In the fourth inning, it looked like the Orioles were poised to steal a win. Weather reports had the rains waiting until 10 p.m., which gave the two teams a window to get in a game, or at least most of one. Yet in the third it started to rain a bit, and by the fourth it looked heavy enough to eventually call the game. The Orioles led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, and I thought for sure that when YES came back from a commercial we’d see the tarp on the field. But, mercifully, the rain stopped. The game went on. The Yankees simply could not let that opportunity slip away.
Given a chance to finish the game, the Yankees delivered. It wasn’t pretty, and the Orioles certainly contributed to their own loss. But with three outs in the bottom of the ninth the scoreboard read Yankees 4, Orioles 2. Score another one for the good guys.
Biggest Hit: Cano ties the game
The sixth inning was a story of triumph, for the Yankees, and tragedy, for the Orioles. Chris Tillman, still at a good pace pitch-wise, faced Mark Teixeira to lead off the inning. He fed him three straight curveballs and had an 0-2 count. On the fourth he threw a fastball high, and Teixeira hit a slow roller. If it hadn’t rained, maybe the ball gets to Julio Lugo a bit quicker. But he was playing on the grass and had to charge the ball. It hit the lip of the grass and bounced away. That’s one way to beat the shift.
Alex Rodriguez then worked a 3-2 count, and on the payoff pitch he got an inside, belt-high fastball that he smoked to left for a sure base hit. Luke Scott overpursued, and the ball bounced away from him. Teixeira, seeing the opportunity, moved up to third. That set up Robinson Cano with runners on the corners and no outs. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have up in that situation right now.
Tillman had a clear strategy with Cano: keep the ball away. Only a couple of the eight pitches he threw were near the strike zone. Still, Cano battled through the at-bat. He took a strike on the outside corner and took the three pitches that were nowhere near the zone. He fouled off the rest. On the eighth pitch Tillman threw a curveball away, and Cano bounced one over Ty Wigginton’s head and into first for a game-tying single. That put A-Rod on third, and set up the Yanks to eventually take the lead.
They did on the very next batter. Jorge Posada hit a sure double play ball. Wigginton fielded cleanly and fed Cesar Izturis perfectly. But Izturis missed on the return throw. A-Rod would have scored either way — there were still none out — but that put Posada on second with one out. The Yanks had a chance to tack on to the lead, but after 1/4 of an intentional walk to Curtis Granderson the bottom of the order couldn’t bring home another run.
Biggest Pitch: CC gets Scott…again
We’ve seen this type of start from CC before. He runs into trouble early and it looks like he’s going to get hit hard all game. But then in the middle innings he settles down, and by the seventh he’s still going strong. That was exactly the case last night. CC got singled to death early on, and it resulted in two Orioles runs. They wouldn’t get another the rest of the game.
In the fourth, fifth, and sixth CC retired nine of the 10 hitters he faced. In the seventh, with the Orioles down a run and the bottom of the order due up, they decided to try something different. Cesar Izturis bunted to the left side. A-Rod fielded in time to throw him out, but Cano didn’t get to the bag in time. Julio Lugo, desperate to avoid the double play, sacrificed him to second. That gave the Orioles at least two chances to bring home the tying run.
But then Miguel Tejada grounded out to third, preventing the runner from advancing and spending the second out of the inning. That left matters to Nick Markakis, who nearly came through. He hit one between Teixeira and Cano, and it took a long dive from Cano to keep the ball in the infield. Markakis beat the throw, but the run did not score. After a Ty Wigginton walk loaded the bases, the game rested on the bat of Luke Scott.
This was the fourth time Sabathia would face Scott. In the first he got him swinging on a slider away. In the second Scott singled, but in the third CC came back with the same pitch as the first time and produced the same result. This time Sabathia went at him with his entire arsenal. It started with a curveball away for ball one. Then he came back with a fastball inside that Scott fouled away. Then came a two-seamer that broke down and in, which Scott missed completely. Then, with the count 1-2, Sabathia did not mess around. He went back to the slider, again low and outside. Scott was just as fooled as he was in the second and fifth. The threat was over.
Good to see Gardner get into the game today, even if he wasn’t going to bat. It was a perfect situation for him to try a steal, and even though he didn’t get the best jump it worked out and led to an insurance run. You could see him flinching back towards the bag on a few pitches, so it still doesn’t look like he’s totally comfortable out there. I think that will come with experience, though.
You’re just not stopping Robinson Cano. He’s a different beast this year. If you don’t give him stuff to hit, well, he’ll still try to hit it. But if you feed him garbage he’ll actually take a walk. And if you give him anything near the plate he’ll find a place where someone isn’t standing and hit it there. The team hit seven line drives in the game, he had two of them. A-Rod had three.
Nick Swisher might have had only one hit, but he crushed one to the deepest part of the park in the top of the fifth. That seemed big at the time because it would have tied the game as the rains fell.
Good idea by Russo with the leadoff bunt. Seeing the Jeter GIDP was a bit disheartening, but it’s going to happen from time to time.
Joba has thrown 26.2 innings through 59 games. He’s on pace for 73.1 innings this season. That sounds about right, no?
Also, this is an awesome picure.
WPA graph and box score
The Orioles peaked just a little early.
The Orioles will call up Jake Arrieta to make his major league debut against A.J. Burnett. Odd that they’re pushing back Guthrie.