Split in Baltimore what Yanks needed to do
The Yankees did what they needed to do in Baltimore in the American League Division Series in splitting the two games at Camden Yards and heading home to Yankee Stadium for at least two more games and possibly a third. Oh, sure, the Yanks would have loved to do what the Reds did against the Giants by winning the first two games in San Francisco to create a shot at closing out that National League Division Series at home in Cincinnati.
The Division Series format of the team with home-field advantage playing the first two games on the road and the next three, if necessary, at home was put back in place this year for reasons that I still cannot explain. Major League Baseball wisely went to a 2-2-1 format for Division Series play in 2000 and plans to return to that structure next year. For now, the Yankees must live with it, but at this point it is to their advantage. The troubling part is that the Orioles won the season series at the Stadium this year, six games to three.
Frankly, the Yankees were lucky to get the runs they did in Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss in Game 2 that squared the series. There was Ichiro Suzuki’s magic act in the first inning with a whirling dervish of a slide. In the seventh, Orioles right fielder left his feet trying to catch a low liner by Eduardo Nunez that allowed the Yankees’ swift designated hitter to turn the hit into a double and be in position to score on Derek Jeter’s single.
It was another game in which the Yankees could not come up with the big hit the way they did in the ninth inning of Game 1 when they scored five runs. In Game 2, they left 10 runners on base, including six in scoring position. They stranded a runner on second in the first inning, the bases loaded in the fourth and runners on second and third in the seventh.
Andy Pettitte, the Yankees’ perennial Game 2 postseason starter, deserved a better fate. He pitched one batter into the eighth and allowed three runs, seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. He gave up a 1-0 lead in the third on a two-run single by Davis, who was one of five straight batters to reach base that inning after two were out.
Pettitte was furious with himself for giving up the third run, in the sixth. Matt Wieters smoked a double to left-center to begin the inning, and Mark Reynolds found a hole to the right side for an opposite-field single that delivered what proved the deciding run.
After a bullpen breakdown, Baltimore got a superlative pitching effort from Taiwanese starter Wei-Yin Chen, who allowed one earned run in 6 1/3 innings with a sneaky fastball and a hard slider, and ensemble work from the bullpen. Under-arm righthander Darren O’Day got a big strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez in the seventh.
The Orioles wanted nothing to do with Robinson Cano, who was intentionally walked by lefty reliever Brian Matusz, who set down four of the next five hitters, two on strikeouts. Yankees manager Joe Girardi showed respect for Matusz’s ability to hold runners on first base by not pinch running for Mark Teixeira after he led off the eighth with a single. Girardi saw no point is using Brett Gardner with Matusz on the mound and the track slow from early rain. It would not have mattered much because Matusz struck out Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson and got Nunez on a foul pop.
Those outs proved just as valuable as the three in the ninth produced by Jim Johnson, the major-league saves leader (51) during the regular season who got bombed for five runs in a third of an inning in Monday night’s last inning.
These two teams have played 20 games each other this season. Each has won 10. The see-saw has to stop at some point, and when it does it will be at Yankee Stadium.
- Posted on October 9, 2012 at 12:44 AM
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- Tags: American League Division Series, Andy Pettitte, Brian Matusz, Camden Yards, Chris Davis, Darren O'Day, Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez, Ichiro Suzuki, Jim Johnson, Joe Girardi, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Yankee Stadium