Again folks, let me say that I’m not actively watching these Baltimore Orioles games for the time being and I’m doing these game recaps from the island of Sicily. (And no, I’m not hiding out in the tradition of Michael Corleone in The Godfather!) That said, it’s come to my attention that there was just a bit of controversy in yesterday’s game in New York involving umpire Gary Darling. According to Roch Kubatko of masnsports.com, the O’s appeared to have Chris Stewart picked off at second at one point, only to have Darling rule him safe. These are the kinds of calls that have haunted the Orioles over time in that the benefit of the doubt seems to go the other way. However good teams overcome things like that.
Jason Hammel pitched one-run baseball, which is a good sign. The not-so-good sign is that he threw over 100 pitches in five innings. Hammel’s line: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. I would submit that Orioles fans shouldn’t be overly harsh on Hammel in terms of longevity in the game. Again, New York is a team that produces grinding at-bats. It’s something upon which I can’t really seem to put my finger in that it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, or the likes of Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells…guys wearing pinstripes seem to go deep into counts. That’s most definitely to their credit without a doubt, but it’s frustrating to play against from the Orioles’ standpoint. Nevertheless, they wear out opponents’ pitching, which is why it’s important to have a quality bullpen when playing against them.
Eduardo Nunez hit a sac fly to Chris Dickerson in left which scored a run for New York in the second. That 1-o lead held up until the last of the ninth. Regardless of whether or not your closer is a bit shaky here and there or it’s the great Mariano Rivera, a one-run lead in the ninth inning is pretty slim. It also leaves little margin for error on the part of the guy closing the game. So when Nick Markakis singled to center with one out, the Orioles were immediately in business with the tying run being on base. There’s been much criticism directed towards Adam Jones given that he’s been a free swinger of late. However sometimes that pays off; Jones took one strike and then sent a deep drive to left field which cleared the wall.
With Jones’ home run off of the guy many tab as the greatest closer ever, the Orioles took a 2-1 lead in a game that nobody thought would see the last of the ninth. (For the record, I’m still going with Dennis Eckersley as the greatest closer of all time…but that’s just my opinion.) Speaking of closers, Buck Showalter showed a lot of confidence in Jim Johnson by bringing him out to close the game with the scrutiny he’s been under after blowing a couple more saves. However this time Showalter’s confidence was rewarded as Johnson sent New York down 1-2-3 to end the game.
Again, good teams overcome bad calls such as that which was turned in by Gary Darling at second base. Granted this recent road trip was a poor one for the Orioles in that they went 2-4, however that’s a great team win that propelled them back into second place and gives them some momentum as they head home for the final stretch before the all-star break. The O’s open up a four-game set with the Texas Rangers tonight at the yard, with Scott Feldman making his home debut as an Oriole. He’ll be opposed by Derek Holland.