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Unforgettable series between Orioles, Yankees was destined for Game 5

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Unforgettable series between Orioles, Yankees was destined for Game 5

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — After four nights of unforgettable postseason baseball, what more could you ask for than a Game 5 in the American League Division Series between the Orioles and Yankees?

Counted out by many after a crushing extra-inning loss in Game 3 Wednesday night, the Orioles and their ability to bounce back from defeat once again proved the naysayers wrong. Their 2-1 win over the New York Yankees in 13 innings Thursday night not only staved off elimination, but it was everything you could ask for in a playoff game.

When shortstop J.J. Hardy’s drive in the top of the 13th found the left-center gap to plate rookie Manny Machado, a collective sigh of relief was evident in the minds of Orioles hitters who had been held to only one run in their previous 19 innings.

“A little bit of everything, frustrated, fatigued,” Hardy said. “We had our back against the wall. It was win or go home, and we knew it. It was intense out there, and it was nice to come through there in the 13th.”

The Orioles and Yankees have played each other 22 times this season, with each club winning 11. New York has outscored Baltimore in those games by a narrow 103-101 margin.

Of the 43 innings played over the first four games, the clubs have been separated by more than one run at the conclusion of only two innings for the entire series.

The clubs have been tight all year, so why not leave it to a one-game scenario for the ultimate bragging rights and the ability to advance?

As bats on both sides have largely been dormant — and that’s putting it mildly — the pitching has dominated for each club. The series has supported the old adage that good pitching beats good hitting time and time again.

Friday’s series finale will feature Yankees ace CC Sabathia against Orioles starter Jason Hammel in a rematch of what we witnessed in Game 1. A trip to the AL Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers is on the line.

“As good a a team as they are, it’s an honor to be in Game 5 with them,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You knew all along that the road to where we want to try to get is going to have to pass through here. They deserve to be playing, having the home-field advantage. I don’t get too over-analytical about it. We come and compete.”

Several Orioles hitters acknowledged after Game 4 they’ve been pressing at the plate with runs at such a premium for each club. As a result, the averages have plummeted in each lineup as the struggles of Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have been matched by Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson.

Veteran Joe Saunders turned in a second straight strong performance in an elimination game on Thursday, but it was the bullpen that shined as it threw 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Pedro Strop, Tommy Hunter, and Luis Ayala made their postseason debuts after not pitching in over a week but contributed to the Orioles’ ability to keep the New York bats silent.

And it’s a good thing too as the Orioles finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and found even fewer scoring opportunities against the New York bullpen later in the game.

“Pitchers have been making their pitches,” Hardy said. “Maybe we’re all trying to do too much. There hasn’t been a whole lot of opportunities to score runs, so when there are those opportunities, I think we’re trying a little bit too hard.”

Regardless of what happens on Friday, the Orioles once again displayed the toughness and tenacity necessary to go deep into the postseason, even if their talent in other areas may eventually prevent them from fulfilling their World Series dreams.

After a 93-win season, a Wild Card Game victory, and one of the biggest turnarounds in club history, the Orioles now found themselves in a winner-take-all elimination game against the Yankees, the franchise that’s become the focal point of frustration for clubs such as Baltimore who haven’t been able to compete for a variety of reasons over the years.

Friday isn’t about payroll or prior playoff experience.

It comes down to one game.

Whether you’re 42-year-old Jim Thome or the 20-year-old Machado still establishing himself in the big leagues, what more could you have dreamed about for this club and this season?

“It’s been a great experience,” Machado said. “I can’t ask for any better. I’ve got a great group of guys here, a great team. It’s the best experience I’ve had playing baseball.”

I suspect it ranks right up there for Orioles fans watching the experience unfold.

