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Sep 1, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart (19) and New York Yankees relief pitcher Shawn Kelley (27) react as Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) crosses home plate after hitting a three run home run during the seventh inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Hardy and Jones answer the call

As Orioles’ radio analyst Joe Angel said at the end of yesterday’s game, there are some days where you go to the ballpark and say to yourself that this might be a game that you kind of need to have. Granted that should be every game, but I digress. After dropping the first two games in the Bronx, the Baltimore Orioles found themselves in such a situation. With the losses piling up, their playoff hopes dwindling, and with guys not hitting, it seemed that things were over and done with for the O’s this year. And let’s be frank; things might still be over and done with. However when all was said and done, the Orioles overcame the obstacles in their way yesterday and defeated the NY Yankees 7-3.

Wei-Yin Chen had another lackluster start, albeit certainly better than last time out in Boston. Chen’s line: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 5 K. In Chen’s three runs allowed, he walked one in, and gave up two on sacrifices. However the walks overall were what killed Chen yesterday, and one could sense the largess of the game and of the moment when Buck Showalter inserted Kevin Gausman out of the bullpen to start the fifth. When contending teams get into September it becomes less about letting your starter hold out to try to get the win and more about winning overall. Chen wasn’t getting the job done, and he was removed. On the other hand, Gausman held the game right where it was. He pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit.

The newly-aquirred Michael Morse led off the seventh with a single; overall on the day Morse was two-for-four (in his Orioles debut). NY manager Joe Girardi lifted starter Andy Pettite after Danny Valencia singled as well, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Matt Wieters – who singled Morse home to cut NY’s lead to 3-1. Keep in mind that one thing that’s been absent from this Orioles team of late has been clutch hitting. In this case they had the one run already in, however that came at the expense of a tiring veteran starter. In order for the Orioles to truly overcome the deficet they’d need someone to truly step up in the clutch and deliver.

Courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily for the Birds, two someone’s answered that call. Following Valencia’s single J.J. Hardy sent a shot out of Yankee Stadium, and after only four pitches in the seventh inning the Orioles had a 4-3 lead. Later in the inning with two on once again, Adam Jones did the same to extend the Birds’ lead to 7-3. Jones’ homer was almost just as big – if not bigger – than Hardy’s. How many one-run leads have the Orioles blown this year? A four-run lead is a bit safer in the grand scheme of things. It’s this kind of overall clutch hitting that the Orioles will need throughout September…if they’re going to make it to October.

The O’s will now head to Cleveland in a late afternoon Labor Day matinee; another all-important series. Taking one-of-three will no longer suffice, as the Orioles need to start beating these teams in at least two-of-three games. However make no mistake about the fact that yesterday was a huge win for the Orioles, and in the clutch at that. Bud Norris will get the ball for the Fighting Showalters, and he’ll be opposed by Cleveland’s Justin Masterson.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles J.J. Hardy

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