two at bats.

      • Mscott

        Brien, I'm sure you're correct as to that being the reason it's not getting more attention but that's a classic case of "Butterfly Effect," "Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions," Kay's "Fallacy of the Predetermined Outcome," or whatever…I say that Martin and Granderson might not get the same type and/or quality of pitches if Matusz has to worry about Gardner. Plus, when Girardi makes the decision HE doesn't know they're going to strike out — it doesn't change the evaluation of his strategy at all…

    • Chad

      I spent the first 30 seconds after Teixeira's hit thinking the same thing. However, the more I thought about it the less annoyed I was. In fairness to Joe, I can't count the number if times I've seen a middle-of-the-order slugger get pinch-run for in the 7th or 8th inning, only to rue that fact when their spot in the lineup comes up in the 9th (or later). With Teixeira leading off the 8th, there was a pretty decent chance of his spot coming back up in the 9th in a very important situation.

      • All else being equal I would agree, but considering Tex’s injury it’s really a no brainer.I mean, forget stolen bases, if Martin singles into right and Tex can’t go to third that’s a REALLY big swing in the game.

        • chad

          I totally see both sides of the argument, I just don't think it was a no-brainer. If Martin hits a two-hopper to the SS on the first pitch, it's all for nothing.

          At some point there will be statistical analysis that will quantify the increase in speed improvement of Gardner over Teixeira, the odds of a ball being put in play where that speed will matter, and the associated change in run expectancy. It will then factor in the odds of Teixeira's spot coming back up later in the game, and the impact of the likely decreased offensive output in those ABs, etc. And then the fans will be mad at an IPad instead of Girardi's binder.

          • ProfRobert

            One additional factor: Reynolds was playing behind Tex, not holding him on. Gardner doubtlessly would have been held on. What does the Binder (or the SABRmetricians) say about the effect of a slightly larger hole on the right side?

            I thought about it at the time, but then thought that I'd pinch run if Tex got to second. If what happened happened (which was quite foreseeable, sadly), then at least I still have his bat in the lineup if he comes up in the ninth or in extra innings.

  9. David

    How much of ARod's (or the Yankees) struggles (especially in the 9th inning) comes from the fact that Angel Hernandez was giving pitchers the inside pitch about 3" off the plate to righties? I know Martin was rung up in a big spot earlier in the game (and complained and even SMOLTZ said something). Of the 6 pitches ARod saw in the 9th, he laid off (properly) the 3 outside pitches and swung at the 2 inside pitches that AHer had been calling before striking out on the (legitimately) good 6th pitch?

  10. Rich7041

    Angel Hernandez has no business umpiring a major league game. And he strikes me as the type to be petty & vindictive. The plate might've gotten wider exactly because several Yankees had the temerity to question his strike zone.

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