Rapid Reaction: Orioles 5, Yankees 4
September, 8, 2012
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: The Yankees and the Orioles are once again tied for first in the AL East. And the Yankees may have an ace problem.
COMEBACK? ALMOST: In the ninth against Orioles closer Jim Johnson, the Yankees loaded the bases on three straight singles by Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez and a bunt by Derek Jeter. Nick Swisher almost hit into a 6-4-3, but his slow RBI grounder allowed him to beat the relay, setting up Mark Teixeira. In his first game in a week-and-half because of a calf injury, Teixeira hit into a 4-6-3 game-ending double play. For some reason, Teixeira slid head first into first instead of running through the bag. He was just out.
THREE IS NOT A CHARM IN CHARM CITY: The Yankees gave CC Sabathia a lead for the third consecutive time -- and for the third consecutive time, he couldn't hold it. Up 2-nil after 1 1/2 innings, Sabathia gave up the lead by the end of the third.
REYNOLDS RAP: The first run given up by Sabathia was to -- who else? -- Mark Reynolds. He nailed a solo shot in the second on a belt-high fastball. In his last five games against the Yankees, he has hit seven homers. To Reynolds' chagrin, the two teams play their final regular-season game against each other on Sunday.
Lew Ford followed Reynolds with a home run of his own and the game was tied.
HARDY BOY: J.J. Hardy has loved hitting against Sabathia in his career -- and it showed Saturday. Entering Saturday, Hardy had a .357 average in 14 at-bats vs. Sabathia. On Saturday, he added an RBI double in the third and a solo homer in the sixth. Ford doubled in a run in the sixth and Sabathia had relinquished the lead, making it 5-2 Baltimore. The question in the postgame may be: Is CC healthy as his velocity is a bit down? I'm sure he will say he is fine, but his pitching is a concern.
MASTER PLAN: Alex Rodriguez's "master plan" calls for playing small ball and for the big guys to lead the way as he challenged his teammates to score six runs per game. Well, in the first, A-Rod hit a sacrifice fly to score Derek Jeter and immediately give Sabathia a one-run lead. Jeter had led off with a single.
In the second, the Yankees put another one-spot on the board, when Ichiro knocked an RBI double. So Sabathia had a two-run advantage.
HUGE CALL: In eighth, against Pedro Strop -- who has trouble against the Yankees, but few others -- Teixeira thought he had ball four on a 3-2. The strikeout was the second out of the inning. Next, A-Rod hit a mammoth homer to center. If Teixeira had walked, it would have changed the situation, so you don't know for sure if Rodriguez would have gone yard, but the call to Teixeira -- which Teixeira complained about it -- was a big deal.
After a Robinson Cano walk and a Russell Martin single, the Yankees were in business.
GRAND PROBLEM: Curtis Granderson then came up in his second big spot of the night, even though he didn't start. With the tying run on base, Granderson popped out against lefty reliever Brian Matusz.
K KING:In the sixth when they were just down a run, the Yankees put two men on, but, against side-winding righty reliever Darren O'Day, the hot-hitting Martin appeared helpless, striking out. Next, the cold-as-ice Curtis Granderson -- who didn't start -- pinch-hit and struck out again, hence the "K King" title of this note. It was the 168th strikeout for Granderson. He had 169 all of last year. His 168 are the second most in baseball behind Adam Dunn, who entered Saturday with 194.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: I will be writing about Sabathia, but will have some Granderson in my column. Granderson has been the biggest problem during the collapse.
WHAT'S NEXT: The series finale with Freddy Garcia (7-6, 5.09 ERA) vs. Zach Britton (5-1, 4.15 ERA). Game time is 1:35 p.m.
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT:What do you think of CC right now?