They waited two-and-a-half hours to play tonight and when they began Derek Jeter singled up the middle. He took off for second base just before Ichiro lined one into the gap in left center field. Jeter scored easily. Then Ichiro took off for third on the first pitch to Alex Rodriguez and was thrown out. It wasn’t a bright play and killed the inning.
Couple of innings later another mistake on the bases cost them, too. Rodriguez worked an impressive walk to start the third, laying off a couple of nasty breaking balls. He took off for second just before Robinson Cano hit a sharp line drive down the first base line. It was speared by Mark Reynolds who tagged first. Nick Swisher walked and then Mark Teixeira hit a long fly ball to right. More of a line drive, really, and it missed being a home run by a couple of feet, maybe less. Rodriguez scored to tie the game but Teixeira was thrown out at second on a nice throw by Chris Davis. Difficult play to judge for Teixeira but considering he can’t run probably not a wise gamble.
The RBI hit was enough to tie the game though. The Orioles got a couple in the third when CC Sabathia hung a slider to Nate McClouth with runners on second and third. McClouth slapped it into right field. Otherwise, Sabathia looked crisp, 76 pitches through six innings. He gave up a few bleeders, some dunkers but was in control. Sabathia got into a jam in the fifth and was saved by some nifty defensive work from his catcher Russell Martin, who blocked several pitches in the dirt and made an athletic play on a bunt, as well.
Real time, now. Martin leads off the seven inning by drawing a walk on a full count pitch against lefty reliever Troy Patton. The raucous crowd in Baltimore turns pensive when Raul Ibanez gets ahead 3-1. They stir when Ibanez checks his swing for strike two and groans when Patton misses outside to walk him. Buck Showalter sprints to the mound to summon the sidearming Darren O’Day to face Jeter.
Jeter squares, the pitch sails outside for a ball. Again, he squares, pulls the bat back, and takes a strike. Then, he stabs at another pitch tailing away, good for a strike. Don’t see that often. You also don’t see a guy bunt with two strikes but that’s precisely what Jeter did, laying down a fastball, right down the middle for a successful sacrifice, 5-3.
They don’t walk Ichiro and he takes a called strike and backs off at a ball inside. Crushes the next pitch foul, way ahead of it–Nertz. Now, the crowd is up, waving their orange towels again. Ground ball right at Andino at second. Throw comes home and is low, but Weiters picks it and tags Martin out.
Rodriguez got a pitch, first pitch, he got a pitch, and he fouls it off. Tries to check his swing on the next pitch and couldn’t. Down 0-2, any Yankee fan with confidence? Hardly. Towels waving. Another side-arming floater, outside corner, Alex holds up. Gets the nod. No strike. Next pitch, even further outside, lays off again. Waves at the next pitch.
Bottom of the inning, Spark Iron Lew Ford leads off against Sabathia and grounds out on a 3-2 off-speed pitch. He hit a slow, steady roller to second. Cano raced for it, fielded and scooped it over to Teixeira to nick Ford by a half step. Robert Andino is next, works the count even at 2-2, fouls off a fastball, then a breaking ball, looks at a heater outside for ball three, and takes Sabathia’s 90th pitch of the night. He starts to walk to first when he hears that he’s been called out on strikes. Andino hops, twirls and walks back to the dugout. Nate McClouth takes a few borderline pitches then grounds out to Cano.
Past tense. Here’s out it panned out.
Brian Matusz was effective in the eighth working around a two-out walk to Teixeira and striking out Curtis Granderson to end the inning.
Sabathia returned for the eighth and promptly fell behind J.J. Hardy, 2-0 and then gave up a double. The pitch was outside and Hardy went with it, a nifty piece of hitting. First pitch to Adam Jones was right over the plate, and Jones almost came out of his shoes swinging at it. Sabathia and the Yanks were lucky he fouled it back–straight back–and didn’t deposit it over the wall in center. The next two pitches were inside for balls but then Sabathia came back and got him swinging–nice breaking ball.
One hundred and four pitches for CC and the next one was a fastball in Matt Weiters’ kitchen, good for a foul out to Teixeira.
Mark Reynolds, that late season Yankee Killer: changed up (84 mph) for a called strike; fastball (92), just misses inside for a ball; change up (86), low but good enough for called strike two. Sabathia walks off the mound, meets Martin half way to home, puts the glove over his mouth, and then returns to the hill. Another change up, inside (84), and Reynolds hangs in to foul it off down the right field line. He can’t do much with the next change up but ground it softly to Jeter.
Phew. And some game from the Poppa Large.
So the ninth gave the O’s closer, Jim Johnson. Ball one, and ball two and then Russell Martin skied one to left. A High Fly. About five rows deep and the Yanks had the lead.
Ibanez singled to right and after a botched bunt attempt Ibanez took off for second, Jeter got jammed but fisted one into right for a cheap shit base hit. Eduardo Nunez replaced Ibanez at third. So Ichiro has a swinging bunt, little dribbler not fifteen feet up the first base line. Johnson fielded it but had no play. Nunez slid home head first and the Yanks had a two run lead and Rodriguez at the dish.
Rodriguez missed one pitch to hit and then K’d for the third time on the night. But Cano, who hacked at almost every pitch he saw tonight, nailed a double to left, scoring Jeter and Ichiro. A poor throw allowed Cano to move to third and Johnson was done, the score now 6-2. He came home when Swisher hit a deep fly ball against Tommy Hunter.
Many of the home town fans left by the time Sabathia returned and got the first two outs in the ninth. Lew Ford doubled and Joe Girardi replaced Sabathia with David Robertson. Camden Yards has been a haven for Yankee fans for a long time now but they were drowned out by the home faithful. Which was appropriate. But when Robertson got the last out the only cheers heard were those of the Bronx variety.
Final Score: Yanks 7, O’s 2.
[Photo Credit: John Munson/N.J.com]