Yes, that was a shameless headline! I’ll explain it in a bit. But first, let’s talk about fight night at the Yard!
At the end of the first inning, Buck Showalter came rushing out of the dugout, obviously very upset with Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Though more will be written by others later on this as additional information comes out, apparently Buck was upset about third base coach Bobby Dickerson being yelled at by Girardi. The accusation from the Yankee’s bench was that Dickerson was tipping pitch signals to the hitter. Of course, that was denied by Showalter in the post-game interview – saying that if such was true, certainly Manny Machado would not have been bunting to sacrifice the leadoff double of Nick Markakis over to third base.
I’ll also allow others to weigh in on the ethics of pitch tipping, but will simply say that it is a part of the game – always has been. As a starting pitcher in college, I became a master at watching opposing pitchers during the games when I was not playing and figuring out what pitch was coming – though most of my guys were not actually interested in my research findings.
I will say that I love Buck Showalter for standing up for his guys and his team. Every year at FanFest, Buck has several remarks about the New York Yankees and how the Orioles have no need of being intimidated or standing in awe of them or their tradition. The Orioles are professionals also … just beat them! All of this is a part of the culture change that has transpired over the past 25 months. This is a good thing.
Chris Tillman was the star player of the game, notching his 16th win in the Orioles 4-2 series opening victory. Totaling nine strikeouts over seven innings, he gave up solo homers to Alex Rodriguez in the 1st inning, and also to Lyle Overbay to open the 8th. It was one of those nights where Tillman had all of his pitches working. The bottom of the 7th inning was a masterpiece of pitching, as Tillman struck out the side; the mix of pitches was unhittable and the fastball was still in the mid 90s.
After a series with the White Sox where the Orioles were 3 for 37 with RISP, they improved tonight to 2 for 8! With the first two Orioles runs scoring on sac flies (good situational hitting as well), the third and fourth runs were driven in on two-out hits by Markakis and Machado.
Tonight was a game where the Orioles prevailed by accomplishing the little things, rather than through dependence upon the big fly. This was especially true in the bottom of the 5th inning. After J.J. Hardy opened the frame with a double, he took third on the throw of A-Rod to first base on Danny Valencia’s groundout. This positioned Hardy to then score on Matt Wieters’ fly ball to center field.
Next, with the bases empty and two out, Alexi Casilla drew A-Rod in to the edge of the grass with a fake bunt, then driving a grounder past him into left field. After narrowly stealing second base (due largely to Sabathia’s indifference in holding him), Markakis was set up for the aforementioned two-out grounder through the middle.
The Yankees threatened in the 9th, as the always do, with an A-Rod single on a full count. A bad throw by Casilla on the back side of a double-play grounder helped extend the inning, and the final out on the warning track in centerfield did not help my pace-maker. But having pointed out this pattern of the Yankees in the 9th inning when losing, it is fair to say that the Orioles have become this kind of team also. They don’t go away quietly … and again, we’re back to talking about the new culture. And it sure beats the way of life from 2011 and before.
And finally this – Adam Jones just tweeted: Showalter tapped into his inner Earl Weaver tonight. I kinda LOVE IT #StayHungry