If you are the kind of baseball fan who, like me, stews for years in the bitter juices of resentment over the injustice or misfortune of certain specific plays, then you probably have a particular team that you hate more than all of the others. The kind of hate that can only be born from a play like, just to pick a random example, an umpire missing the most blatant display of fan interference of all time, allowing another team to win the ALCS and then World Series when it should have been the Orioles.
When your favorite team is playing that hated team, it's sweet to see them win a close game due to some dramatic late-game theatrics. Like, say, the kind of game the Orioles played against the Yankees back on Cal Ripken statue night in 2012. You know the one.
There is a sweeter kind of victory still. When the Orioles take the field against that hated team and they just stomp the everloving crap out of them. When that hated team comes undone stitch by stitch, their every vulnerability laid bare on the baseball field, one embarrassing mistake after another, that is when the victory is most glorious. When that hated Yankees team looks, quite frankly, like so many bad Orioles teams of the early-, mid, and late-00s, that is a fun baseball game.
That's the kind of game the Orioles won against the Yankees on Friday night, stomping them into the ground in an 11-3 win. It was only one game, but my gosh, what a game.
Ubaldo struggles early
The game did not look nearly so glorious early on. Starter Ubaldo Jimenez managed to load the bases with no one out in the first inning before artfully escaping that jam with an infield popup, strikeout, and flyout. All's well that ends well, although he threw 27 pitches in the inning.
This when the Orioles were facing Yankees starter Michael Pineda. The last time they saw him, they struck out 16 times in his seven innings of work and it was they who were more or less laughed out of the stadium. That was not the case in this game. Manny Machado walked to lead off the bottom of the first and Jimmy Paredes had a single. It was the O's who threatened. Chris Davis drove in Machado with a single and it was the O's who were on the board first.
The lead did not last for so long. Brett Gardner was hit by a pitch to start off the third inning, and, because Jimenez at times does not believe in holding runners, Gardner stole second base easily. Alex Rodriguez brought Gardner home to the tie score - Rodriguez's 2,993rd hit and 1,999th RBI of his career. Mark Teixeira singled after Rodriguez to keep the threat alive before Jimenez escaped once again.
LOL Yankees (Part 1)
In the end, it wasn't a big deal. Machado led off the third inning with a sharp grounder to Yankees third baseman Chase Headley. The ball took an awkward bounce and, instead of fielding it, Headley was instead struck in the nuts (BALLS LOLOLOL) before the ball rolled on past him and into the left field corner. This was a two base error. Paredes followed with an infield single in Headley's direction. Neither Headley nor Pineda could get there in time.
A clean Jones single to center followed to put the Orioles back on top and it was once again up to Davis to drive men in. Pineda started out by throwing Davis a ball. Then I guess he was like, crap, I'd better throw Davis a strike. Davis crushed that strike over the out-of-town scoreboard for his 13th home run of the season, a beautiful Earl Weaver special that gave the Orioles a 5-1 lead. Pineda was blasted for six runs, five earned, on nine hits in only 4.1 innings of work.
Ubaldo's later struggles
Staked to a four run lead, what do you not want to do? Walk the very first batter, who's batting .231 and slugging .302. Jimenez chose not to adhere to this strategy, walking Didi Gregorius and looking like he was going to also walk Stephen Drew before getting a groundout.
Jimenez then served up an absolute meatball to Yankees center fielder Mason Williams, who was making his major league debut in the game. Williams, who, with 23 home runs in 2,049 career minor league plate appearances, is no serious power hitter, crushed a ball into the right-center field seats, ten rows deep. A fan kindly threw the ball back onto the field for him. The Yankees pulled within two runs and Ubaldo was clearly headed for a short outing.
Though he retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the fifth inning, Jimenez was up over 100 pitches and after a leadoff single to Carlos Beltran in the sixth inning, that was it for Jimenez. T.J. McFarland came on in relief to face the Yankees lefty-heavy lineup, which he did successfully in that he allowed no runs, although he loaded the bases in the process. Jimenez's line was a not great three runs on six hits and two walks in five innings plus a batter. He did strike out six, but mostly he was lucky his hitters were good and the Yankees fielders were, well...
LOL Yankees (Part 2)
The bottom of the sixth inning began with Caleb Joseph rocketing a ball directly into the glove of the Orioles bullpen catcher, his fifth home run of the season. That convinced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to bring out his human sacrifice, Esmil Rogers. You know how in Jurassic Park, there's that part where a live cow is dropped into the velociraptor pen? Esmil Rogers is the cow.
Machado greeted Rogers with a hard ground ball to third base, which new Yankees third baseman Brendan Ryan (Headley must have needed to ice things down) booting the ball, although this was scored a hit. Well, no big deal. Rogers got the next batter, Paredes, to hit an easy grounder to Teixeira, who gloved the ball and threw it... way over the second baseman's head and into center field. This error broke a 109 game errorless streak for Teixeira.
A wild pitch bounced around like a pinball to give the Orioles another run. Before the inning was out, the Orioles would grab two more runs, with Hardy doubling one in and Travis Snider singling in another. This was the Orioles' 10th run, their first time having so many since they blew out the Red Sox, 18-7.
Just for good measure, they grabbed one more run in the seventh inning, helped by one more Benny Hill-type play by the Yankees. Ryan Flaherty led off the inning with a hit, which gave every starter at least one hit. This actually was a misplay by Teixeira that could have easily ended his new errorless innings streak at one. Joseph hit an easy fly ball to right field that neither Gardner nor Beltran showed any inclination to catch as it dropped right between them.
When the dust settled, the Orioles won the game 11-3. They had 16 hits, including an eye-popping 9-19 with runners in scoring position. It was their fifth win in a row, a season high, and it brought them back to .500 for the first time in over a month. It also was Buck Showalter's 407th win as an Oriole, tying him with Hank Bauer for third place on the franchise's manager wins list. The Orioles now trail the Yankees by three games in the AL East.
Within 30 minutes of the game ending, Rogers was outrighted off the Yankees roster.
As great as it all was, it's still only one game in June, and if they lose tomorrow they'll be back below .500 once again. Bud Norris and CC Sabathia, both of whom have had their rough patches in 2015, are the scheduled starters for the 7:15 game. The game will be televised on Fox.