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Orioles-Yankees Game 4 starting lineups and pre-game notes

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Orioles-Yankees Game 4 starting lineups and pre-game notes

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — Needing to win Thursday night to preserve their season for at least another day, the Orioles take the field against the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

Trailing in the best-of-five series by a 2-1 marging, a Baltimore win would force a Game 5 slated for 5:07 p.m. on Friday. However, should the St. Louis Cardinals close out their series with the Washington Nationals on Thursday afternoon, the final game of the Orioles-Yankees series would be moved to 7:07 p.m. on Friday evening.

Here are tonight’s lineups as the Orioles send veteran left-hander Joe Saunders to the hill against New York righty Phil Hughes:

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
DH Jim Thome
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Flaherty
3B Manny Machado

SP Joe Saunders (2012 regular season: 9-13, 4.07 ERA)

NEW YORK
DH Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
RF Nick Swisher
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
SS Jayson Nix

SP Phil Hughes (2012 regular season: 16-13, 4.23 ERA)

Lost in the aftermath of the devastating loss on Wednesday night for the Orioles was Showalter’s announcement that the 31-year-old Saunders had been selected to make the Game 4 start after right-hander Chris Tillman was also being considered for the task. Saunders made one start against the Yankees this season, allowing one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in Baltimore to collect a victory on Sept. 8.

“Joe obviously [is] coming off a real good start in a pressure situation, a game that we had to win, and he’ll find himself back in that spot again,” Showalter said. “Joe is a guy that gives you a chance to win, and he’ll compete, and we feel good with him out there.”

Though Tillman’s overall numbers were better than Saunders this season, Showalter is siding with experience and also considered Saunders’ success against left-handed hitters this season. In 172 plate appearances made by lefty hitters in the regular season, Saunders held them to a .199 batting average and did not allow a home run.

This is difficult to overlook considering the power and production brought to the table by Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and center fielder Curtis Granderson. Cano is 5-for-18 in his career against Saunders while Granderson is 4-for-16 with one home run.

Of course, the Yankees have plenty of intimidating hitters from the right side of the plate, but the leg injury to Derek Jeter — he’ll serve as the designated hitter as a result — and the struggles of third baseman Alex Rodriguez — he’s been dropped to the fifth spot in the order for Game 4 — likely aided in Showalter’s decision to match up against New York’s left-handed hitters.

In six career starts against the Yankees, Saunders is 3-1 with a 5.82 earned run average and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA (six innings) in the Bronx. His only start in New York came at old Yankee Stadium on Aug. 11, 2006.

This will also be Saunders’ second opportunity in six days to pitch for the Orioles in a “win or go home” format as he pitched 5 2/3 strong innings against the Texas Rangers to earn the victory in the wild card play-in game last Friday.

Hughes is 6-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 17 career appearances (14 starts) against Baltimore. In four starts against the Orioles this season, the 25-year-old went 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to Thursday’s game, the Yankees announced that manager Joe Girardi’s father, Jerry, died on Saturday at age 81. Girardi didn’t make the news known to the public. His father had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.

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Orioles beaten at own illogical game in devastating 3-2 loss

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Orioles beaten at own illogical game in devastating 3-2 loss

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Luke Jones

NEW YORK — Sixteen straight wins in extra-inning games.

A 76-0 record when leading after seven innings this season.

Both streaks finished.

All season long, the Orioles have defied logic in completing a 24-game turnaround to win the American League Wild Card to meet the New York Yankees in the Division Series.

Their 3-2 loss in 12 innings at Yankee Stadium was as illogical as anything from which they benefited in the 2012 season. And the crushing defeat leaves them on the verge of elimination as veteran left-hander Joe Saunders will go to the hill to try to keep the Orioles alive in Game 4.

Jim Johnson had faltered only three nights earlier in allowing five runs in the ninth inning of the Orioles’ 7-2 defeat in Game 1. The closer had converted 51 of 54 save opportunities this season to earn his first trip to the All-Star Game. There was no way he’d stumble again with a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning and his work on Monday night reinforced that claim.

