I really wanted to be able to vote Xavier Avery tonight's Most Birdland Player, but since they lost, you'll have to settle for this picture of his first hit.
Tonight's game felt bad. It felt like the kind of losing that a bad team does. The starting pitcher couldn't make it past the fifth inning, there were errors in the field, and the bullpen was ineffective. I don't like that kind of loss. I don't want to see it again.
The first inning of the game was promising when, after O's starter Jason Hammel needed just thirteen pitches in the top of the inning, the offense scored two in the bottom. Xavier Avery started off the game with his first major-league hit, a double, and then scored on a single by J.J. Hardy. Hardy himself scored on a double by Adam Jones, and Yankees starter Ivan Nova wasn't looking good.
That's where the scored remained until the top of the fourth inning. Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano singled to start the inning and then Mark Teixeira hit a ground ball to first base. "First baseman" Chris Davis couldn't field the ball to start a double play, so both runners moved up as Davis could only go to the bag for one out. With two runners in scoring position, Nick Swisher smoked a ball to the outfield to tie the game.
The Yankees took the lead in the top of the fifth inning on a monster home run by Curtis Granderson. If you saw Josh Hamilton's home run the other night that bounced on Eutaw Street and hit the warehouse on a bounce, it looked a lot like that.
he lead didn't last long, though. In the O's half of the inning, Robert Andino walked and scored on Xavery's second hit of the night and his big-league career, a triple to right field. Wow, that Xavery can fly! He was able to jog leisurely to home plate after that, though, scoring ahead of Hardy on his 9th home run of the year. J.J! That gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead and, as a fan, I was feeling good.
It didn't last long.
In the top of the sixth inning, the rain was pouring down. It looked like there would have to be a delay, but the umpires must have had word from the grounds crew that the rain was moving through because they kept going. Cano doubled, then Hammel completely lost the strike zone, walking Teixeira and Swisher to load the bases with no outs. Showalter finally pulled Hammel, and his replacement, Luis Ayala, induced a ground ball to first base. It could be a double play! Oh, wait! No. Instead it went right past Davis at first and two runs scored to tied game. Chris Davis!!! (this is where you imagine me shaking my fist at the TV)
Ayala pulled a Houdini act after that, getting three outs without allowing another run. It was a minor miracle, but one we all forgot about quickly when Teixeira launched a two-run homer off of him the next inning to make the score 7-5.
As the Yankees bullpen shut down the Orioles for the rest of the night, Dana Eveland was brought in to pitch against the Yankees. It wasn't pretty. The first two batters of the eighth inning reached on a single and a phantom hit by pitch, where Martin MAY have been grazed by a pitch but who took first like a petulant child before a call was made and refused to leave. So the umps, indulging the Yankees like a spoiled child, let him stay there. Eveland didn't allow a run thanks to a double play from Jeter, but it wasn't pretty.
The Yankees added a final run in the 9th inning as Eveland was walking guys and hitting guys and giving up sac flies. He couldn't even finish the inning as Darren O'Day had to come in for the final out. THAT'S the pitcher the Orioles kept in favor of Stu Pomeranz.
The Orioles really made a mess of things in this one, and it wasn't the loss that got to me, but the way that it happened. Hopefully they can get their acts together and put together a strong showing tomorrow in the last game of the gauntlet.