You could argue that going into any game against the New York Yankees, that the deck is stacked against the Baltimore Orioles. That certainly was true tonight, with the O's facing the Yankees ace with their 5th starter (when Matusz returns) on the mound.
Over the last decade when the O's have hosted the Yankees, and Red Sox, those two fan-bases have routinely come to Oriole Park at Camden Yards in droves. We all understand why that has occurred. The Orioles on-field product has been poor, and the tickets in Baltimore (even when including hotel stay) have been a relative bargain compared to what is available in their home-stadiums. When these games have been played, you can feel the electricity within the stadium ratcheted-up a notch. The opposing fans are excited as they have anticipated watching a win, while the home crowd is anxious and nervous about what they are going to see.
Like I said, I totally understand why this happened over and over again during the last decade. This year should be different though. There is enough talent on the O's, that even if they are still not ready to compete with the Yankees (and Boston) over 162 games, they should not just be mulled over in their home park.
It is not that the O's did not play hard tonight. Or that the results tonight are necessarily an indication of things to come. However, if you want to show your divisional foes (and yourself, and your fan-base) that things have changed; you have to change the results on the field.
1) Lee struck-out to end the 1st, but he did see 8 pitches. Considering Roberts and Markakis had seen just 4 in their ab's, this was a small victory. In the 4th, Lee gave the O's their first hit with a rocket to LF, and added a second hit in the 7th.
2) In the 2nd, Bergesen struck-out Granderson to end the inning with Gardner on 2nd base. Obviously does not wind-up being important in a 15-3 loss, but it was important at the time with Teixeira, and Rodriguez coming-up next. In the 3rd, Bergesen quickly sat down Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Cano on 5 pitches. In the 5th, Bergesen got of the mound in a hurry to field a swinging bunt by Granderson. He made another good play to end the 6th.
3) Roberts has a horrible UZR/150 rating to start the year, but he made an excellent play at 2nd to start the 3rd. I think he is closer to average than the numbers currently show.
4) Fox made a nice catch in LF during the 4th.
5) Andino made a very nice play on Jeter playing the short-hop to start the 5th. In the 6th he gave the O's their 2nd hit with a solid liner to CF. In the 7th he ranged deep in the hole to start an inning ending double-play.In the 9th he was moved to 2nd and showed range going towards 1st.
6) Markakis helped set-up the 7th inning homer from Jones, by having a good team ab, and taking a walk to start the inning.
7) Adam Jones gave the O's a chance to get back into the game with his 3 run bomb, again showing his opposite-field power.
1) 10 pitches into the game, the Yankees were up 2-0. That included the single by Jeter, and doubles from Teixeira, and Rodriguez. Before the O's had batted, Bergesen had thrown 26 pitches and the O's were down 3-0. Bergesen's final line was 6 innings, 8 hits, 6 er, 1 hr, 2 bb's, with 4 k's. After the 1st, he calmed down and had an effective 2nd through 5th, but the start and finish were both fairly brutal.
2) The 6th inning started with a hit from Swisher, and a walk to Posada. With Sabathia dealing (and the O's doing nothing) it was clear that the O's could not afford to let up any additional runs in that situation. I think the walk to Posada was a good indication that it was time to remove Bergesen. He stayed in to face Martin, who deposited a 3 run homer into the LF seats. Now down 6-0 any come-back was going to be substantially harder for the Birds.
1) It took Sabathia just 27 pitches to record 9 outs to start the game.
2) Berken had been excellent before tonight, but the 8th inning tonight for him and the Birds was as ugly as they come. Berken allowed Posada's 6th homer of the year (and 9th hit) on an 84 mph slider on the inner half of the plate. You have to make him go opposite field in that situation. Martin connected on his 2nd homer of the night with an absolute moon-shot, blasted 414 feet away. Rapada relieves Bereken, and after making a good defensive play on Gardner, walks Jeter, allows a hit to Granderson, and walks Teixeira. He gives way to Rupe, who allows a Grand Slam to Rodriguez.
2a) This sent the New York fans who were in attendance into delirium, and you wonder what it did for the O's seemingly fragile self-esteem.
3) I'm not sure Rupe was head hunting, but too miss that much with a guy (Martin) that had homered twice seemed awfully coincidental. Allowing the HR to Gardner only capped the night.
The O's have fallen to 8-11, and are now 4.5 games behind the Yankees within the division. A beating like the one absorbed tonight can stay with a team for awhile. I think it is important for Arrieta and the O's to play well tomorrow. Already down 0-3 in the season series vs. New York, Baltimore needs to rebound from tonight for their own mindset. A win tomorrow, with Monday off, and Boston coming in after that sounds a lot better than the alternative.
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Lifelong. Down by the river.
Lifelong. Down by the river.