He certainly wasn’t supposed to have any trouble against pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez, who Yankees manager Joe Girardi shockingly sent to the plate to bat for the struggling Alex Rodriguez. Lifting the future Hall of Fame third baseman for an admittedly hot-swinging 40-year-old was as bold as any of the curious moves made by the Orioles this season that worked out for no sound reason at all, it seemed.

And Baltimore saw firsthand what it felt like to fall victim to something seeming to be illogical as Ibanez deposited a 1-0 fastball into the right-field seats to tie the game.

“If you make your pitch, it doesn’t really matter,” Johnson said. “That’s what it comes down to. Ibanez, he’s a good low-ball hitter and obviously he has that hook swing. It’s just pitching. You’ve got to pitch down, change speeds and locate.”

The blast meant extra innings, a territory in which the Orioles hadn’t failed since April 11 when they were coming off their second straight loss in extra frames — ironically against the same Yankees — in two nights.

The Baltimore bats remained silent as they had for most of the night before Ibanez stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th against left-hander Brian Matusz.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? Certainly not in extra innings where the Orioles have been king?

Ibanez crushed a Matusz fastball into the right-field seats on the first pitch of the inning, sending the Yankees home happy and up 2-1 in the five-game series, pushing the Orioles to the brink of elimination.

It was difficult to believe as the Orioles discussed in the clubhouse what had just happened to them moments earlier.

“You never want to experience a situation like that,” Matusz said. “Whether it’s a game-winning walk-off home run or in the first inning. The ultimate goal is to go out there and throw strikes and put up zeros. It’s not a good feeling, but you have to stay positive and move forward.”

As much as fans will point to the failures of Johnson and Matusz in not being able to subdue Ibanez’s bat, the Orioles’ inability to generate much of anything offensively doomed their opportunity to take a series lead heading into Game 4. New York pitching retired 21 of 22 Orioles hitters at one point Wednesday night and the club has plated just seven runs in the first three games of the series.

Their two All-Star hitters, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, are by no means the only ones not hitting, but the pair has combined for just three hits in their first 33 postseason at-bats counting the wild card play-in game against the Texas Rangers. A fielding miscue by Jones that led to a run-scoring triple by Derek Jeter certainly didn’t help matters, either.

The Orioles lineup did little — rookies Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado hit solo homers to account for the offensive production — to support the dominating performance from Miguel Gonzalez, who struck out eight and allowed one run in seven innings of work.

The offense simply hasn’t been good enough, and it’s a major reason why the Orioles find their backs to the wall. And the poor production placed them in a position for Girardi to send Ibanez instead of Rodriguez to the plate with a chance to tie the game with one swing.

Even with Rodriguez’s immense struggles, it didn’t seem to make sense to bench the highest paid player in the game, regardless of his struggles.

But it worked.

As a result, the Orioles now face the colossal challenge of winning two straight win-or-go-home games at Yankee Stadium to advance to the AL Championship Series. We’ll see if they’re ready to answer the bell in the way they have countless times this season, albeit with stakes that were never so high.

“It’s pretty much win or go home tomorrow, isn’t it?” Jones said. “There’s pretty much no turning back. We’re going to have the same attitude, the same mentality we’ve had since the first day of spring training. We’re going to have fun, let it fly, and live with the results.”

 

 

 

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Hammel to start potential Game 5 and other Game 4 pre-game notes

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Luke Jones

(Update: Joe Saunders was named the Game 4 starter following the 3-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night.)

NEW YORK — As the Orioles prepared to play Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night, their starting pitcher for Game 4 remained a mystery.

Manager Buck Showalter will wait until after Game 3 to decide between left-hander Joe Saunders and right-hander Chris Tillman to make Thursday’s start at Yankee Stadium. Saunders would be working on five days’ rest while Tillman hasn’t pitched since last Wednesday against Tampa Bay in the final game of the regular season.

“We were kind of hoping you would tell us,” said Saunders, drawing laughter from the media gathered prior to Game 3. “Because we don’t know yet. Whoever it is, me or Chris, we’re going to go out there and do our job.”

