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Game 5 Anyone? Resilient Orioles Defeat Yankees in 13 Innings 2-1

Manny Machado Scores winning run (AP Photo)

It was another long night in the Bronx but this time there was no magic from a Yankee hitter and it was yet another thrilling chapter in their 2012 season. The never say die Baltimore Orioles extended their season defeating the Yankees 2-1. Jim Johnson closed out the game in a classic pitchers duel that involved a total of 16 pitchers, 8 from each team. In the 13 innings there were only 15 hits.

Darren O’Day shuts down theYankees in Relief (Elsa Getty Images)

The Orioles struck first as Nate McLouth hit a solo home run in the 5th. The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 6th when Robinson Cano grounded out to second to score Derek Jeter who doubled to lead off the inning. Both teams failed to capitalize on when they had runners in scoring position, the Yankees threatened in the bottom of the 8th when they had runners on 2nd and 2rd with only one out. Darren O’Day entered the game and became the hero of Birdland as he struck out Alex Rodriguez and then got Nick Swisher to fly out to right. O’Day then went on to shut down the Yankees in the 9th, 10th innings allowing no hits.

Nate McClouth makes key catch in against the wall off of Jayson Nix, he doubled up Russell Martin. (Elsa Getty Images)

Pedro Strop came into the game in the 11th and pitched two scoreless innings and in the top of the 13th, with the clock already past midnight 20 year old rookie Manny Machado doubled to right and scored on veteran Shortstop J.J. Hardy’s double to left, both off of David Phelps. The Orioles brought in Jim Johnson who put the Yankees down in order in the bottom of the 13th.

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has managed the series since learning of the death of his father on Sunday (AP Photo Alex Brandon)

It was a tense game as both teams pitchers made the pitches that they needed and hitters struggled. The Yankees and Orioles led the majors in home runs but those big bats for the most part have been remarkably silent. The Orioles can in large part be chalked up to playoff inexperience and hitters swinging at bad pitches, or base running mistakes. The Yankees with the exception of a 5 run 9th inning in game one have been cold and without Ibanez’s home runs in game 3 this series could well be over.

So it comes down to game five. The Orioles and Yankees who were even in the regular season against each other are even again and for one of the teams the 2012 season will be over later tonight, yes it is already Friday.

Meanwhile the magical season on the Oakland A’s came to an end against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. The Orioles or the Yankees will now play Detroit in the ALCS while San Francisco will await the winner of the Cardinals and Nationals game tonight with that series also tied at two apiece.

What a division championship series in both leagues, every series will go the full five games, all competitive and all exciting. This is playoff baseball.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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What to do Wednesday: Debate or Baseball? Let’s go O’s!

Nate McLouth hits a lead off Home Run to lead the Orioles to victory over the Red Sox to clinch a Wild Card Berth 

There are three days remaining before the first Presidential debate and the end of the regular Major League Baseball season.

On Wednesday Barak Obama and Mitt Romney will go head to head in the first televised debate of the 2012 general election but as important as this event is in the political debate of 2012 I really couldn’t give a shit because I know how it is going to turn out. Romney is going to say really bad things about Obama, make himself look like an ass in the process and even if he does reasonably well in the debate will still end up looking like a pompous ass.  Obama is not going to say a whole lot except look nicer and more presidential than Romney and that will be it. Both sides will spin the results and make sound bites that fire up their base but I really don’t expect the debates to change the race that much. Obama will have to implode and Romney will have to actually come across as a human being that has a real plan that respects all Americans in order to win.

No matter what the profession soothsayers of political punditry say that is the real deal. Most people’s minds are pretty much made up and unfortunately Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan. If it attempts to “zing” President Obama it will make him look like Wile E Romney, or perhaps George Costanza of Seinfeld when he tried to get the one line zinger in at work.  Romney’s supporters talk about how well he did in the GOP primary debates when supposedly his “back was against the wall” he is facing Barak Obama, not Rick Perry, Herman Cain or Newt Gingrich.

So since I already know how that will go down there are just three games left in the regular season. The Orioles and Yankees are tied atop the AL East with both teams clinching a wild card berth with the A’s still hanging on. With three games left the Orioles travel to Tampa to play the Rays and the Yankees will play at home against their traditional blood rivals the Boston Red Sox.

