As nice as it was for the Yankees to squeak out a win on Saturday, the Orioles completely outclassed them again on Sunday afternoon. The Bombers looked pretty much exactly like they’ve looked for the last few weeks, meaning lackluster, overwhelmed, and without answers. Let’s recap the latest loss…
- Late Fade: Phil Hughes threw the ball really, really well … until the wheels started to come off in the fifth. He surrendered the requisite solo homer to Mark Reynolds early on, but otherwise escaped a fifth inning jam unscathed. One run in five innings is fine, but Phil didn’t record an out after that. The first four hitters of the sixth reached base, capped off by a three-run dinger from Reynolds. Hughes struck out six and walked one in his 5+ innings, allowing five runs on eight hits. He looked great early on, but it all came apart in a hurry. The Yankees rearranged their rotation so Phil would start this game and he didn’t respond.
- Disaster Bullpen: Middle relief has been a problem all season, and it forced Joe Girardi to pull off the rare five-pitcher inning in the eighth. Cody Eppley (one hit, one walk, four outs), Clay Rapada (struck out the only man he faced), Joba Chamberlain (walk, hit, one out), Justin Thomas (struck out the only man he faced), Derek Lowe (walk, hit, no outs), Boone Logan (allowed a hit to the only man he faced), and Cory Wade (retired all five men he faced) did the damage this time. Rapada, Thomas, and Wade get passes, and I’m willing to forgive Boone since he threw two innings on Saturday and the hit he allowed was just a ground ball through the hole. Either way, the relievers provided nothing resembling relief again.
- Asleep at the Wheel: There were a ton of just weird managerial choices in this game, none as bad as leaving Hughes in to face Reynolds in the sixth. Six of the previous nine Orioles had reached base and a) the bullpen didn’t start warming up until Reynolds was on deck, and b) no one even bothered to visit the mound during the inning. How do you not even send Larry Rothschild out for a chat? After that, Eppley was allowed to face lefties Chris Davis and Nick Markakis despite three left-handers in the bullpen. Both reached base. Rapada was saved for Nate McLouth. Really. Girardi also didn’t bother to pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez or Ichiro Suzuki (three times each!) but he did for Chris Dickerson against Baltimore’s left-handers. Biggest game of the season (to date) and the manager had his worst. Brutal.
- Leftovers: Dickerson was all of the offense, clubbing a two-run dinger to right and coming around to score on Nick Swisher’s single following a leadoff walk to immediately answer Reynolds’ dinger in the fifth. He also made two great catches in center, the kind of stuff that gets players pinch-hit for, you know … the Yankees put the leadoff man on-base in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth innings and managed just one run … other than Dickerson, the only hitter to reach base twice was Russell Martin (two walks). The top five hitters in the order went a combined 3-for-19 with a walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles are two back in the division and the Rays are four back after wrecking the Blue Jays. The Yankees are now headed down to Tampa for three games, who will start Jamie Shields against CC Sabathia on Monday afternoon. It sounds like Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup for the Labor Day matinee, and it would behoove the rest of the team to stop sucking as well.