To the surprise of nearly everyone outside the organization, Saunders pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card game last Friday to help land the Orioles in the Division Series. Saunders made one start against the Yankees in the regular season, allowing two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings of work at Camden Yards on Sept. 8.

In six career starts against New York, the 31-year-old Saunders is 3-1 with a 5.82 earned run average in 34 innings.

Along with Game 3 starter Miguel Gonzalez, Tillman was one of the biggest surprises of the second half and finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and a 2.93 ERA.

In two starts against the Yankees this season, Tillman was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in eight innings of work. His start at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 2 was cut short after three innings due to elbow stiffness.

Most consider Tillman to be the favorite to receive the ball as long as neither pitcher is required to pitch in relief behind Gonzalez on Wednesday night. However, the challenge of facing lefties such as Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson make the lefty Saunders a more appealing option despite his overall numbers being inferior to Tillman’s this season.

“I think you’ve just got to treat it like any other start,” Tillman said. “You can’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s not fair to yourself [and] not fair to the team.”

In other news, Jason Hammel will receive the ball for Game 5 against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia if necessary on Friday. The two faced off in Game 1, which resulted in a 7-2 win for New York.

Showalter was asked about the decision in August to move left-hander Brian Matusz to the bullpen, who provided a major lift in the absence of then-injured southpaw Troy Patton and with the struggles of power arm Pedro Strop. The Baltimore manager revealed Matusz will likely return to a starting role upon reporting to spring training in Sarasota next February.

“Compared to the options we had and the trade market and some other things, we thought Brian could do as well if not better than some of the others coming in,” Showalter said about the decision. “Brian will more than likely go into the spring as a starter and then we think he can go back and do this [if needed] but he needs to get his innings. It was also a carrot for him to come back to the big leagues, so there was a lot of want-to there.”

NOTES: The Orioles were 6-3 in the Bronx this season, outscoring the Yankees by a 49-32 margin. … Their six wins in New York were their highest season total since winning eight in 1976. Baltimore won all three series in Yankee Stadium in the same year for the first time since 1976. … Making their third appearance in the ALDS, the Orioles are 3-1 on the road with two of those wins coming in Seattle in 1997 and one in Cleveland in 1996. The Orioles won each of those series. … Center fielder Adam Jones was announced as a candidate for the 2012 Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday afternoon. It recognizes the top offensive performers in each league. Fan voting opened at MLB.com Wednesday and runs through Oct. 16. Winners will be announced during the World Series.

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Predictions of Jones, Wieters playing October baseball in New York come true

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Predictions of Jones, Wieters playing October baseball in New York come true

Posted on 09 October 2012 by Luke Jones

There was a time not long ago when many predicted Adam Jones and Matt Wieters would eventually be playing postseason baseball at Yankee Stadium.

The only difference in that prophecy was the Orioles’ center fielder and catcher would be wearing the pinstripes of the New York Yankees after moving on from Baltimore in free agency in a few years. Instead, after an improbable 93-win season, the Orioles head to New York tied 1-1 with Game 3 of the American League Division Series set for Wednesday night.

To survive and advance, the Orioles need only to repeat what they did on three separate occasions at Yankee Stadium in the regular season. Winning two of three means Baltimore advances to play either the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland Athletics in the AL Championship Series.

The Orioles were reminded of their 6-3 record at Yankee Stadium often after their 3-2 victory in Game 2 Monday night, but there was no hubris in describing the task in front of them. The club knows it won’t be easy.

“Everything’s heightened now,” Jones said. “We’ve just got to go there [and] win the inning. It’s not [simply saying], ‘Oh, we need to win Game 3.’ It’s not about that. We need to go out and win every inning of Game 3 first.”

Predictably, the Orioles are viewed as the underdog in this series against the playoff-tested Yankees. It’s understandable when remembering Jones and Wieters were still in grade school the last time Baltimore found itself in this position.