The Orioles I think are the better bet. The Red Sox have sucked this season by I expect that they wouldn’t mind torpedoing the Yankees in the last series of the season. The Rays expected more this year but I think that the O’s will take two of three in Tampa.

Wednesday will matter more for baseball than for either the Romney or Obama campaigns.  The electorate is so helplessly divided that no-one is going to listen to what the opposing candidate says anyway. Peoples minds are made up and unless Obama actually admits to being a White Supremacist and comes out as a member of the KKK or Romney admits that he is a Gay Kenyan Socialist who masturbates to music the 1980s British Punk Rock group the Sex Pistols nothing is going to change much.  And even if they did their partisans would look for a way to exploit their candidate’s gaff to their advantage.

However baseball is another matter.  No matter if it is the AL East, AL West or the NL Wild Card race Wednesday will matter.  The Orioles, Yankees, Rays, Rangers, Athletics, Cardinals, Angels, Tigers, White Sox and Dodgers are still in the playoff mix. That is a lot of America, probably more than the voters that are still supposedly undecided.

So on Wednesday if the debate is still going when the Orioles are done playing I might tune in. But I know what really matters. Baseball will be here a lot longer than either Mitt Romney or Barak Obama.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Improbable, Unexpected but not Impossible: Four Games remaining and Orioles now Tied with Yankees in AL East

Manny Machado singles in a run on Saturday night as the Orioles Defeat the Red Sox to gain a share of First Place in the AL East (Patrick Semansky / AP)

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games.  No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games.  It’s the other third that makes the difference.” Tommy Lasorda

Four games are left in the regular season and the Baltimore Orioles are tied with the perennial AL East favorite New York Yankees for the division. Last year at this time the Orioles were in last place but ruining the chances of the Red Sox but now they are tied for first with the Yankees.

What a night to do it as the Orioles honored Hall of Fame 3rd Baseman and Orioles legend Brooks Robinson before the game.

No expert would have predicted this but this but the plucky and determined Baltimore Orioles are threatening the Yankees in a very real way after 158 games. Today the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Yankees and the Orioles defeated the Red Sox. With identical records of 91-67 the Birds and the Bombers are tied atop the American League East in a manner that no-one expected.

The Orioles are now within a game of clinching a spot in the Wild Card Playoff and are even money to take the East against the Yankees. If the Orioles win tomorrow regardless of what happens with the Yankees they will clinch a spot as a Wild Card team.

Who would have expected it? Name the players that have really came on to get the Orioles where they are? Most people can’t. Manny Machado? Last year I was watching him lead the Frederick Keys to the Advanced Single A Carolina League title in Kinston against the Indians. Chris Tillman? Last year not called up in September despite being on the 40 man roster. Nate McLouth, in Pittsburgh. Jim Thome? In Cleveland in order to get his 600th home run where so much of his career was made. Chris Davis? In AAA Norfolk. The list goes on and on. They are a real life version of the movie Major League Cleveland Indians.

There is a great line in that movie uttered by the Indians Manager Lou Brown played by James Gammon: “Every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think we’d save everyone a lot of time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sports writers’ time. So, I’d like to hang around and see if we can give ’em all a nice big shitburger to eat.” 

Personally I would love to see everyone that predicted the Orioles to finish last again eat a shitburger and for the Orioles to win it all.

The Orioles are 72-0 when leading after 7 innings. They are 28-9 in one run games and have won 16 straight extra inning games. That is something that makes the Orioles something special, a tam that will defy the odds to win. Yes anything can happen but I think that this season is one that people will remember for a long time to come. The Orioles have not have a playoff appearance or winning season since 1997 and were predicted by most experts to finish last or next to last in  the AL East this year. I have never bought that line. I thought back in April and May that this was a special team. It is a team on a mission, a team fixed on the next 9 innings.

