YANKEES 4, ORIOLES 3
Before the first pitch was delivered at Camden Yards on Friday night, Baltimore Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer said on MASN that it was a good thing for Orioles closer Koji Uehara that Nick Swisher was not in the lineup.
The bad news for Uehara and the Orioles was that Alex Rodriguez was in the lineup and he hit a three-run home run into the left-field bleachers that rescued the Yankees from a 3-1 ninth-inning deficit with the New York Yankees a strike away from defeat.
The miraculous and dramatic home run, Rodriguez’s second of the night and the his 24th of the season, was the second consecutive game between the two teams that Uehara had blown a save by giving up a home run in the ninth inning.
On Sept. 8 at Yankee Stadium, Swisher blasted a two-run walk-off home run off Uehara (1-2) with one out in the ninth inning. Uehara has nine saves in 11 chances this season and both blown saves have come against the Yankees. Uehara’s two losses this season also come courtesy of the Yankees.
The victory was fortuitous for the Yankees because the Tampa Bay Rays dropped a 4-3 decision to the Los Angeles Angels and it allowed the Yankees to reclaim first place in the American League East.
With the Twins’ 3-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees also have reclaimed the best record in baseball at 89-58.
David Robertson (4-4), who pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief of starter A.J. Burnett, was credited with the victory. Mariano Rivera pitched a similarly perfect ninth inning to notch the 557th save his career and his 31st of the season in 34 chances.
Before the ninth inning, the Yankees’ only dent in the scoreboard came from Rodriguez, who led off the second inning with a towering blast to left-field off Orioles starter Kevin Millwood that gave the Yankees a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Millwood got stingy after that, holding the Yankees to the one run on five hits and four walks in seven innings.
But when Uehara took the mound, the Yankees finally got busy. Jorge Posada battled Uehara in an epic 11-pitch at-bat that resulted in a lined single to left-center. After Derek Jeter struck out, Curtis Granderson singled to right-field.
Mark Teixeira then popped up to third baseman Robert Andino to set the stage for Rodriguez’s two-out heroics.
The Yankees now lead the major leagues in come-from-behind victories this season with 46. This one, due to A-Rod, may have been one of their best.
- Despite the fact that he was victimized by a hit batter that scored the Orioles’ first run and a pair of solo home runs by Adam Jones and Andino, Burnett actually pitched a very creditable game. Over seven innings, Burnett gave up three runs on six hits and a walk and he struck out five.
- Rodriguez was 2-for-5 with two home runs and he drove in all of the Yankees’ four runs. That gives Rodriguez 25 home runs and 111 RBIs this season. If Rodriguez hits five more home runs, it will mark the 14th straight season in which he has produced at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
- Robinson Cano and Lance Berkman combined for four hits and walk but they did not get much support from the bottom of the order behind them. The bottom of the order was 1-for-8 before Posada entered the game in the seventh inning and walked. Cano is hitting .481 against the Orioles at Camden Yards this season.
- Burnett still needs work on his command and he really needs to try harder to keep base-runners a little more honest. Burnett hit weak-hitting Cesar Izturis on an 0-2 pitch to start the third inning. Izturis promptly stole second, advanced to third on a Brian Roberts’ groundout and scored on Nick Markakis sacrifice fly. Burnett also hit Jones on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh inning but he was erased on a double play.
- Who is the Yankees’ worst batter to have up with the bases loaded this season? The answer is Jeter. He has only one hit all season with the bases loaded. In the second inning, Jeter lined out hard — but it still was an out — with the bases loaded in the second inning.
- The Yankees also had a great opportunity to score in the seventh and eighth innings with two runners on. However, Teixeira struck out to end the seventh and Swisher, who was pinch-hitting, and Brett Gardner bounced out to end that threat.
Swisher is still have lingering issues associated with his bruised left knee and he missed his fifth straight start on Friday night. He did pinch-hit in the eighth inning and grounded out to first b
ase. Manager Joe Girardi said Swisher still is not running well but that the veteran outfielder is closer to returning. . . . Burnett pitched on Friday night with a black right eye and both he and Girardi refused to discuss it with the media after the game. “The story is, he putched well tonight,” Girardi said. . . . Orioles manager Buck Showalter was not happy that Ted Barrett did not call an inside 1-2 pitch on Alex Rodriguez a strike, which would have ended the game. Barrett called it a ball as the Orioles’ players in the dugout were jumping up thinking the game was over. Showalter told reporters that the pitch was closer to being a strike than a strike Barrett called on Matt Wieters in the bottom of the inning. Well, let me clue Mr. Showalter in on the truth about strike one that Barrett called on Rodriguez. It was high and inside and the pitch tracker on MASN indicated it was more than six inches inside. So, if Mr, Showalter wants the 1-2 pitch as a strike, the Yankees would like the 0-1 pitch to be called a ball. In that case, it still would be 2-2 on Rodriguez and Rodriguez hits his game-winning home run. Nice try, Buck!
The Yankees go into the second game of their three-game set with the Orioles walking on air after snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat on their last strike on Friday.
They also have CC Sabathia (9-6, 3.03 ERA) on the mound going for the first 20-victory season in his career. Sabathia pitched eight shutout innings against the Rays on Monday night but he did not get his 20th win because David Price matched him zero for zero. But Sabathia has a good chance on Saturday because he is 13-2 with a 2.81 ERA against the Orioles in his career.
His opponent will be right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (10-13, 3.74 ERA). Guthrie is 7-3 with a 2.38 ERA in his last 10 starts. He tossed seven shutout innings against the Tigers last Friday. However, he is 3-8 with a 5.20 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.