But don’t tell the Orioles they’re the young shepherd boy carrying a sling and a stone into battle against the powerful giant in the Bronx. The analogy doesn’t apply in their minds after finishing only two games behind the Yankees in the AL East and tying the season series at 9-9 this year.

“The David and Goliath or whatever you’re talking about, that’s not something that’s a mentality for us in there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “There are no flukes in baseball. There are no Cinderellas. You play too many games. You play 162 games. And that mentality might go for a short span, but it doesn’t play for very long, believe me.”

The success at Yankee Stadium came at different points in the season as the Orioles finished off three-game series wins in early May, early August and early September. Baltimore outscored New York in those nine games by a 49-32 margin.

The Orioles acknowledged those results in the regular season don’t mean anything now as they walk into a hostile environment to deal with the Yankees’ mystique that can leave opponents intimidated against a club that’s won 27 World Series titles. But the quiet confidence expressed by many players following Game 2 convinced anyone who’s followed the club all season that they won’t be intimidated.

“We played well there, but we haven’t played postseason baseball there,” Jones said. “That’s going to be a totally different atmosphere. Their fans are going to be crazy. Just like our whole stadium was packed full of orange and black, there’s going to be that dark blue. I know there’s going to be some orange and black up there, but you know the scenarios are going to change. It’s going to be their home-field advantage, but we’ve got to go there and try to silence that crowd as much as we can.”

Hearing Jones and Wieters talk about a playoff trip to Yankee Stadium has been surreal for anyone who dared dream of the Orioles finding themselves in the postseason over the last few years. Many feared Jones and Wieters would be long gone by the time the club would be in a position to play October baseball.

Of course, much of that trepidation disappeared earlier this season when Jones inked a six-year, $85.5 million contract extension. Wieters isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, but their long-term commitment to Jones has reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to keeping their young talent in Baltimore.

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles will send left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to the mound in hopes of evening the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at one game apiece.

Here are Monday night’s lineups as the Orioles face off against Yankees veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte for the first time since Sept. 19, 2010. The Baltimore lineup surprisingly includes left-handed designated hitter Jim Thome, who hasn’t faced southpaw pitching very often this season.

The 42-year-old is 5-for-28 against left-handed pitching this season but does have three home runs.

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Jim Thome
3B Manny Machado
2B Robert Andino

SP Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA)

NEW YORK
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Eduardo Nunez

SP Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 ERA)

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Sabathia simply better than Orioles’ top stars in Game 1 defeat

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Sabathia simply better than Orioles’ top stars in Game 1 defeat

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — There’s no magical explanation for why the New York Yankees bested the Orioles in a 7-2 final to take Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Sunday night.

It wasn’t the wrong tactical decision by manager Buck Showalter or bad luck that cost the Orioles against their AL East rival.

The Yankees’ future Hall of Fame starting pitcher CC Sabathia was simply better than anything the Orioles had to offer in return. The burly left-hander delivered when it mattered most while Baltimore’s All-Star trio of Jim Johnson, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters couldn’t get the job done in the game’s final two innings.

Johnson surrendered a leadoff home run to Yankees catcher Russell Martin on a 2-0 fastball up in the strike zone and gave up five runs (four earned) to turn a nail-biter into a laugher by the time the Orioles collected the final out in the top of the ninth inning.

“I made a mistake, obviously to Martin, and a couple of other mistakes over the middle of the plate and we paid for it,” Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate after the effort we got out of everybody else that I didn’t hold my end of the bargain.”

But Johnson wasn’t alone as the Orioles had their chances to surge ahead against Sabathia, but the veteran southpaw made big pitches when he needed them late in the game. Baltimore tried to break a 2-2 tie by getting a runner in scoring position in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings, but Sabathia was at his best when the Orioles threatened to retake the lead.

Collecting his eighth career win in the postseason, Sabathia held the Orioles to two earned runs over 8 2/3 innings, striking out seven and stranding the potential go-ahead run in scoring position after a leadoff double by J.J. Hardy in the eighth inning.

