Oct 11, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) hits a double against the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th inning of game four of the 2012 ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE

Best of 23 Series to End on Friday

The Orioles versus Yankees ALDS has to come to an end today – Friday, October 12th. The entire season of head to head competition has to … well … come to a head! The two teams are tied 2-2 for the series, were tied 9-9 in the regular season, and a final best of 23 has to finish tonight. The Orioles have over and over moved up to tie the Yankees. So far, the Bronx boys have been able to momentarily pull away, only to be caught again. It will now end. Either the Orioles will finally get over the hump, or the Yankees will finally swat away the pesky Birds.
Apart from Jim Johnson showing some wear and tear in consequence of his 51-save season, the Orioles pitching has been stellar against a truly powerful lineup. They have held the Yankees to a 6 for 27 (.222) with RISP, though the problem is that the Yank pitchers have been even better against the Orioles – holding them to a mere 6 for 32. New York is hitting but .216 for the series, though the Birds are only at .197.
The Orioles game four 2-1 win in 13 innings featured many critical moments … as would any game of this sort. In the end, it was a pair of doubles by Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy that plated the winning run. A feature of the series is that the lesser Birds – like Machado, Ryan Flaherty, and Nate McLouth – are carrying the team in the absence of hitting from the big Birds like Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters.
Oct 11, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) hits a double against the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th inning of game four of the 2012 ALDS at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
It was good this evening to see J.J. Hardy finally put a good swing on a ball in the middle of the strike zone. He has been flailing at balls out of the zone lately, while watching too many of the best pitches pass by. The Orioles’ shortstop got a lot of his RBI double to left-center – a ball that Ichero seemed (at least to me) to give up on prematurely. Earlier, McLouth made a great play on another ball at that same location. In a sense, these were the two plays that may well have made all the difference.
So will the Orioles break in game five, or will they break through?  Jason Hammel will look to continue the confounding of Yankee hitters in order to win the series.  To do so, the Orioles will need to get him some little support off of C.C. Sabathia – pitching a shutout and playing for a tie won’t get it done. It seems the Orioles now have the situation they most like – their own backs against the wall.
I used to worry if I’d live enough years to ever see the Orioles become competitive and win it all again. Now I worry about how to just make it through the next tense game!
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