With the game meaning advancing to the American League Championship Series for the New York Yankees and staving off elimination for the Baltimore Orioles, both teams once again produced a nail-biter. Unfortunately, there will be a Game 5 in the Bronx on Friday afternoon as the Orioles outlasted the Yankees in 13 innings by the score of 2-1.
The Yankees offense remained anemic, wasting another excellent start from the rotation. Phil Hughes was exceptional, allowing just one run, a solo home run to Nate McLouth in the fifth. It was one of four hits Hughes allowed. He walked three and struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings, while impressively wiggling out of some tough jams. Hughes stranded runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs in first inning, then runners at 2nd and 3rd and zero outs in third.
The Yankees were held scoreless until the 6th. Derek Jeter doubled to lead off the inning and Ichiro Suzuki moved him over with a sac bunt. After Mark Teixeira walked, Robinson Cano grounded into a fielder’s choice scoring the tying run.
The Yankees missed a golden opportunity in the bottom of the eighth with Ichiro and Teixeira getting back to back singles to start the frame. Cano moved them over with another grounder to second base. But, Darren O’Day struck out Alex Rodriguez on four pitches and Nick Swisher flew out to end the threat.
The Yankees bullpen was once again spectacular getting the Bombers to the twelfth with the game still knotted at one. Boone Logan got the final out of the seventh. David Robertson continued his impressive series with a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano did the same for the next two innings. Joba Chamberlain went 1 1/3 innings but was pulled after a shattered bat coming off a single by Matt Wieters struck him in the pitching elbow. In came David Phelps and he retired the side in the twelfth. But, in the 13th, the Orioles got a leadoff double from Manny Machado. After a fielder’s choice moved Machado over, J.J. Hardy doubled to the left field gap giving the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
There would be no magic in the bottom half of the inning as Jim Johnson worked a quick 1-2-3 inning against the heart of the Yankees order. The Yankees were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and they are hitting .216 collectively. Robinson Cano (.111) Rodriguez (.125) Swisher (.133) and Granderson (.063) have each dragged the offense down.
The Yankees will turn to their ace CC Sabathia tomorrow with the season on the line. The Orioles will counter with Jason Hammel in a rematch of Game 1. The winner will advance to the ALCS to face the Detroit Tigers who beat the Oakland A’s in Game 5 of their series behind a sterling effort from Justin Verlander.
The season series between the Yanks and O’s, including the playoffs, is knotted up at 11 games apiece and the Yankees hold a two-run lead over the Orioles during the span (103-101). So, a Game 5 should have been expected and will finally resolve who was the better team in 2012.