Jones struck out swinging on a 2-2 cutter for the first out before Wieters fouled out to first baseman Mark Teixeira as the All-Star hitters could not give the Orioles the lead. First baseman Mark Reynolds grounded to short to end the threat before the Yankees’ bats surged ahead in the final inning.

“We had our chances,” Showalter said. “We had some some chances there, some good people up that had solid years for us, and it’s more a tribute to [Sabathia] than any detraction from our guys.”

Despite some exercising 20-20 hindsight after the series-opening loss, there was no reason to preserve Johnson for extra innings because the possibility of a save situation didn’t exist playing extra frames at Camden Yards. Even with his ninth-inning struggles in Arlington, you don’t shy away from your best reliever who allowed just one run over his last 26 innings and gave up only three home runs all year over 68 2/3 innings of work in the regular season.

You can count on one hand the number of times Johnson didn’t come through for the Orioles this season and still have fingers remaining. The latest occurrence just happened to come at the wrong time for his club.

Others — including Hall of Fame shortstop and TBS analyst Cal Ripken — called for Jones to bunt in the eighth inning with Hardy standing on second with nobody out. While it wouldn’t have been a bad play had Showalter called for his center fielder to lay one down, you can understand the decision to allow his best hitter to swing away with a runner already in scoring position and Wieters and Reynolds not exactly sporting stellar career numbers against Sabathia. There’s also the argument Jones had various ways to move the runner to third even if he couldn’t collect a hit.

Jones hadn’t laid down a sacrifice bunt all season and entered the night with a .341 average in 41 career at-bats against the Yankees left-hander. Even if he does advance Hardy to third, critics are then questioning the Baltimore manager for taking the bat out of the hands of the team’s most valuable hitter if Wieters and Reynolds don’t come through. A Jones bunt may have also led Yankees manager Joe Girardi to walk Wieters intentionally, leading to the strikeout-prone Reynolds and the rookie Manny Machado being the ones needing to cash in. It’s not exactly a successful trip through the order with both your No. 3 and 4 hitters having the bat taken out of their hands.

Going to Johnson in a tie game in the ninth and allowing Jones to swing away in the eighth weren’t the wrong moves. You don’t suddenly change who you are and what brought you here just because you’re playing in the postseason.

The Orioles’ top guys simply didn’t come through while Sabathia did.

When the chips were down late in the game, the Yankees pitcher was simply better than the best on which the Orioles have counted all season long.

The home loss makes Monday’s Game 2 that much more critical for the Orioles to win, with rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen going to the mound against the 40-year-old Andy Pettitte. There’s plenty of baseball to play in the five-game series, but the Orioles’ failure to come through on Sunday night made their road to the American League Championship Series that much more difficult.

Now faced with the task of winning three of their next four possible games against the Yankees — and the final three being played in the Bronx — to take the series, the Orioles backs are once again against the wall. And in case you’d forgotten, they’re used to it.

In fact, they embrace it.

“That is why we play five games,” Johnson said. “Every time we take the field we are going to compete. We are going to play hard. Obviously, it’s an unfortunate way to lose this first game, especially at home. So like I said, we’ve battled all year. Why would we make it easy now?”

 

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Steve Johnson’s health factors into decision to keep him off roster

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Steve Johnson’s health factors into decision to keep him off roster

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Manager Buck Showalter decided to sleep on it before finalizing his 25-man roster for the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

Even then, he admitted it was a very difficult process to leave several good arms off the roster, including pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton.

“It’s hard to handicap what’s more particularly [difficult] — this guy or that guy — they’re all hard,” Showalter said. “We put a lot of thought with keeping mind you have to be cautious if you have an issue physically with somebody.”

The decision to leave the local product Johnson off the roster was especially difficult with his contributions down the stretch as a starter filling in for Game 1 starter Jason Hammel. Making four starts and appearing in 12 games this season, Johnson went 4-0 with a 2.11 earned run average in 38 1/3 innings.