I think that is a sure fire way to win this thing. God this is fun.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Giants down Braves 3-2: Advance to NLCS

The Giants celebrate their first playoff series win since 2002 at Turner Field (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Once again there was a pitcher’s duel between the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants. Once again the Giants were the team to come from behind in the late innings to win the game in Atlanta. The Braves who have the most come from behind wins in the Majors this year could not come back from a late 3-2 deficit despite getting two walks with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning. Closer Brian Wilson got his command back and got Omar Infante to strike out for the second out and Melky Cabrera to ground out to 3rd base to end the game and the managerial career of the legendary Bobby Cox.  In a touching moment Cox came out for a curtain call tip of the hat to the fans receiving a standing ovation not just from the Braves faithful but from the victorious San Francisco Giants.

End of an era: Bobby Cox tips his hat after the game (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Giants started rookie Madison Bumgarner in game for against Derek Lowe pitching on short rest. Bumgarner struggled in the first three innings loading the bases in the 2nd and allowing a run on three singles and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 3rd inning.  Lowe was very effective actually going into the 6th inning with a no hitter which was broken up by a solo shot by Giants outfielder Cody Ross to tie the game.

Cody Ross celebrates after his 6th inning home run (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After the first three innings the young left-handed Bumgarner was very effective until the bottom of the 6th when he gave up a solo home run with 1 out to Braves catcher Brian McCann which gave the Braves a 2-1 lead and had the Braves faithful in full tomahawk chop frenzy mode.  With the crowd in his face Bumgarner bore down and despite giving up a single the Jayson Heyward struck out Alex Gonzales and Rick Ankiel to end the inning.

Fear the beard: Giants’ Closer Brian Wilson gets his second save in two games in Atlanta (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In the top of the 7th the Giants came back. Freddy Sanchez grounded out to lead off the inning but the tiring Lowe walked Aubrey Huff and then gave up a single to Buster Posey which sent Huff to 2nd base. Bobby Cox came to the mound to pull Lowe from the game with Pete Moylan ready in the bullpen. A defiant Lowe told Cox that he could get the next batter Pat Burrell out and Cox gave way allowing the World Series veteran to stay in the game. Instead of getting Burrell out Lowe walked him to load the bases which brought out Cox for the second time to bring in Moylan.  The first batter that Moylan faced was Juan Uribe who hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop Alex Gonzales who threw just high enough to bring second baseman Omar Infante off the bag allowing Huff to score and the bases to remain loaded. Jonny Venters relieved Moylan and struck out pinch hitter Aaron Rowland for the second out. Venters then faced Cody Ross who singled to left to score Posey for the go-ahead run but left fielder Matt Diaz threw out Burrell at the plate aided by a great block of the plate by Brian McCann.

Brian McCann and Diory Hernandez look on as the Giants celebrate (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Giants sent Santiago Casilla to relieve Bumgarner in the bottom of the 7th and Casilla sent the Braves down in order.  He would get Derek Lee to strike out swinging before giving up a one out single to Brian McCann.  Casilla then got Alex Gonzales to hit a soft sinking line drive to shortstop Edgar Renteria who misplayed it but was able to recover and throw out Gonzalez who paused before running to first base thinking that Renteria had the catch. Pinch runner Nate McLouth went to second on the play and Giants manager Bruce Bochy to bring in Javier Lopez and Lopez struck out Jayson Heyward to end the inning.

The Giants managed nothing in the 9th despite an Aubrey Huff single.  In the bottom of the 9th the Giants brought in closer Brian Wilson.  Wilson got pinch hitter Brooks Conrad, the error prone goat of Sunday night to fly out but then walked Rick Ankiel and Erik Hinske.  Wilson then struck out Omar Infante who was one of the most effective Braves hitters in the series before retiring Melky Cabrera on a ground ball to third to end the game.

Saluting the longtime foe: The Giants pause their celebration to tip their hats and honor Bobby Cox (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This was a true championship caliber series and certainly more competitive and well played than any of the other divisional series game.  Like all the games of this series the game could have gone either way. These teams were so evenly matched and played so well that it was a shame that one had to lose. Both secured playoff berths on the last day of the season and both are class organizations and have great fans. The difference was pitching the Giants starters had an ERA of 0.89 in the four games but not the starters alone as the Giants’ pitching staff allowed just 5 earned runs in 37 innings work for a 1.21 ERA.   Giants’ starter Madison Bumgarner got the win while Derek Lowe picked up his second loss of the series.

