Brian Matusz pitched quite a good game. After looking terrible his last several times out, he pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits while striking out five. Unfortunately the offense completely let him down and the defense wasn't much better as two unearned runs that scored after Matusz left the game proved to be the difference in the game.
Let's get the offense out of the way first. Corey Patterson, who lately has been hitting like the Corey Patterson we all remembered, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning. That was it for the Orioles scoring. The Orioles got their first hit in the third, a single by Adam Jones, but he was immediately eliminated on a GIDP by the second baseman. Their second base runner came in the fifth when Luke Scott was hit by a pitch with one out, but nothing came of it. Their only chance to take the lead came in the 7th inning and they, naturally, blew it. Nick Markakis lead off with a single but was erased on a fielder's choice by Ty Wigginton. Scott followed Wiggy with a double into the right field corner, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. The Yankees elected to intentionally walk Matt Wieters to load the bases, which brought up Adam Jones.
Jones took a really nice cut on the first pitch and fouled it straight back. He very astutely laid off the second pitch which was low for ball one. The third pitch of the at bat was a little lower than pitch before, but the umpire called it a strike. The fourth pitch of the AB was at about the same height as the two thrown before and Adam swung through it for strike three. Adam chases a lot of pitches so who knows if he would have struck out anyway, but it was a little frustrating watching him show some patience and be penalized for it by a bad call. The next batter grounded out on the first pitch to Derek Jeter and the "rally" was snuffed. The O's got one final base runner in the ninth on a two out single by Luke Scott, but Mariano Rivera retired Matt Wieters to end the game.
Brian Matusz, on the other hand, was not pathetic. I listened to the first part of the game on the radio and Brady Anderson was on with Joe and Fred. He mentioned that he spoke to Brian Matusz before the game and Matusz told him that he'd identified a mechanical issue over his last few starts. It looked like he fixed it, because his pitches were down in the zone for the most part and he was much more effective than he'd shown of late.
Matusz didn't have a 1-2-3 inning all night but didn't allow much damage either. He hit Mark Teixeira in the first inning, walked Francisco Cervelli in the second, allowed a double to Jeter in the third, and a single to Robinson Cano in the fourth, but the Yankees couldn't do anything with them. That wouldn't be the case in the 5th as Curtis Granderson took a fastball over the right field fence for a solo home run. It wasn't an awful pitch. It was up a little in the zone but on the outside half of the plate. That gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead until the next inning when Patterson tied the game.
The Yankees tried their darnedest to take the lead in the 6th inning as Matusz got into trouble. Alex Rodriguez led off with a double and after a Cano single to left field there were runners at first and third with none out. Kranny came out to calm Brian down. It worked as Matusz then induced pop ups from Marcus Thames and Cervelli, then struck out Graderson to end the inning. A great job by Matusz. He wouldn't be so lucky in the 7th.
After striking out Kevin Russo to start the inning, Matusz gave up a single to Jeter and then lost control of the plate, walking Nick Swisher on four pitches. Juan Miranda, who replaced the injured Teixeira, grounded out to Matusz for the second out, moving Jeter and Swisher to second and third.
And with that, Matusz's night was over. And for those of you who say that I am always looking for reasons to trash Dave Trembley, pay close attention here. I think it was the perfect time to take out Matusz. He looked like he'd lost his stuff and Alex Rodriguez was coming to the plate. I also think it was a good move to bring in David Hernandez. I was a little nervous about it, but it was the right move. Hernandez came out of the pen and threw a sinking 95 MPH fastball to A-Rod. It was a great pitch and A-Rod grounded it to third base for what should have been the third out of the inning. Tejada lollygagged the throw, though, and threw it in the dirt to Wiggy who wouldn't handle it. Two runs scored on the play, and those two runs would be enough to give Matusz the loss. Cano flew out to Adam Jones to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Trembley smartly left Hernandez in the game for the 8th inning, and it was the only 1-2-3 inning of the game. Kudos to David Hernandez on a job well done.
Now, Gary Thorne must have said five hundred times that the error lost the Orioles the game. You know, the error was unfortunate. It sucked and it came at the worst possible time. But this loss is squarely on the offense. You cannot score one run against the Yankees (or any team really, but especially the Yankees) and expect anything other than a loss. Two of the runs were unearned, yes, and that is frustrating as hell. But to keep the Yankees to 3 runs over a game is nothing to sneeze at and while Tejada (and to a lesser extent, Wiggy) might be the scapegoat, let's not fool ourselves.