Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Orioles 3, Yankees 2
By Wallace Matthews
BALTIMORE -- Just when you think these Birds are plucked, stuffed and ready for roasting, they come back to make things interesting. A combination of a couple of timely hits and tidy pitching, plus some more failure with runners in scoring position by the Yankees ties this series at a game apiece -- and sets up a potentially difficult question for Joe Girardi later this week, to wit: What happens if you lose Game 3? Do you stick with Phil Hughes to save the season? Or bring back CC Sabathia on short rest?
Suddenly, this ALDS has gotten ver-r-r-r-r-y interesting.
Second act: A night after his ninth-inning Game 1 meltdown in which he allowed five runs and took the loss, Orioles closer Jim Johnson got another chance tonight and redeemed himself with a 1-2-3 ninth to nurse a one-run lead. Fittingly enough, Johnson struck out Alex Rodriguez to end the game.
Dandy Andy: In his 43rd postseason start, 40-year-old Andy Pettitte pitched six excellent innings and one not-so-good one, but with the Yankees offensively-challenged once again, that was enough to cost him, and them, the game.
Lost opportunity: The Yankees had a great chance to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh when they got a leadoff double from Eduardo Nunez followed by an RBI single by Derek Jeter to cut the Orioles' lead to 3-2. But Ichiro Suzuki grounded into a force out for the first out, and side-arming reliever Darren O'Day came on to strike out Alex Rodriguez. Buck Showalter went to lefty Brian Matusz to intentionally walk Robinson Cano and then, with runners on second and third after a wild pitch, Matusz got Nick Swisher to pop up a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
Reynolds rap: Yankees killer Mark Reynolds, who had seven home runs against them this year, did some more damage tonight, singling in Matt Wieters with a bleeder that just eluded Cano's glove to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning.
Third degree: After retiring the first eight batters he faced, Pettitte ran into trouble with two out in the third, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk after losing command of the strike zone. Chris Davis' two-run single accounted for both runs and Pettitte and the Yankees got a break when J.J. Hardy stopped at third on Adam Jones' single under Jeter's glove, when it appeared he easily could have scored. A-Rod may have contributed to Hardy's hesitation by pretending to be receiving a throw from the outfield. No, he did not shout "Ha!"
Roger, over and out: When Pettitte struck out Davis to end the first inning, he moved ahead of Roger Clemens into sole possession of second place on the all-time postseason strikeout list with 174.
RISP alert! The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the fourth on singles by Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson wrapped around a walk by Russell Martin, and failed to score when Nunez lined out softly to short and Jeter bounced out to third. Through the first four innings, the Yankees were 1-for-5 w/RISP, the one being Granderson's single, which moved the runners to second and third but failed to score any.
Now you see him ... : ... now you don't. Although the throw home beat him by about 10 feet, Ichiro put some slippery moves on Orioles catcher Wieters to score the Yankees' first run, using a hip feint to elude the tag and then scampering around Wieters to slip a hand onto home plate after Cano's bullet of a double into the right-field corner. Buck Showalter came out to argue that Ichiro ran out of the baseline and the fans at Camden Yards were incensed, but the call stood and the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Obviously all that pregame stretching is paying off for Ichiro.
Hard luck: Just before the Ichiro play, A-Rod had what looked like an RBI single turned into a slick double play by second baseman Robert Andino, who dived, plucked A-Rod's liner off the ground and flipped to shortstop Hardy to double off Jeter (leadoff single), who was already rounding third.
Glove hurts: There were four errors in the game, two by each team, but only one, Reynolds' error on Ichiro's first-inning grounder, led to a run. The others -- Jeter's throwing error in the fourth, Hardy's muff of Martin's sixth-inning grounder and Teixeira's boot of Nate McLouth's grounder in the fifth -- were no blood, no foul.
Unfriendly skies: The start of tonight's game was delayed by 40 minutes after a rainstorm that began about 20 minutes before the original first pitch time of 8:07 p.m. Game time temperature was announced as 51 degrees, but it certainly felt colder on the field and in the open Camden Yards press box.
Towel time: Each of the 48,187 fans who came into Camden tonight were given white towels to wave instead of last night's orange, a potentially unfortunate choice considering the white towel is the universal symbol of surrender.
What's next: A day off for the Yankees after the late train ride home. Girardi and Game 3 starter Hiroki Kuroda will be available to the media Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium and your crack ESPNNewYork.com Yankees beat staff will be there to report all the news, so check in later. Thanks.