Tag Archive | "CC Sabathia"

Machado’s key play allows Orioles to turn tables on Yankees

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Machado’s key play allows Orioles to turn tables on Yankees

Posted on 29 June 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — Manny Machado knew he was taking a major chance.

Tagging up from second base with two outs and the Orioles trailing the New York Yankees by a run in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday night seemed hardly worth the risk to only move up 90 feet with your cleanup hitter coming to the plate.

Conventional baseball wisdom screams that you never make the final out at third base, but sometimes you need to push the envelope against an ace like CC Sabathia, who hadn’t allowed a hit through the first five innings. Manager Buck Showalter said afterward that you can’t become “a prisoner to the book” in those rare moments as Machado followed his two-run double earlier in the inning with the aggressive decision to move up to third.

“It’s a do-or-die play. It’s something that Buck allows us to do — to play our game,” Machado said. “If you have a shot for it, go for it. I wanted to take the extra base.”

It was an eyebrow-raising decision that paid off as Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner made the catch flat-footed on J.J. Hardy’s fly ball to medium deep left-center and Machado slid into third ahead of the throw, moving 90 feet closer to home plate. Moments later, Adam Jones sent a dribbler down the first-base line for an infield single, allowing Machado to cross the plate with the tying run.

The 20-year-old wouldn’t have scored on the play had he not made the bold baserunning decision.

The good fortune was a case of preparation meeting opportunity as the Orioles tied the game and ultimately completed a 4-3 comeback win to open a three-game set and move a game ahead of the Yankees in the loss column for second place in the American League East.

Machado’s play was reminiscent of the countless times the Yankees would take advantage of a moment of weakness, with shortstop Derek Jeter headlining the list of players to do it against the Orioles time after time. Like clockwork, the underdog Orioles would work to build an early lead in many games prior to last year, only to see the Yankees chip away and ultimately surge ahead in the late innings for a demoralizing loss.

Of course, the Orioles have no reason to be intimidated by the Yankees these days as the division rivals are tied 15-15 since the start of the 2012 season, including the five games played in the American League Division Series last October. Friday night was the latest example of Baltimore turning the tables against an injury-plagued Yankees club.

“I tell guys all the time, if you feel something, you’ve got a good feel, go for it,” said Showalter about Machado’s tag-up. “I have the other part of it after it’s over, but I’m going to be upset if you feel something and don’t go for it. That’s the type of intelligent recklessness you have to have.”

Nate McLouth delivered the big blow an inning later as he homered over the right-field scoreboard to give the Orioles the lead for the first time all night. The game-winning homer brought back memories of last year’s ALDS Game 5 when he hit a potential game-tying drive off Sabathia in the sixth inning that was ruled foul despite the Orioles’ claims that it nicked the right-field foul pole at Yankee Stadium.

The left fielder wasn’t interested in revisiting that call but was asked whether he thought back to that moment last October as he was rounding first base.

“I wasn’t out of batter’s box before I thought that,” McLouth said. “Off the bat, I knew it had the distance. It stayed true, it stayed straight, and I was happy about that.”

The Orioles were also happy with the relief work of rookie Kevin Gausman, who followed T.J. McFarland’s rough start with 4 1/3 shutout innings to keep the early deficit at 3-0 and make the eventual comeback possible. The 22-year-old earned his first major league victory in the process.

Tommy Hunter followed Gausman’s effort with two dominating innings to earn his second career save as closer Jim Johnson received a second night off after working three consecutive games earlier in the week.

It wasn’t a dominating performance by any means, but the Orioles were just a little bit better — possibly as little as 90 extra feet in the case of Machado’s sixth-inning decision.

An early deficit, a critical play or two to orchestrate a comeback, and rock-solid bullpen work to seal the victory. The Yankees painfully showed them that sequence for so many years, reminding that it’s often the little things that lead to big wins.

But the Orioles quickly reminded everyone that even a victory over Sabathia is only as significant as the next day.

“It’s big to win against their No. 1 in the first game of the series,” Machado said, “but it’s a new game tomorrow.”

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Orioles-Yankees lineups and pre-game notes for Game 5 of ALDS

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Orioles-Yankees lineups and pre-game notes for Game 5 of ALDS

Posted on 12 October 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 3:55 p.m.)

