Game 138: BAL vs. NYY — Status quo ante

Oh, there was so much going into this game that held such hope. Actually, for most of the game, it was still there. And then it just wasn’t. And it wasn’t like the Orioles played all that well (with a few minor exceptions) in tonight’s finale of their mid-week series. (Truth be told, the Orioles played like the Orioles that have been warming the middle of the AL East division for the last few months.) It was just one of those games, I guess.

CC Sabathia was activated from the DL before tonight’s game, which was a good thing as he’s been scheduled to pitch tonight’s game for about a week now. And for all the hesitancy that could have happened on his return from resting that knee, he threw a pretty good game. Overall, he threw 85 pitches into the 5th inning, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs (though only 1 was earned), and striking out 5 batters. In the 1st, the lead-off batter walked, moved to 2nd and then 3rd on consecutive ground outs, and then scored on a single.

The Yankees answered back in the bottom of 1st with Carlos Beltran’s 2-out solo home run to left field. And then pounced in the 3rd inning on the Orioles’ starter — Gregorius was hit by a pitch, Drew singled, and then Ellsbury hit into a force ground out to get Drew out at 2nd and put runners on the corners. Then Ellsbury had to prove his speed and stole 2nd to put himself and Gregorius in scoring position. A very good call because one strikeout later, Beltran singled and scored both Gregorius and Ellsbury to push the Yankees over the Orioles.

But in the 5th, Sabathia succumbed to his bookend pattern (rough on the edges but snazzy in the middle) — another lead-off walk, a single, and then a sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position. But then he got a much-needed strikeout (to the Orioles’ best hitter), and things were looking up for the Yankees. And then getting the next batter into a 1-2 count, Sabathia needed one more strike to end the inning, but instead hit the batter and loaded the bases. Sabathia’s night was over, but he was looking at a win as he walked off the mound (albeit slightly frustrated) to a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium.

Adam Warren to the mound. The batter then hit into an easy out — a little grounder to Headley who threw to Drew at 2nd. But Drew bobbled the ball, and it rolled into short center field. Two runs scored and the game was tied. All that hard work and Sabathia suddenly was looking at a no-decision. Warren would go on to throw a total of 47 pitches to close the 5th and on into the 8th inning. It was in that inning that he officially earned the loss with a 1-out solo home run hit into the visitor’s bullpen.

Now, it was Nick Rumbelow’s turn to hold off the Orioles, first closing out the 8th inning, but then walking the lead-off batter in the 9th and thus responsible for him. James Pazos came on in relief for Rumbelow to throw 3 pitches and get the batter to hit into a sacrifice bunt, moving the runner to 2nd. And it was onto Bryan Mitchell to finish out the 9th. Mitchell promptly walked his first batter and then gave up a ground-rule double to score the lead runner (this particular player scored 3 of the Orioles’ 5 runs tonight). And then he followed with 2 outs to finally shut down the Orioles’ last-game offense.

The Yankees were apparently grasping at straws hoping for a last inning rally themselves. But the one thing Baltimore has going for it is its bullpen. Between the 8th and 9th inning relievers, the Orioles’ bullpen gave up no hits, no runs, and no walks to the Yankee batters in just 26 pitches.

Final score: 5-3 Orioles. Baltimore wins the series 2-1.

Now for the good news… Toronto lost their game tonight too, so the standings remain the same — Toronto leads the AL East by just 1 game over the Yankees.

And the bad (maybe good?) news… Toronto is coming to town for a 4-game weekend series. It is the first part of the last 7 games these teams play against each other, and in the battle for the AL East, these are the games that truly count. This weekend (and next weekend’s games in Toronto) will truly shift the AL East and pretty much define what the postseason will look like. Neither team is going away quietly into the night, and both teams are looking a little ragged as we age into the last bit of the season. It’s still anyone’s game really.

Also, MLB has released a tentative schedule for the 2016 season — the Yankees are opening and closing at home next year. The schedule is still developing and has to sync with broadcasting rights with the various networks (ESPN, FOX, Fox Sports 1, MLB Network, TBS, and New York stations like PIX 11 and YES). A final schedule should be out sometime around the beginning of the postseason.

Author’s note: The Yankees lost on my birthday again. And it’s rather disappointing. On the bright side, I got to sit next to this kid (and his dad) who was at his first Yankees game ever and had the time of his life (even got a certificate from the Yankees to mark the occasion). It was certainly the highlight of the evening (yes, even more than the Beltran home run) because it serves as a reminder of what’s so important about baseball — sharing a game with the next generation, teaching them how to be a good fan, and introducing them to not only this great sport but also a great team. It was amazing.

Go Yankees!

{Note: The title of today’s blog Status Quo Ante literally means “the state of affairs that existed previously”, referring to the AL East standings.}





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