After a spectacular loss on Friday, the Orioles came to the ballpark today looking to rebound with a win. It turns out the cure for their ills was waiting for them, and that cure was Yankees starter Phil Hughes. Hughes gave up all five runs that the Orioles scored in the game and only recorded nine outs on the day before being pulled. Jason Hammel, the O's starter, was good enough to secure the win and even the series at 1-1.
The Orioles didn't waste any time jumping on Hughes as leadoff hitter Nate McLouth hit the second pitch he saw to left field for a double. Manny Machado followed that with a bunt that I have to admit was a head scratcher. It could have been that Manny was trying for a hit since he made it close at first, so that's what I'm choosing to believe that it was, evne though it was scored as a sacrifice. Nick Markakis followed that with a walk, and then Adam Jones grounded out. It looked like it might be a double play, but Markakis slid hard into second base and Robinson Cano couldn't make the throw to first. McLouth came in to score on the play and give the O's a lead.
With two outs, Hughes walked Chris Davis, but Matt Wieters grounded out to end the inning. Wieters has definitely cooled down from his hot start to the season, and hopefully he'll be back on track soon.
After Jason Hammel had an easy 1-2-3 first inning, the Orioles added on another run in the second. This one came from an unlikely source, Ryan Flaherty. It was Flaherty's first plate appearance since game two of the Red Sox series, and he made the most of it with a home run to left field. Flaherty showed some pop in his bat in 2012, but this was his first sign of it this season.
With two outs, McLouth singled for his second hit of the game, but he was thrown out to end the inning trying to score. Manny Machado singled to right field and McLouth tried to score on the play. He was thrown out by a mile, a bad send by the third base coach for sure.
The Yankees tied the game in the second inning thanks in part to an error from the normally very reliable J.J. Hardy. But before that happened, Hammel gave up a home run to new Yankee Travis Hafner. Hafner looks noticeably less beefy than when he was in his prime with Cleveland, but he can still hit the ball a long way. Then with two outs, Francisco Cervelli hit a ground ball to Hardy. Hardy fielded it easily but then made a bad throw that skipped past Chris Davis at first base. Cerveilli ended up on second and then came into score the Yankees' second run on a single from Lyle Overbay.
The tie lasted approximately as long as it took to take a break between innings for commercials, because Nick Markakis started the top of the third with his second home run of the year. He clobbered it, and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki just turned to watch it sail out of the park. Jones and Davis followed the home run with a single and a double, putting runners on second and third with no outs, but only one more run would come in to score. Wieters grounded out to the pitcher for the first out, then Hardy hit an RBI ground out to bring in Jones for the fourth run.
Hammel worked around a Cano double in the bottom of the third for another scoreless inning, and the Orioles scored their fifth and final run in the top of the fourth on Nolan Reimold's first home run of the year. For someone like me who likes Reimold more than is rationally warranted, it was great to see the ball sail out of the park in center field. McLouth followed Reimold with a double, his third hit of the day, and Joe Girardi pulled Hughes for David Phelps. It turns out that Phelps wasn't nearly as fun to hit against as Hughes was.
Phelps got the next three batters in the inning out, stranding McLouth at second base. He went on to pitch four innings with six strikeouts and he allowed just two baserunners. He hit Flaherty in the sixth inning, and in the seventh Adam Jones singled to left field and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Other than that, nada.
As for Hammel, he got out of some trouble in the fourth inning thanks to McLouth. With two runners on and one out, Lyle Overbay hit a ball to deep left field. McLouth raced back and made a leaping catch, just getting to the ball. After Hammel struck out Nix to end the inning, cameras caught him adorably giving McLouth a hug in the dugout.
The third and final run surrendered by Hammel came in the sixth inning, a homer from Vernon Wells. I don't even want to talk about the fact that Wells is actually doing pretty well so far this season. It better not last.
With Hammel out after six innings, Buck Showalter turned to the bullpen to close it out. Brian Matusz gave up a bunt single to Brett Gardner in the seventh but got the next three batters. Darren O'Day wasn't at his best, giving up an infield single to Ichiro and and outfield single to Cervelli, but even an O'Day off his game is better than most relievers, and he didn't give up a run. And Jim Johnson had his easiest outing yet for the save, needing just six pitches for a perfect inning.
Tomorrow the Orioles send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound to try and secure the series win. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees, and the game will be on ESPN at 8 p.m.