The hero for the Giants was Cody Ross who had the game winning hit in game one and 2 RBIs in the finale to give the Giants just enough juice to end the Braves season and Bobby Cox’s managerial career.  As Bobby Cox tipped his hat at the end of the game I thought back to all of the times that this legendary manager has taken the Braves to the playoffs, especially their amazing run in 2005 with the “Baby Braves” rookies.  Cox was an old time manager who knew how to get the most out of his people and even continued to wear steel cleats to his final game. The colorful Cox will be missed and whoever the Braves get to fill his shoes will have to work many years in the shadow of a legend.

The Giants now move on the face the Phillies in the NLCS which begins on Friday in Philadelphia. I will analyze that series and the ALCS matchup after the Rays and Rangers series ends tomorrow evening.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Another Comeback: Tides Scalp Braves 5-4 on 8th Inning Rally

Kam Mickolio picked up his 4th win of the season in relief against the Braves allowing just one hit

The Norfolk Tides won their 4th game in a row on the road their longest road winning streak of the year against the Gwinnett Braves at Cool Ray Field in Lawrenceville Georgia. Early in the game it did not appear that the Tides would come out in the win column as the Braves scored early against Tides starter Chris George who was victimized, as so many other Tides have been by errors by Shortstop Robert Andino.  The Braves scored twice in the second inning on consecutive errors by Andino to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.  The Braves scored again in the 4th inning when Wilkin Ramirez singled and Clint Sammons homered to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.  Chris would give up the 2 earned runs on 8 hits in 5 innings work before coming out in favor of Kam Mickolio in the 6th inning. Mickolio pitched two strong innings of relief giving up 1 hit and no runs.  During the first 6 innings Braves starter Todd Redmond had the Tides number as he has throughout the year giving up no runs on 5 hits a walk while striking out 8 Tides.

Brandon Snyder had his 7th home run of the season 41st RBI

The Tides began their comeback in the top of the 7th against reliever Michael Dunn who had gone 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA in the International League and a win with Atlanta before Saturday and this game would be different.  Brandon Snyder crushed a pitch by Dunn over the left center field wall to put the Tides on the board and cut the Braves lead to 4-1.  Mickolio held the Braves scoreless in the bottom half of the inning and the Tides came back up to the plate in the top of the 8th.  In that inning the Tides struck hard. After Matt Angle was put out on a bunt ground ball Robert Andino singled. Jeff Salazar then walked and Braves Manager Dave Brundage decided that Dunn was done bringing in Stephen Marek who in 45 appearances for the Braves had a 2-1 record with a 1.15 ERA but who gave up 2 runs to the Tides and registered his only loss of the season the last time he faced the Tides on August 17th at Harbor Park.  Marek got Nolan Reimold to pop up on the infield fly rule but then with Lou Montanez batting Andino and Salazar executed a double steal to put them both in scoring position.  Montanez singled to score Andino and Salazar bringing Rhyne Hughes to the plate.  On a 1-1 count Hughes homered to right to give the Tides a 5-4 lead.

Rhyne Hughes hammered his 9th home run of the year in the 8th inning

Frank Mata relieved Mickolio in the bottom of the 8th and put the Braves down in order.  The Tides were silent in the 9th inning and the Tides brought Dennis Sarfate into the game to attempt the save. After getting Wilkin Ramirez to pop out and Clint Sammons to ground out Dennis gave up a two out single to Nate McLouth. He then retired Matt Young on a fly ball to left fielder Jeff Salazar to end the game and give the Tides their 4th win of the road trip. Kam Mickolio (4-3 6.32 ERA) got the win for the Tides and Dennis Sarfate got his 18th save. Stephen Marek (2-2 1.51 ERA) took the loss his second to the Tides in 10 days.  The Tides had 5 runs on 9 hits and Andino’s two errors stranding 5 runners. The Braves had 4 runs on 10 hits with no errors leaving 7 men on base. The teams will meet Sunday afternoon with Troy Patton (7-11 4.67 ERA) taking the hill for the Tides against Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy (2-0 2.67 ERA).

