Well that wasn’t good.
The New York Yankees shocked the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning, as Jim Johnson gave up a game-winning single to Vernon Wells, and the Yankees took the first of three in the Bronx by a score of 3-2.
The Orioles could not do much of anything against Yankees starter Ivan Nova, who pitched a complete game and only allowed three hits, though one was a two-run homer to Matt Wieters.
This was essentially a rare case for the Orioles where the offense let the pitching down. Starter Miguel Gonzalez didn’t have his best stuff (six innings and five walks – one intentional), but he was able to constantly duck out of trouble with only allowing one run. Troy Patton and Darren O’Day each pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth respectively.
But the story of this game, as has been of so many this season, was Jim Johnson. Johnson gave up a leadoff single to David Adams, and then speedy Brett Gardner reached on a misplayed bunt attempt.
“The thing that really changed it was screwing up the bunt,” Johnson said. “That was trying to do too many things at once instead of just taking the out.”
After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Johnson intentionally walked Robinson Cano to load the bases. But then Johnson gave up another walk, on four straight pitches, to Travis Hafner to tie the game.
Five pitches later, Vernon Wells willed a ground ball past Manny Machado and into left field for the walk-off victory.
Sure, everyone will want to blame this one on Jim Johnson. Well, perhaps some blame is warranted. Heck, let’s call it what it is, Johnson has struggled this season. Win-loss records are tremendously overvalued in baseball, but a closer having seven losses just after the midway point of the season is, in this case, a telling stat.
Perhaps part of the reason is because Johnson is walking more batters despite getting more first-pitch strikes than he was last season. This shows that Johnson still has the ability to make good pitches; he is just losing individual battles that he was not doing last year. If Johnson can maintain his ability to get first-pitch strikes, I expect his fortunes to turn around soon.
In this particular game, the offense was every bit as much to blame as Johnson. Mustering just three hits against a spot-starter is just not going to cut it in New York, no matter how many injuries they have. I am not worried about the offense by any means; sometimes you just have to tip your cap and get ‘em next time.
The Orioles will look to do just that today at 1:05 as Chris Tillman goes up against Andy Pettite.