However, the rookie injured his left knee after landing awkwardly from taking a comebacker hit by Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on Sept. 29. Johnson deemed himself ready to go this week and would have likely started a potential division tiebreaker against the Yankees on Thursday had the Orioles finished in a tie at the end of the regular season, but some uncertainty remained in the mind of Showalter.

“As good as we think Steve could feel, there’s some unknown there with the knee,” Showalter said. “But, we’re going to keep him here. We’re going to send probably a couple guys down to Sarasota to the instructional league to be in that camp there, but we’ll decide that after the game. Every one of those guys, as I told them today, has to have the mindset that they’re playing tomorrow, because they could be.”

Johnson will remain on call should there be a health issue with Hammel or another pitcher on the 25-man roster while a few others such as Britton and outfielder Xavier Avery will be sent to Sarasota to compete in the instructional league to stay sharp in case they’re needed later in the postseason.

For Sunday night’s game, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman will be available out of the bullpen if necessary. Gonzalez is tentatively slated to start Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles elected to keep Tommy Hunter on the 25-man roster as a power right-handed arm and potential long reliever. He has pitched effectively in relief, posting a 0.71 ERA out of the bullpen in 12 2/3 innings covering 10 September appearances.

“If we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too,” Showalter said. “He’s certainly done that since he’s pitched out of the pen. He can give us some length out of there if we need it. The off day plays into it a lot.”

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Orioles, Yankees ALDS Game 1 rosters, lineups

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Orioles, Yankees ALDS Game 1 rosters, lineups

Posted on 07 October 2012 by WNST Staff

Here is the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup for Game of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees…

Nate McLouth LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Mark Reynolds 1B
Manny Machado 3B
Chris Davis RF
Lew Ford DH
Robert Andino 2B

Jason Hammel SP

Here is the Orioles’ full 25 man ALDS roster… 

INFIELDERS/OUTFIELDERS/DH (11)

Robert Andino INF

Endy Chavez OF

Chris Davis RF

Ryan Flaherty INF

Lew Ford OF

JJ Hardy SS

Adam Jones CF

Manny Machado 3B

Nate McLouth OF

Mark Reynolds 1B

Jim Thome DH

CATCHERS (2)

Taylor Teagarden CA

Matt Wieters CA

PITCHERS (12)

Luis Ayala RHP

Wei-Yin Chen LHP

Miguel Gonzalez RHP

Jason Hammel RHP

Tommy Hunter RHP

Jim Johnson RHP

Brian Matusz LHP

Darren O’Day RHP

Troy Patton LHP

Joe Saunders LHP

Pedro Strop RHP

Chris Tillman RHP

Here is the Yankees’ lineup for Game 1…

Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Raul Ibanez DH

C.C. Sabathia SP

Here is the Yankees’ full 25 man ALDS roster…

PITCHERS
Chamberlain, Joba
Hughes, Phil
Kuroda, Hiroki
Logan, Boone
Lowe, Derek
Pettitte, Andy
Phelps, David
Rapada, Clay
Robertson, David
Sabathia, CC
Soriano, Rafael

CATCHERS
Martin, Russell
Stewart, Chris

INFIELDERS
Cano, Robinson
Chavez, Eric
Jeter, Derek
Nix, Jayson
Nunez, Eduardo
Rodriguez, Alex
Teixeira, Mark

OUTFIELDERS
Gardner, Brett
Granderson, Curtis
Ibanez, Raul
Suzuki, Ichiro
Swisher, Nick

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Perry Hall guidance counselor to throw out first pitch for Game 1 of ALDS

Posted on 07 October 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE — The opening game of the American League Division Series will begin with a salute to a local hero.

Sunday’s ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Perry Hall High School guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, who will be accompanied by Perry Hall student Daniel Borowy, in what’s sure to be an emotional scene.

On Aug. 27, after Borowy was shot in the back by another student in the school cafeteria, Wasmer responded quickly and bravely to tackle the gunman, preventing further injury to anyone else.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m.

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