12 October 2012

ALDS Game Four: Orioles 2, Yankees 1

Elimination game. Joe Saunders on the mound. The Orioles had the Yankees right where they wanted them.

The Good:
  • Joe Saunders did it again, pitching around just enough guys to not have it come back to bite him while inducing a couple double plays (including one on a long flyball that Nate McLouth made a great catch on and was able to double off a runner). Can't complain at all about 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 5 K. The best part was probably Saunders striking out Derek Jeter after a lengthy at bat, and then following up by K'ing Ichiro and Mark Teixeira.
  • The bullpen came through. Tommy Hunter blew 97 mph fastballs by A-Rod. Troy Patton got Curtis Granderson. Luis Ayala managed to strand some inherited runners. Brian Matusz got Robbie Cano. Darren O'Day is the best (2.2 scoreless, K'ing A-Rod again - third time in the series). Pedro Strop showed that he was not only still alive, but why he was counted as one of the team's better relievers early in the season with 2 scoreless of his own (with 2 K's). And Jim Johnson closed it out.
  • If you knew that the Orioles had given an outfielder almost $90 M this year, based on this series you'd have sworn that it was to Nate McLouth and not Adam Jones. Beyond the defense, McLouth homered, doubled, and walked at the plate. You could argue that he's been the best position player on either team so far. Nate McLouth!
  • Manny Machado - all of 20 years old - not some of the best at bats on the team. He worked a walk early, and then lead off the 13th with a double before scoring the winning run on JJ Hardy's own two-bagger.
The Bad:
  • The offense is still almost entirely a black hole. Chris Davis struck out 3 times and looks not very much like he did during his hot streak to end the season. Adam Jones looks completely lost. Matt Wieters might be close to doing something, but is just off enough to keep popping out (or popping one down the third-base line for a hit). Jim Thome getting benched for Lew Ford might be the right call at this point, as Thome can't seem to actually hit anymore and some of the ball/strike calls are making his plate discipline not so useful. Hard to say if Mark Reynolds is slumping or not, because him taking an 0-fer and K'ing twice isn't exactly "new" - hope he runs into one at some point though.
The Final:

Extra-innings again, and this time the Orioles held strong, eventually scraping one run out and making it stand up. This series has been unbelievably close, with either team easily having been able to sweep in three games if a break had gone their way in each game.

And so it comes down to Game Five. Jason Hammel (3.43 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 3.46 xFIP) going up against CC Sabathia (3.38 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.20 xFIP). Can the Orioles continue the Magic?

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