Written by Bruce Smith
The Orioles and Yankees faced off Friday night in the opener of a three game weekend series in the Bronx. The Orioles lost a heartbreaker on a walk off three run home run by Carlos Beltran. The final score was 5-3. All the gory details can be found below, but I warn you this game wasn’t for the faint of heart. The Orioles fell to 37-35 on the season.
Due to the temporary six man rotation and off day, Ubaldo Jimenez started for the Orioles for the second straight Friday. Jimenez started the game really well striking out Brett Gardner on three pitches and getting a weak grounder back to the mound from Derek Jeter. However, Jacoby Ellsbury got an infield single, stole second, and scored on a looping double to right from Mark Teixeira to put the Orioles behind in the first inning.
The Yanks loaded the bases in the 2nd inning on a double, grounder through the 3-4 hole, and a walk, but Gardner hit a weak fly ball to center and Jones threw out an amazingly slow Carlos Beltran at home plate. Beltran used to be able to run really well so he is either hurt or the knee injuries have completely sapped his speed.
Jimenez had one of those almost unwatchable innings in the 5th tonight. He started the inning 2-0 on Brian Roberts who grounded out on the next pitch. He then got behind Yangervis Solarte 3-1, but got out number two on a fly ball in another hitter’s count. Jimenez then proceeded to throw 12 balls out of the next 15 pitches to walk the bases loaded. So, at that point, Jimenez had thrown 23 pitches in the inning and 17 of them were balls. Jimenez continued to be difficult to square up though as Teixeira grounded out on the first pitch with the bases loaded to leave the score at 1-0.
The Orioles got Jimenez the lead in the sixth inning by a score of 2-1. Jimenez decided that shut down innings after your team gives you the lead are apparently overrated and tried to walk the world again in the bottom of the 6th. The first two hitters reached on a single and a walk. I couldn’t believe it when the Yankees gave the wild right hander a free out by trying to bunt Suzuki who proceeded to pop it up. Brian Roberts got ahead 2-0 but then popped up himself. At that point, I was ready to start identifying Jimenez as “The Magician”. Not to be outdone on the absurdity meter, Jimenez got ahead 0-2 on the number nine hitter before throwing four straight balls to walk the bases loaded again. I guess Buck had seen enough of “The Magician’s” show because he hooked him quickly. TJ McFarland was able to retire Gardner to leave the bases loaded for the second straight inning.
Jimenez’s final line was 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 3 K and the no decision. Twelve batters reached base and Jimenez recorded 17 outs including two on the bases which is just an awful ratio, yet he gave up a single run. It was one of the more amazing performances I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Jimenez won’t win many games if he continues to walk this many people game-after-game.
TJ McFarland had his best outing of the year. He relieved Jimenez with the bases loaded and got a ground out to end the sixth. McFarland threw his sinker near the knees and showed a nice slider over a two inning outing. All six outs he recorded were hit into the ground as he effectively took the fly ball out of play.
Darren O’Day came in with nobody on and two out in the 8th inning and gave everyone a scare when he gave up singles to the first two batters he faced. He retired the next hitter on a weak fly ball to left field to prevent any runs from scoring.
Zach Britton relieved in the 9th inning and had an uncharacteristically tough outing. He gave up a cheap hit to Gardner to start the inning. After retiring Jeter on a strikeout and Ellsbury on a weak fly ball, it appeared Britton was going to be fine. However, he got to a 2-2 count on Teixeira and appeared to overthrow the next two pitches which led to the dreaded two out walk of the tying run. McCann hit a solid single to center to knock in run number two and bring up Beltran with two on and two out. Britton fell behind 3-1 as he continued to overthrow. Beltran was looking for a ball up and he got one shoulder high on the 3-1 pitch. He proceeded to massacre a long three run home run for the walk off win. Britton clearly got tight in Yankee stadium in his first ever save situation in the Bronx and, when he tried to muscle the ball, he lost his movement and location on a few critical pitches.
The Orioles faced Hideki Kuroda tonight. I’ve seen Kuroda throw the ball really well against the Orioles and make it very difficult to square up the ball. Tonight, I didn’t think Kuroda had very impressive stuff or location, but he still held the Orioles hitless through five innings. The Orioles didn’t square up the ball and several of the hitters didn’t appear to have much of a game plan against the Japanese righty. The Orioles were flailing at a lot of pitches off the plate and just didn’t give themselves much of a chance the first five innings.
The Orioles got going in the sixth inning when Nick Hundley laced a fastball into the right-center field gap for a double to start the inning. After Markakis flew out to left field, the Orioles’ hottest hitter, Steve Pearce, got the Orioles on the board with a ringing double to left field to tie the game. Adam Jones followed with a soft single to right to score Pearce and give the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
The Orioles picked up an insurance run in the 9th inning. Jonathan Schoop reached on an error to start the inning. Ryan Flaherty sacrificed him to second base and Nick Markakis hit a grounder that was headed for centerfield until the pitcher knocked it down to limit him to an infield single. Steve Pearce came through again as he hit a hard liner to centerfield for a single to knock in Schoop and give the Orioles a 3-1 lead.
Ryan Flaherty made a nice diving play on a hard liner up the middle but momentarily bobbled it and was unable to throw out Jacoby Ellsbury in the first. He immediately stole a base and was knocked in by a Teixiera double.
Nick Hundley appears to have basically no arm at all behind the plate. He made an absolutely awful throw in the first on a ball that appeared to slip, but then made another one hop weak throw to yield a stolen base to Brian Roberts in the 2nd. Hundley had better luck in his third attempt to throw out a runner in the 4th inning when he barely nabbed Ichiro Suzuki. It was a perfect pitch to throw on and Suzuki has seriously slowed down, but the good guys got an out so we’re all happy. Gardner then easily stole a base in the 5th inning on another poor throw. I’m not digging our chances at remotely limiting the running game with Hundley behind the plate.
Manny Machado made a nice diving catch on the attempted Suzuki bunt in the 6th inning for the first out. Ryan Flaherty showed nice range when he flagged a hard grounder up the middle and flipped to second to end the 6th inning as the Yanks left the bases loaded for the 2nd straight inning.
Key Moments In The Game
Adam Jones threw out Carlos Beltran trying to score on a short fly ball out. Beltran was out by about five steps. It was an important moment, because the Yanks were crazy enough to run themselves out of an inning on a real longshot. I’ve discussed it here because, while Jones made a good throw, it wasn’t really a difficult play.
Jimenez did his best to give the Yankees multiple runs on just one hit when he walked the bases loaded in the fifth inning, but Teixeira grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the threat. It was a clear momentum swing and the Orioles opened the next inning with four hits from the first five hitters to take the lead 2-1.
The biggest moment of the game was the walk to Teixeira in the 9th inning in my opinion. Britton tightened up on the 2-2 and 3-2 pitches to give up the walk and put the tying run on base with two outs. You could feel his confidence wane when it happened and the resulting home run almost felt pre-ordained.
I’m exhausted. It was a 3:38 game and we lost to the Yankees on a walk-off. I need a beer.
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