NEW YORK — It all comes down to one game as the Orioles and Yankees finish off an incredible American League Division Series in the deciding Game 5 on Friday at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles will send Jason Hammel to the mound against New York’s CC Sabathia in a pitching rematch from Game 1 of the series last Sunday. Pitching in his first game in nearly a month, Hammel pitched well over 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing two earned runs and four hits while displaying some shaky control with four walks.

Sabathia earned the victory in game one as he allowed two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings of work to rebound from a mediocre showing against Baltimore in the regular season. The big left-hander makes his 17th career postseason start and is exactly who manager Joe Girardi wanted on the mound in a deciding game.

As for the state of the Orioles bullpen after 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Thursday night’s Game 4 win, manager Buck Showalter anticipated having all relievers available prior to the start of batting practice. Showalter revealed left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Chris Tillman were also available to pitch in relief for Game 5. Those two would be the most likely candidates to pitch a potential Game 1 in Detroit on Saturday if the Orioles were to win and advance to the AL Championship Series.

Showalter explained that he regularly asks pitchers how they’re feeling but he ultimately makes the decision whether an individual is available in any given game.

“You don’t put them in that position [to choose],” Showalter said. “I haven’t heard anything that would make me think people are not available. Don’t hold me to it. We can gain something, hear something, find out something between now and game time, but so far so good.”

The biggest names in question for Game 5 are right-handed setup man Darren O’Day, left-hander Brian Matusz, and closer Jim Johnson. O’Day threw 30 pitches in his 2 2/3 innings of work on Thursday night and has appeared in all four games of the series.

Matusz only threw five pitches in Game 4, but he has also been used in all four games of the series and it remains to be seen if Showalter would be willing to use a pitcher still getting acclimated to a relief role for a third straight day. The young left hasn’t appeared in game three straight days since moving to the bullpen.

Johnson has also received extensive work in the series — appearing in all four games — but his 14 pitches to close out the 13th inning on Thursday night were a reasonable amount, making one assume he’d be available for an inning in Game 5 without many reservations.

There were no major surprises in the Baltimore lineup as Lew Ford will start in place of Jim Thome as the designated hitter and Robert Andino will play second base instead of Ryan Flaherty with the tough left-hander on the mound for the Yankees.

However, the Yankees made the bold decision to bench third baseman — and the highest paid player in the league — Alex Rodriguez for the start of the deciding Game 5. The 37-year-old is 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts in the series and will be replaced by Eric Chavez at third base despite the fact that Rodriguez has four career home runs against Hammel.

Game 3 hero Raul Ibanez was back in the lineup for the Yankees, batting fifth and serving as the designated hitter.

Here are Friday’s lineups …

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

SP Jason Hammel (2012 regular season: 8-6, 3.43 ERA)

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

SP CC Sabathia (2012 regular season: 15-6, 3.38 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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I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

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I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

There is no 15-7-0 this week. I’m a man with priorities.

My priorities Sunday were quite simple. I wanted to get through pre-game and post-game shows, enjoy a Ravens win and get to Oriole Park at Camden Yards as quickly as possible to watch a playoff game with my family.

At the end of the night, those priorities were realities even if the day didn’t play out exactly the way we had hoped it would.

Sunday night was everything baseball in Baltimore should be. It was an incredible gathering of friends and family for a vitally important civic event in a town where family names have baseball connections. We’re familiar with these types of nights in Baltimore, we just know them as “football games”. We’ve waited not so patiently for another one on the baseball diamond for a decade and a half.

It finally came Sunday night and it was absolutely as intense and electric and meaningful as any lifelong (or even Johnny-come-lately) Baltimore Orioles fan could have imagined it would be.

You know what’s amazing? I stood in the outfield for two hours during a rain delay and never heard a single complaint. Not about the lines for beer, not about the weather itself, not about the massive crowds making it difficult to maneuver or find space to stand comfortably.

Hell, we had waited 15 years. What’s another couple of hours?

