Well, that sucked.
The good news is that there's no shortage of evidence of the Orioles picking themselves up after a tough loss and coming back out and winning the very next day. Indeed, they demonstrated this very resilience twice against the Yankees in the ALDS last season, winning Game 2 after a painful Game 1 loss at home, and winning Game 4 to force the 5th game after a painful Game 3 loss in extra innings on the road.
Today they must do it again following that awful three-run error and the triple play that had literally never been seen in MLB history before. These are the games they must win: head-to-head matchups with the injury-depleted Yankees. Put distance on them before players get healthy. It must be done. One slipped away yesterday, and that can't happen again today.
More good news is they won't have to contend with CC Sabathia again today. Prior to the 1996 season, I had a Social Studies teacher who jokingly predicted the Orioles would have a 159-3 record "because they'll run into Andy Pettitte or David Cone." Well, Pettitte's still around and won't be pitching in this series, and Sabathia is a good enough pitcher to be in that category. Sometimes you are not likely to win when Sabathia is on his game. It would have been nice had Jones not made that error, had the O's taken a run at the Yankees bullpen, but that's life.
The prime antagonist today will be Yankees starter Phil Hughes. It seems hard to believe, but this is Hughes' final season before he becomes a free agent. He's coming off a decent 2012 in which he posted a 4.23 ERA, which somehow netted him a 16-13 record. He also surrendered 35 home runs in 191.1 IP. That's a lot of home runs.
Given that Hughes is a righty, you might like Chris Davis' chances today, but last year Hughes gave up 24 of those homers to righty batters. In fact, righties had a .928 OPS against Hughes in 2012, with lefties only posting a .610 OPS against him. Adam Jones could launch a ball eight miles to atone for yesterday's mistake - or, trying too hard, he could accumulate a Pearcean golden sombrero.
It's Jason Hammel taking the mound for the Orioles. Sporting a 4.97 ERA through two starts, he hasn't gotten great results thus far, despite allowing less than one base runner per inning he's pitched. One thing he hasn't done yet is get many strikeouts. Part of what made Hammel successful last year is the strikeouts, nearly a batter per inning. This year he has 5 in 12.2 IP. He's also only getting 30% ground balls so far when last year he got over 50% grounders.
So if Yankees batters are racking up the whiffs and burning up the worms, that should be a good sign for the day. If not, things could get a bit dicier. It's only the 11th game of the year, so we can't call it must-win, but it's should-win, and if they lose enough should-win games that'll make the must-win stretch arrive that much sooner.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Brett Gardner - CF|
|Manny Machado - 3B||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Kevin Youkilis - 3B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Travis Hafner - DH|
|Chris Davis - 1B||Vernon Wells - LF|
|Matt Wieters - C||Ichiro Suzuki - RF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||Francisco Cervelli - C|
|Ryan Flaherty - 2B||Lyle Overbay - 1B|
|Nolan Reimold - DH||Jayson Nix - SS|