Last night, the Baltimore Orioles played their longest game of the season – 12 innings – and lost to the New York Yankees, 5-4.
The Orioles have lost two in a row. They blew opportunity after opportunity on Tuesday and the Yankees won the game in the top of the eleventh as pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez drilled a ground-rule double to right off reliever Pedro Strop – who took the loss.
Strop allowed Cano to reach base and advance to second off a groundout by Alex Rodriguez before Ibanez’s fatal blow.
Former Oriole Clay Rapada earned the victory, and Mariano Rivera earned the save, the first of the season and the 604th of his long career. Rivera was flat-out dominant, and even at his advanced age, the Orioles seemingly had little chance once he came in.
Well, the big story of the night was the debut of Wei-Yin Chen. In his major league debut, Chen held his own against the Yankees until the sixth inning. Overall, he gave up four runs – two earned – in 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked one. He does not light up the radar gun, but used a mix of off-speed stuff and disrupting the batter’s timing to get outs.
Chen shows you the velocity on your pitches isn’t everything – but location is.
He gave up a leadoff homer to Derek Jeter in first inning and struggled in the frame, but kept the Yankees at bay for much of his start.
The trouble for Chen came in the sixth inning as the veteran New York lineup made things difficult. Down 4-1 at the time, they scored three runs in the frame as they loaded the bases and Andruw Jones fly-out and a costly Mark Reynolds at third error tied the game.
Matt Lindstrom came into the game and stopped any more damage, but the shaky sixth inning combined with Reynolds’ gaffe perhaps cost Baltimore on the night. New York nearly scored another run in the frame, but J.J. Hardy nailed Nick Swisher at home to end the threat.
The Orioles had the upper hand early though, as Yankee starter Freddy Garcia was just awful. He uncorked five wild pitches – quite unusual for a pitcher who depends on location and finesse – and gave up a solo homer to J.J. Hardy in the first; furthermore, he allowed runs to score on wild pitches in the first and fifth innings.
The bottom for the Orioles is this: if they are to beat teams like the Yankees – ok, anyone – they need to cut down on the mistakes, take advantage of opportunities and finish off opponents. The sixth inning was key, but the Orioles also had scoring opportunities in the ninth, but blew it; however, again, Reynolds error was a key moment in the game.
Not to harp on Reynolds, but his fielding has been suspect since the beginning of last season. Yesterday’s game didn’t dissuade critics at all.
If his problems keep continuing at the hot corner, the team might need to work on run prevention at that position and get someone better.