There were so many side stories to last night’s 7-1 Oriole win at Yankee Stadium that I really don’t know where to begin. First and foremost perhaps, from the perspective of Oriole fans it’s always good to beat the evil empire. Brian Matusz also knotted his first victory of 2012, which broke a 12-decision/game losing streak that led the majors (dating back to last year). Last but not least, manager Buck Showalter won his 1,000th game as a big league manager. Ironically, it came against the team with whom he won his first game.
Matusz found himself down early after giving up a solo home run to Curtis Granderson in the first. At the time I tweeted that after hanging a breaking ball as such and having it hit that far a pitcher had to get right back on his horse. To his eternal credit, that’s exactly what Brian Matusz did. Matusz’s final stat line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K. After the homer Matusz seemed to go directly after Yankee hitters with a certain grit and bravado that we’ve rarely seen by the Orioles against NY in the past. The attitude seemed to be “if I’m going to go down, at least I’m going to do it while giving it my all.” After Matusz’s departure, the Oriole bullpen once again showed why it’s currently the best in baseball. Darren O’Day and Luis Ayala combined to pitch 2.2 innings and gave up one hit, one walk, and struck out two.
The key in this game was that the O’s got great hitting and great pitching. After NY took the lead the Orioles tied it right back up in the top of the second with a Chris Davis home run. In the third J.J. Hardy bopped a two-run homer to put the Orioles up for good. The thing that struck me was that the Orioles and Yankees seemed to switch roles at least for one night; little things seemed to snowball on the Yankees, while the Orioles got out of what few jams in which they found themselves. In the top of the 6th Matt Wieters was hit by a pitch with two down; he went to second on a Chris Davis single, and scored on Wilson Betemit’s single. Betemit and Davis scored by virtue of Nick Johnson getting on due to an error. That one little thing (Wieters getting hit) turned into a disaster if you’re a Yankee fan. As a footnote, Nick Johnson broke his 0-for-the season streak in the top of the eighth with a double.
The O’s will send Jake Arrieta to the bump in tonight’s series finale as they try to take two-of-three from NY. Arrieta is of course coming off of two somewhat suspect outings, and hasn’t won a game since opening day. In his past two games (vs. L.A. Angels, and vs. Oakland) it seems that Arrieta hasn’t given up many hits or allowed many base runners, however the ones that he has let through have been deadly. Obviously pitching against the Bronx Bombers isn’t exactly an easy task, so he’ll need to bring his A-list game tonight. The Yankees will counter with Ivan Nova, who – go figure – hasn’t lost in 15 straight decisions. He needs one win to tie Roger Clemens’ franchise record with 16 straight. The Orioles are going to try everything in their power to ensure that doesn’t happen on their watch. However keep in mind that Nova was beaten around pretty well last week by Detroit but earned a no decision. So he can be beaten.
Left fielder Nolan Reimold returned to Baltimore yesterday and was diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back. The Orioles are not expecting Reimold to see time on the DL, and they’re saying that there’s a chance he might join the team for this weekend’s series in Boston. However the concerning thing is that Reimold is starting to have injuries left and right at this young an age. The other issue is that Reimold’s been a beast at the plate this year; you just have to hope that this doesn’t turn into another Brian Roberts situation where the guy can’t stay healthy.
I don’t want to dwarf the point of Buck Showalter winning his 1,000th game as a major league manager. Part of the business of sports is milestones, and this is a big one from the standpoint of a manager. Baseball is also kind enough at times to provide us with small oddities such as Showalter winning his 1,000th game against the Yankees, the team with which he won his first. Showalter’s career has spanned four different teams: the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and now the O’s. Countless number of players have affected him during that span of time, including Derek Jeter, Randy Johnson, and Adam Jones. Best wishes to Buck Showalter, and many congratulations on a great career thus far, and here’s to many more wins…in the orange and black! (Check out “the hub” section of the Birds Watcher site for more on Showalter’s 1,000th win.)
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