08 October 2012

ALDS Game One: Orioles 2, Yankees 7

Orioles. Yankees. The two teams fought until the bitter end for the AL East title, and now square off in the AL Division Series. New York sent ace CC Sabathia to the mound, while the O's countered with Jason Hammel, who was their best pitcher this year but had barely appeared in the Majors in the last two months (though Hammel did have a slightly lower FIP this year, 3.29 vs. 3.33). Even playing in Baltimore, the match-ups probably favored the Yankees.

The Good:

  • Jason Hammel's command was shaky (he left some balls up in the zone, and mostly got away with it) and so was his control (walked 4). But he had some movement on his pitches and some giddy-up on his fastball (down a tick from his 2012 average, but still 92-94), and was able to minimize the damage. Like with Joe Saunders on Friday, Buck stayed with Hammel longer than I (and many, judging by the comments on Twitter) thought was prudent, and once again it worked out fine. Can't complain too much about 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 5 K. It was good enough that I'd be comfortable seeing Hammel make a potential Game Five start.
  • Darren O'Day continued his fantastic season, coming in with two on and none out and getting Jeter (who bunted), Ichiro (with Andino throwing to Wieters to cut a run down at the plate), and A-Rod (K'ed him swinging).
  • Brian Matusz followed O'Day, walking Teixeira but striking out a pair (Swisher, Granderson) in pitching a scoreless 8th.
  • Nate McLouth had another clutch hit, driving in two runs to give the O's an early 2-1 lead. 
  • Chris Davis picked up a couple hits against Sabathia, and made some nice plays in right-field (including fielding a bounce off the scoreboard and gunning the runner down at second).
  • Lew Ford had two hits as well - one a double.
The Bad:
  • Troy Patton only retired one of the four batters he faced, walking the first two batters of the 7th inning before being pulled. His teammates picked him up though.
  • With the game tied going into the 9th, Buck went to Jim Johnson* to face the bottom of the Yankees' order. Given that CC had saved the NY pen completely at that point, I probably would have left Matusz in there (and first guessed this decision). Lead-off better Russell Martin took JJ deep for the game-winning home run. Then four more hits to pile on and make it 7-2. He retired one batter. Not a good night for Johnson, following the "interesting" outing he had in Texas. He could have picked a better time for the regression to hit.
  • The O's had multiple opportunities against Sabathia (including a lead-off double by JJ Hardy in the 8th), but just couldn't get the runs across when they needed to. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters were a combined 0-8 - the Birds need those guys to produce in this series.
* Just want to note that the problem isn't that it wasn't a save situation - using a closer in a tie game is generally somewhere between fine and good - but that Matusz should have been able to pitch another inning and saving Johnson for the next inning in case the game went to extras might have made more sense. It is funny that we've gone from "Jim Johnson doesn't have the closer mentality - he can't pitch in save situations" to "Jim Johnson can only pitch in save situations".

The Final:

Given that it was tied going into the later innings, this was a game the Orioles had to win. No matter the O's record on the road and in New York this year, winning both games in Baltimore was very big for them in this series. Just a huge punch in the gut in that 9th inning. Go get 'em tomorrow, I guess. As Jeff Sullivan said, the "Orioles [are] in position to win the series with a negative run differential". I'd take that.

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