Early on, this was the kind of game that made you want to pull your hair out. The Yanks squandered an opportunity in the first inning. Then CC Sabathia came back out for the next inning and surrendered the small lead. The game got further away with an inexcusable play by Damon. The Yanks offense wouldn’t lay sleeping for long, though. They came on late and put the team out in front, avoiding the sweep at the hands of the Orioles.
After a quick, nine-pitch first inning, Sabathia ran into trouble in the second. Nolan Reimold, thorn in the Yanks side all series, led things off with a dribbler to third. He’s a quick kid, and A-Rod really had no chance. CC left one up and over the plate to Ty Wigginton, and he deposited it in shallow right. A four-pitch walk to Matt Wieters loaded the bases with none out.
CC turned it around and held the Orioles to two runs in that inning, both scoring on outs. The problems resurfaced in the third. CC retired the first two hitters, but the second, Nick Markakis, sent one out to the wall at the deepest part of the park. Reimold hit it similarly, but instead of right to center he split Melky and Damon for a double off the wall. After a walk he’d finish off the side without allowing a run to score, but CC still didn’t look sharp.
Then came the fourth, an inning to forget. Justin Turner reached on a slow grounder to third, frustrating as hell because a ball hit that weakly should be an out. But it wasn’t. Chad Moeller followed that with another weak grounder to third, and if it was anyone by Chad Moeller running, it likely would have been another infield hit.
So there was a runner on second with one out. I knew that. You knew that. Eight Yankees in the field knew that. Unfortunately, Jef Fiorentino hit it to the one guy who didn’t. Johnny Damon had a bit of trouble with the fly ball in the sun, and breathed a sigh of relief when it landed in his glove. He turned around to toss it to a fan, not realizing that CC still had an out to record. That bought Turner enough time to round third and give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. It was certainly one of the most embarrassing moments of the season.
That seemingly sparked Sabathia. He got Brian Roberts to pop out on the next pitch, and didn’t allow a hit the rest of the way. He walked two, but erased one on a first-pitch double play. That left him with a line of 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. The game didn’t go far in improving Sabathia’s until-now disgusting K/BB ratio.
For the offense, the early game was defined by a lack of hits with runners in scoring position. A-Rod came through with a double to score Jeter in the first, but the next two batters couldn’t plate the runners on second and third. They squandered Derek Jeter‘s leadoff double in the third, mustering only a walk off Jeremy Guthrie.
In the fourth that changed, as the Yanks loaded up the bases with three straight singles, capped by a fourth by Melky Cabrera, plating two runs and tying the game. But the Yanks couldn’t plate another run in that inning, even after Johnny Damon walked to load the bases. The frame ended on an Alex Rodriguez strikeout looking. The pitch was clearly outside, but Marty Foster called it a strike anyway.
That led to a curious situation. After the Yankees took the field, apparently someone had a closer look at it. Alex said something and got tossed. Then Girardi blew up and got himself tossed. I’ll leave the umpire rant for another day. Yeah, the pitch was close, but it wasn’t a strike. If the ball doesn’t catch the corner, it should not be called a strike, and I don’t care if the ump is “consistently” calling them out there.
Matsui broke the RISP woes in the sixth, singling with the bases loaded and plating two runs. That would be all the Yanks would need, but they didn’t let it end there. In the bottom of the eight they poured it on, decimating the Baltimore bullpen and continuing their tradition of putting up enormous numbers in the final three frames. Matsui picked up a three run homer, which iced the victory. The homer didn’t kill the rally, though, and the Yanks put up five more runs and loaded up the bases before the O’s bullpen finally got out of it.
Instead of the scheduled off-day tomorrow, the Yanks will host Anaheim in a makeup of a rainout from earlier this year. The Yanks had won the first two games of that series, losing the third with Sabathia on the hill. Joba Chamberlain will go, and strangely I think he was the scheduled starter for the regularly scheduled game (but I could be wrong). The Yanks magic number is now down to an A-Rodian 13. It could get down to 12, depending on the Sox-Rays game this evening.