Pop quiz, hotshot: last inning, you got two quick outs and then walked the bases loaded. Your bacon was saved only when Mark Teixeira inexplicably swung at the first pitch, bouncing an easy grounder down to first base. In the top half of this inning, your teammates strung together four hits to put you ahead 2-1. For the previous five innings they were no-hit, making it clear that you might be lucky to have this one-run lead at all. Now you’re pitching again and Brian McCann has just singled.
What do you do. WHAT DO YOU DO?
If you’re Ubaldo Jimenez, you walk a batter to put a runner in scoring position, you hold your breath as Manny Machado dives to snare an Ichiro pop bunt, you cheer as Chris Davis gloves a sky-high pop-up near the stands, and then you … walk another batter, your sixth, to load the bases. You then get yanked from the game and watch T.J. McFarland get Brett Gardner to ground into the third out.
You hopefully then use some of your sweet, sweet free agent money to buy McFarland a house on the beach.
Yes indeed Orioles fans, it was another Ubaldo Jimenez walk-a-thon tonight. He looked okay to start the game, although he gave up a run-scoring double to Teixeira in the first inning. Aside from the free passes, he was mostly victimized by the Yankees’ speed demons freely running on him and Nick Hundley. But, yeah. You thought walking five batters was bad? Jimenez said, "I’ll show you", and walked six, twice loading the bases. But he (and later, McFarland) worked out of those jams just enough to squeak through six innings with just the one run allowed.
Squeaking was needed because for five innings, the Orioles couldn’t get a hit off Hiroki Kuroda. They struck out six times and had just two baserunners: Hundley reached on an error in the third, and Nelson Cruz walked in the fifth. That changed in the sixth when Hundley banged a leadoff double to not only end the no-no, but also put a runner in scoring position. He did just that (scored, that is) when Steve Pearce slapped another double to bring him home. The runaround continued when Adam Jones singled home Pearce, and all of a sudden it was 2-1 Orioles.
And then Ubaldo decided to give us all heart attacks and make us to say bad words. Curse you, Ubaldo. But McFarland worked out of the jam and threw another 1 2/3 perfect innings to boot. There was some additional drama in the eighth, when Alfonso Soriano and Brian Roberts singled with two outs against Darren O’Day. O’Day went 3-2 on Yangervis Solarte but got him to fly out easily to left.
Steve Pearce came through again in the top of the ninth. Jonathan Schoop reached on an error by that same Solarte, was sacrificed to second, and then moved to third when Nick Markakis rifled a ball off of pitcher David Huff’s foot. Pearce then dropped a sinking line drive into center field, just in front of a diving Jacoby Ellsbury, for a base hit and it was 3-1 Orioles.
Enter the ninth inning, and Zach Britton came in to get the save. He’s been so excellent this year, but tonight wasn’t his night. First, Brett Gardner singled. Orioles fans tensed up, but Derek Jeter struck out and Jacoby Ellsbury flew out. Things looked good. But then Britton walked Teixeira and Brian McCann singled, bringing Gardner home and making it 3-2. Britton nibbled to Beltran before firing a high sinker that sunk right into the hitting zone, and Beltran slammed a three-run walkoff dinger to put the Yankes over the top 5-3.
Ugh. Well, technically I don’t get to do an MBP poll, but what a job by McFarland. He held the Yankees off the basepaths when it counted the most. By Win Probability Added, he just put in the best Orioles relief appearance of the entire season. And while we’re at it, let’s hear it for Steve Pearce. With a BABIP nearly 100 points higher than his career level, he is punching well above his weight and will begin to slide if used regularly. But tonight he was the team’s catalyst, justifying Buck’s decision to bat him second.
Some words of wisdom from one in attendance:
Happens. Now dust yourself off and bring it again tomorrow #StayHungry— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) June 21, 2014