The Orioles lost their sixth game in a row tonight, an absolutely heartbreaking affair that featured Freddy Garcia outpitching CC Sabathia, an umpire screwing up two calls at first base in favor of the Yankees, a late inning comeback by the Orioles, and Jim Johnson's third consecutive blown save.
I honestly don't know what to think about Johnson right now. On one hand, three games is a small sample size and all players have bad days. On the other hand, it raises speculation that he might be hurt, which of course none of can know anything about. I don't doubt JJ's skill or ability to be an awesome pitcher. He seems like an emotionally strong dude, but at what point does this kind of thing become a self-fulfilling prophecy? It's a tough situation. I think it's too early to pull him (unless he's injured, of course), but how long until he's straight?
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Recapping backwards, if you will. Let's start with the beginning.
Freddy Garcia gave up just one hit in the first inning, unfortunately it happened to be a home run to Robinson Cano. He also gave up just one hit in the second inning. It was a home run to David Adams, someone whose name I had never heard before today. Just like the that Yankees had an early lead, and with CC Sabathia on the mound, it was enough to make a person worry.
Chris Davis cut the lead in half in the bottom of the second inning with his 13th home run of the year. It was pretty, a shot to center field that cut the lead to 2-1.
After giving up a homer with one out in the second inning, Garcia retired the next eight batters he faced, giving the Orioles time to come back and tie the game. Steve Pearce doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth, then came around to score on an RBI single by Nick Markakis. J.J. Hardy, who was batting third tonight due to his career numbers against Sabathia, also doubled in the inning, but both he and Markakis were stranded as Manny Machado and Adam Jones could do nothing to help. Both Machado and Jones had rough nights, going a combined 1-for-10.
Garcia got into some trouble in the top of the sixth inning, and a botched play by first base umpire Eric Cooper didn't help matters. Garcia walked Brett Gardner with one out, and Gardner was dancing all over the place at first. He got a really big lead at first and Matt Wieters snapped a throw to first. Gardner was undeniably out, but was called safe. Garcia lost his way for a bit after the injustice and walked Cano. Thankfully second baseman Alexi Casilla was able to make a really sweet play on a tough ground ball by Travis Hafner to start a double play. It was Casilla's second good play on the night. He is a lot of fun to watch out there.
Eric Cooper was back at it in the bottom of the sixth inning. After Chris Davis singled, Matt Wieters hit a soft ground ball to third base. Now, we all know that Wieters cannot run. He is as slow as molasses in January (as my 7th grade science teacher Mr. Foster used to say). But Wieters was busting it down the line and beat the throw. An infield hit....until Cooper called him out. Wieters, who is normally a very reserved player, couldn't believe it. He jumped around at first base, jawing at the umpire until Buck Showalter came out to argue his case. I don't have a picture of that one, but all replays showed that he was safe. The Orioles did not score in the inning.
Showalter took out Garcia after six innings and just 66 pitches. A questionable move, certainly, but not one that I think was a terrible idea. You never know when things might fall apart for Garcia, it was a tie game, and the Yankees lineup had seven lefties in it. Showalter turned to Troy Patton, who isn't quite as magical this season as he was in 2012. The very first batter, Lyle Overbay, homered to give the Yankees the lead back.
As the Yankee fans in attendance jumped around and screamed and were generally super annoying, the O's offense proved that it wasn't finished yet. Sabathia had quieted them for the most part, but that was about to end. Alexi Casilla, who came into the game 14-24 lifetime against Sabathia, got hit number fifteen to lead off the inning, a single up the middle. Next up was Markakis. Nick got his second RBI of the night by driving a double to left field. If you haven't seen Casilla run the bases, it is a treat. He can fly. It looked like he might stop at third, but Granderson bobbled the ball and Casilla scored easily to tie the game.
Machado hit a ground ball for out number one, then Hardy stepped to the plate. J.J. has turned it on lately (although I'm still waiting for the OBP to creep above .300) and he did it again this time. A solid double to right field knocked in Markakis and the O's were back on top. The hit knocked Sabathia from the game, and relief pitcher Shawn Kelley struck out Jones and Wieters (with a Davis IBB in between) to end the inning.
Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth inning and looked pretty good doing so, and after the Orioles failed to score any insurance runs in the ninth it was up to Jim Johnson. Well, we all know that he blew it.
I didn't catch it during the game, but word on the Twitter is that Johnson shook Wieters off the pitch before he gave up the homer to Hafner. How much of a difference that makes I don't know, but given the accolades that Wieters receives regularly regarding his game calling, it's worth noting.
Overbay followed the Hafner homer with a single, but Johnson got out of the inning without any further damage. The O's went quietly in the bottom of the 9th against David Robertson other than an infield single and stolen base by Jones, and Pedro Strop came in to pitch the tenth inning.
It did not go well.
Back-to-back doubles to start the inning gave the Yankees the only run they needed to win the game, but they tacked on another one with two outs for good measure. The bottom of the tenth brought with it Mariano Rivera, and that was that. The Orioles went 1-2-3 to seal the loss and the misery of the team and the fans continues.