While most of tonight’s team doesn’t remember playing with many of the former Yankees on the Baltimore roster tonight, it was interesting to see how everyone is finding their own on these new (looking) teams. CC Sabathia started for the Yankees tonight opposite former Yankee Freddy Garcia. Garcia held his own but was hit with Yankees offense and exited the game after only 6 innings. Sabathia didn’t fare much better, going into the 7th but only getting 1 out in that inning before Kelley came in to close out the inning. While Garcia held off the Yankees with a limited 2 runs off 3 hits, Sabathia allowed the Orioles 11 hits and 4 runs.
The Yankees bullpen kept Baltimore scoreless (including Robertson who earned tonight’s win), while the Orioles’ bullpen allowed the Yankees offense to have some fun. And of course, the save was once again brilliantly earned by a 16 pitch 10th inning by the Ultimate Closer himself Mariano Rivera (he is 17-for-17 this year already).
Speaking of fun, the Yankees really didn’t hit much, but when they did, they certainly made it count. In the 1st inning, Robinson Cano struck first on the scoreboard with a long solo shot out past left-center field. David Adams found his pitch in the 2nd with his first major league home run out to left field just inside of the foul pole. The Orioles then proceeded to tie up the game with a 2nd inning solo shot and 5th inning RBI single (to score former Yankee Steve Pearce). In the 7th, Lyle Overbay hit his 7th home run of the year into the right field seats. In the bottom of that inning, 2 RBI doubles allow the Orioles to jump ahead 4-3.
At this point, most of Baltimore (and the entire press box) assumed that was it for the game going into the 9th inning, the great Yogi was recalled with resonance — “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”, as Travis Hafner sliced a left field homer to tie the game. (I love that the left fielder tried to jump over the fence into the stands to grab the ball!) The Orioles were just stymied by the Yankees bullpen and couldn’t pull off what they knew they needed — a walk-off score of some sort. So when the 10th inning rolled in, the Yankees continued their momentum and instead changed up how they wanted to score runs with a double by Ichiro Suzuki to lay the ground work to score on Vernon Wells’ ground-rule double (now 5-4). Baltimore intentionally walked Cano, but Hafner’s simple single to right field scores Wells for the final score of 6-4. And with Rivera to close out the save, the Orioles just knew they were done. (Also, his last out was against former Yankee Chris Dickerson.)
Okay, yes, there were some seriously questioned calls made, most at 1st base. Some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn’t. I’m usually pretty objective about an out/safe call, even if it goes our way. If you get a call in your favor, but it’s really not right, you feel like you’re kind of stealing that play. It’s cheating, really. And of course, it really stinks when you don’t get the call you rightly deserve. What I found interesting though, at least in this game, was that none of those plays really made much a difference. Those called safe never made it home or advanced much because of who followed up behind them and how they played and got out.
I can’t imagine how this game was played without umpires, like it was originally. The honor system must have been frequently put to the test. And with recent (let’s call them) “hiccups” with umpires, I’m sure there are some who may wish we didn’t have umpires in the game. But in this game of much more complex rules and strategies, the game is no longer a simple sandlot kind of game. And perhaps it is the human element that encourages a level of player excellence. There are many easy calls made by the umpires because a play is made clean, a sign that not only is (for example) a batter hitting a ball cleanly but the fielders are cleanly fielding, throwing, and tagging. But when (following the example) a ball is hit sloppily or the fielding is off or wonky, it throws the play into a less than excellent execution and immediately increases the level of human error making the umpire’s call tougher. It’s amazing how many things can be solved just by playing with excellence. So perhaps that is the ultimate life lesson out of this: live and do things at a level of excellence and you won’t run the risk of plays (use whatever life application you need to) being called the other way or against you.
Also, I’d like to say a quick note about the tornado that hit Oklahoma today. We are praying for a quick rescue for those who are still trapped and a quick healing for those who are injured. And we pray for the families of those who lost loved ones and the rescuers as they must search for every last person through the horrendous damage. Tonight, our hearts and prayers are with all of you in Oklahoma. Tragedy continues to strike our nation in various forms, but we are a nation of people who fight for and seek good and peace in the midst of any storm. Stay strong. You have been with us through everything else, and now we are with you.
Go Yankees! (And pray for Oklahoma!)