After a surprisingly easy win over Huroki Kuroda and the Yankees last night, the Orioles appeared to pick up where they left off. Though the 2012 Orioles have a richly earned reputation as free swingers, you wouldn't have known it today. Their patience frustrated started David Phelps to the tune of 6 walks in 4.2 IP. And yet, other bad habits that this team has often exhibited manifested themselves again, today. There was the Mark Reynolds pick off, batting 1-7 with runners in scoring position (aided by three key double plays) and, most surprising, a costly bobble by J.J. Hardy in what would prove to be the decisive 7th inning.
The game started brightly as the Orioles scored in the first two innings, backed by 1-2-3 innings from Wei-Yin Chen. The Orioles would tack on another run in the 4th on a Matt Wieters home run, but the Yankees answered with two outs in the bottom of the inning on a Robinson Cano solo shot. As you may recall, Wei-Yin Chen's MLB debut was against the Yankees and it got off to a rough start. Though today was his first career start in Yankee Stadium, he certainly didn't show any signs of jitters. That being said, Chen ran into trouble in the 7th after allowing a single and a walk to the back end of the Yankees lineup. A run scoring single off the bat of Eduardo Nunez with two men down signalled that it was time for Pedro Strop to shut things down. Strop didn't have it today, though, and after walking a couple to bring in the tying run, the ever trusty J.J. Hardy bobbled a grounder off the bat of Nick Swisher which would allow the go ahead run to score. In a moment fraught with tension, LOOGY du jour Brian Matusz stopped the bleeding by getting Robinson Cano to fly out on a hittable pitch in a full count.
It would end up being for naught, though. The Orioles bats failed to generate any sort of meaningful pressure in the 8th and 9th and the 6 men left on base would come back to haunt them. Can't help but think the O's let one get away here, but tomorrow's another day. In a duel between former top prospects, Chris Tillman will face Phil Hughes as the O's attempt to stay within two games of the Yankees.