Camden Yards no help to CC this time

On a night when all the talk around the Yankees seemed to be about who is closing games for them and who is not, they ended up in a game in which they had no use for a closer. Camden Yards turned out not to be as friendly for CC Sabathia as the Baltimore yard traditionally has been, and the Yankees were lucky to score at all in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles, who remained tied for first place in the American League East.

Seeking to become the first Yankees starter to pitch at least eight innings in five straight starts since David Cone in 1998, Sabathia slogged his way through six in which he gave up four runs, eight hits (including a home run by Adam Jones), four walks and one hit batter with six strikeouts. CC was not terrible by any means, just lacked control. The loss, his first of the season after five victories, was only his second in 12 career decisions at Camden Yards and his third in 19 career decisions against the Orioles.

For this night, CC was second best to another lefthander, Taiwan-born Wei-Yin Chen, who went seven innings and remained unbeaten at 4-0. Curtis Granderson’s 11th home run accounted for both Yankees runs, although he had help from a fan in the front row of the left field grandstand who shoved his glove in the face of Xavier Avery as the left fielder prepared to catch the ball, a play not unlike the infamous maneuver by then 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier that helped Derek Jeter get a home run in Game 1 of the 1996 American League Championship Series.

Unlike 16 years ago, such plays are subject for review by umpires now, but there was no gripe from Baltimore manager Buck Showalter. Strange, I thought, but a good deal for the Yankees, who closed to 4-2. The Yanks had just about handed the Orioles a run the previous inning when Robinson Cano booted a ground ball and then made a soft toss to Jeter covering second base for a possible force. Good hustle by the Orioles’ Robert Andino beat the play as a run scored.

The Yankees gave Baltimore another run in the seventh on a passed ball by Chris Stewart, his second of the game. Stewart has done a good job catching Sabathia especially, but a backup catcher whose main responsibility is defense cannot be making two passed balls in one game. It didn’t help that the Baltimore base runner that scored, Adam Jones, should have been out earlier in the inning instead of stealing second base. Video replays indicated that second base umpire Adrian Johnson blew the call.

Showalter removed Chen at the start of the eighth, and the Yankees threatened against hard-throwing reliever Pedro Strop, who couldn’t find the plate and walked the first two batters. That threat wilted as Nick Swisher hit into a fielder’s choice and Cano grounded into a double play.

Granderson’s homer was the Yankees’ only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. They were 2-for-20 in clutch spots and hit into five double plays in the two-game series in which the Yankees were fortunate to get a split.

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