On many nights this would have been an easy win for the Orioles. After all, they racked up seventeen hits including three home runs. But the O's couldn't come through in a number of clutch situations, and some late inning troubles by the bullpen made this game a little close for comfort. But all's well that ends well, and the Orioles came away with their 94th win of the season. The Yankees, on the other hand, now sit one game from elimination of any postseason chance. Ain't the beer cold!
Ubaldo Jimenez got his second start in as many weeks tonight as Buck Showalter is trying to give his starters an extra day of rest through the last time through the rotation in the regular season. When last we saw Ubaldo, he was pitching the Orioles into a win that clinched the division last Tuesday. He was wild but ultimately effective that night, and the same could be said for him in this game.
Though he didn't allow any runs in the first inning, Jimenez didn't exactly inspire confidence as he walked the leadoff batter, gave up a stolen base, and hit a batter with a pitch. But after the O's gave him a two-run lead in the second inning, he came back and retired seven in a row before he got into hot water again.
The two runs in the second for the Orioles came courtesy of a solo home run from Kelly Johnson and an RBI single by Nick Markakis. The home run was the first for Kelly Johnson as an Oriole and his seventh this season. His previous six came in a darker time in his career when he played for the Yankees earlier this season. Markakis's single knocked in Jimmy Parades, who had singled himself with one out and moved to third on a hit by Nick Hundley.
In the fourth inning the Orioles put up two more runs on starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, courtesy again of #TeamNick. Hundley got on base for Markakis, who took advantage of right field in Yankee Stadium for his 13th home run of the year.
The Yankees finally got on the board in the fourth inning when Ubaldo again walked a guy. At this point I'm not even frustrated by it, it's just par for the course for Ubaldo. Chase Headley was the recipient of the walk, and he went to third base on a double from Mark "Booooooooo" Teixeira. A ground out from Brian McCann brought in the first run to cut the lead to three runs.
About five minutes after McCann's RBI groundout, Nelson Cruz gave the Orioles back their four-run lead thanks to his major-league leading 40th home run of the season. Do you love dingers? Well then Nelson Cruz is your guy! It felt like a very comfortable lead at that point, but it turned out the O's needed every one of those runs.
Jimenez started the sixth inning and gave up a single and a walk, which was all that Buck Showalter could stand. He pulled him in favor of Brad Brach, and while Brach did walk a batter of his own and allow one of Jimenez's runs to come in on a sacrifice fly, he got out of the inning with a decent lead still intact. It didn't last long.
While the Orioles hitters were busy stranding runners all over the place (two each in the sixth, eighth, and ninth innings. They didn't strand any in the seventh thanks to an inning ending double play), the normally solid relief duo of Darren O'Day and Andrew Miller ran into some problems. Well, O'Day didn't actually pitch poorly. He got the first two outs but then gave up an extremely clutch and historical infield single to Derek Jeter, and was then pulled for Andrew Miller. Miller only needed to retire Brian McCann. He did not. McCann hit Miller's fastball right into the right field seats to bring the Yankees to within one.
Tommy Hunter replaced Miller and pitched an 1-2-3 eighth inning with three ground outs, and then it was up to Zach Britton. If anyone reached base, Jeter would have an opportunity to hit, which of course is what ESPN and even Gary Thorne couldn't stop talking about. Britton quickly got the first two batters, but an infield single by Brett Gardner kept things alive for Captain Clutch. Britton dialed up his fastball to 96 and 97 mph and mowed Jeter down on three pitches to end the game. Hooray!