After the New York Yankees were introduced to a less than partial crowd, there was a break before introducing the home team to their fans. The break might have been mere seconds, but it felt like time stood still. I remember the first time being alone with a girl at 16 years old, but I don’t remember my anticipation ever being as great as it was in those moments. The opportunity to show appreciation for ending one of the most miserable runs a fan base has experienced was a moment not soon to be forgotten.

That moment was followed up by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Perry Hall High School shooting victim Daniel Borowy and guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, the man who stepped in and defined heroism in fending off the shooter that August morning. As a PHHS grad who has remained very close to the school in recent years (and who both went to school with and grew up down the street from Jesse to boot), I will admit that I lost it a bit during the moment. Even those without Gators ties could certainly revel in the significance of the occasion. THIS is truly a representation of what Orioles baseball should be. The most important things happening in our community should be tied to, recognized by and celebrated with the franchise that has remained in our city since 1954.

This was a moment that far transcended sports.

As Game 1 of the ALDS went along, it felt like every pitch was the most important ever thrown in the history of the sport. Each tantalizing inch around the plate was crucial, with fans hanging on every centimeter afforded to CC Sabathia but taken away from Jason Hammel. When the Birds were able to break through and plate two runs off the bat of Nate McLouth in the 3rd inning the staff at OPACY could have set off actual fireworks and they might have gone unnoticed by a crowd that could only be described as bat-sh*t bonkers.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Orioles 2012: This Year, Next Year, or Both?

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Orioles 2012: This Year, Next Year, or Both?

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Robert Testoni

As I wrote in an earlier blog, one of the best parts of the game of baseball is that for the most part the 162 games separate the pretenders for contenders. The way that things have been going for our birds, I do not see them getting to 81 wins, as constructed right now. I am also a firm believer that deadline trades do little more than cost you as compared the value you get out of them. The best of these deals in the past 20 years has been CC Sabathia to the Brewers. He gave them 6.7 wins above replacement. Most of the better trades hover somewhere around 3. Will 3 to 5 wins make the Orioles a playoff team? What are you willing to give up for those 3-5 wins? These are interesting questions that Dan Duquette has to muddle through in this next 2 weeks.

Buck Showalter has been a miracle worker as he has kept this team in contention with the worst defense in the league, and a minus 36 run differential. Only Minnesota and Kansas City are worse in the league. I think it has helped that the Yankees, Rangers, and Angels of late, are the only teams that have separated themselves from the pack. The Birds are finished playing the Angels, and have 3 left with the Rangers and 9 with the Yankees. That means the birds have 65 games left against average competition. That itself, should keep them competitive at least into late August. Considering what we have lived with for the last 15 years that is a win for everyone involved including the team, fans, and the local starving businesses. Let look at some of the rumors that have been floated out in the media.

I believe Duquette can make some moves that can keep this team in contention for the Wild Card. Let’s get real; they are not winning the Division. A pitcher like Zach Greinke seems to be out of the question. The cost would be too prohibitive to be worth it. He would give us about 12 starts and if he is on top of his game, maybe 8 wins? More than likely, he is good and we get 6 wins. Whomever he replaces, Matusz, Arieta, Hunter etc… would probably win 2 by accident. Is that 4 to 6 game difference worth what you have to give up? Trust me, Bundy and Machado will be center of the conversation. Also remember he is not signed past this year. Thank you, but I will pass on this one.

Of all the rumors, I look to the Chicago Cubs and either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza. I do not have an issue about taking Alfonso Soriano because he can still hit. Yes, you have the contract for the next couple of years, but he is a hits the ball better than anyone we have in left field. Frankly, money should not be the issue either since they have save millions since the inception of MASN. Dempster will come cheaper, in players needed to give up, than Garza and you have the ability to be free of him at the end of the year if it does not work out. Although on the disabled list, he is just about ready to come back and doesn’t have a history of injuries. The best part of getting Dempster and Soriano is that you more than likely do not have to give up the untouchables, Bundy, Machado, Jones, and Weiters.

Whatever happens, it is going to be interesting and telling next couple of weeks for Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter and the Orioles. The playoffs are not out of the question because of the mediocrity of most of the field. What, if any moves will they make to get those 5-6 wins they need to part of the mix. I am sure we all will be watching, and that is an improvement from most of the last 15 years.

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