The Orioles transferred Jason Berken from the 15 Day to the 60 Day DL.  In Anaheim the Orioles defeated the Angels 5-0 on a strong performance by Kevin Millwood. Former Tide Josh Bell had his 3rd homer of the year a 2 run shot against Angels’ starter Scott Kazmir.  Jim Johnson made his first relief appearance since coming off the DL shutting down the Angels in the 9th inning to give the O’s a 2-0 series lead and their 5th win in a row over the Angels.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides let Victory “Walk Away” from them, Lose 11-9 to Braves

Scott Moore hit his 10th home run his 3rd in 2 days

The Norfolk Tides went down to George to do battle with their long time International League South rival the Gwinnett Braves.  In a game that looked like it would be another of their more recent comeback wins after getting behind early in the game.  After the Tides took an 8-7 lead the relief staff quite literally let victory “walk away” from them in a 7th inning meltdown where the relievers were strike-zone challenged.

Tim Bascom started for the Tides and Tim got roughed up early and often.  In the first inning he gave up a walk and a single which the Braves used to manufacture a run when Freddie Freeman sacrificed Matt Young across the plate.  He gave up two more runs in the 2nd inning when on a series of alternating walks and singles Nate McLouth singled to score Joe Thurston and Wilkin Ramirez.  In the 3rd inning Barbaro Canizares homered off of Bascom to put the Braves up by a 4-0 count.

Michael Aubrey hit his 18th homer of the year

The Tides offense manufactured 2 runs in the top of the 4th inning when. Nolan Reimold walked and Scott Moore reached on a force attempt where Braves starter Todd Redmond committed a throwing error attempting to force Reimold out at second. Lou Montanez singled to bring Reimold across the plate and Moore to second.  Rhyne Hughes hit into a double play and Moore went to 3rd base. Michel Hernandez singled to bring Moore across to close the gap to 4-2.

However the Braves opened up an even larger lead scoring 3 more runs off of Bascom who allowed consecutive singles to Wilkin Ramirez and Clint Sammons to set the stage for Nate McLouth who homered to make the score 7-2. However the Tides rectified that situation in the top of the 5th scoring 4 runs and in the top of the 6th adding two more. Robert Andino doubled, Michael Aubrey walked and Nolan Reimold singled to load the bases with no outs.  After Scott Moore flied out to short center Lou Montanez doubled to score Andino and Aubrey.  Michel Hernandez popped up for the second out but Paco Figueroa singled to score Reimold and Montanez to close the gap to 7-6.  In the top of the 6th with two outs Nolan Reimold walked and Scott Moore hit his 10th home run of the season to give the Tides their lead of the game.

It was at this point that things walked away from the Tides. Pat Egan had relieved Bascom in the 5th inning and was still pitching in the bottom of the 7th.  Egan got Martin Prado to ground out and then gave up singles to Freddie Freeman and Barbaro Canizares. This brought in Jim Hoey who has pitched very well since coming up from double-A Bowie having allowed just three runs in 10.1 innings pitched during 9 appearances.  In that time walks have been the bane of him as he has only allowed 3 hits but counting last night 11 walks.  Hoey gave up a single to Joe Thurston to load the bases and struck out Luis Bolivar.  He then issued a walk to Wilkin Ramirez to score Freeman and a wild pitch which scored Canizares.  He then walked Clint Sammons to reload the bases and followed that with a walk to Nate McLouth which scored Thurston.  The brought out Bobby Dickerson and Alberto Castillo came in.  Castillo walked Matt Young to score Ramirez before he struck out Willie Cabrera to end the inning with the Tides having lost their lead training by a score of 11-8.

In the 8th Michael Aubrey hit a solo home run, his 18th of the year with two outs to make the score 11-9. In the 9th Scott Moore had a 2 out double but pinch hitter Jeff Salazar struck out to end the inning and the game with the score Gwinnett 11 and Norfolk 9. Pat Egan (1-1 6.23 ERA) took the loss in relief and Scott Proctor (4-3 7.98 ERA) the win.  The Tides had 9 runs on 12 hits with 1 error stranding 8 runners and the Braves 11 runs on 13 hits and an error with 8 left on base.  The teams square off tonight with Mike Hinckley (1-3 4.78 ERA) making his first start for the Tides going up against Kenshin Kawakami (0-1, 3.18 ERA) for the G-Braves.

Up in Baltimore a rejuvenated and confident Orioles squad defeated the Seattle Mariners in 11 innings 5-4.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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