Let’s start with the game itself and then we’ll get into what everyone really wants to talk about. Chris Tillman provided another quality start for the Baltimore Orioles, who defeated New York in an all-important AL East game, 4-2. Tillman’s line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K. The zero walks sticks out at me as showing that Tillman had pin-point control last night, and New York was unable to muster much offense during the game. They did strike first however, as Alex Rodriguez homered in the first to put the Birds in a 1-0 hole. Perhaps the best news of the night (outside of the victory) for the O’s however was that they manufactured a run in the last of the inning to tie the score. Nick Markakis was sacrificed to third after a double, and he scored on Adam Jones‘ sac fly.
The O’s scored in similar fashion in the fifth, with J.J. Hardy going through the same sequence as Markakis and ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Matt Wieters. Following an Alexi Casilla base hit and a stole base, Nick Markakis’ RBI-single scored another run and put the Birds ahead 3-1. Wieters would later score again on an RBI-double by Manny Machado. Lyle Overbay would add a solo homer for New York, and the Orioles took a 4-2 lead to the top of the ninth. Jim Johnson did allow a base hit to Alex Rodriguez, however two fielders choice’s and a pop fly retired New York, and the Orioles had a 4-2 victory. The Birds now lead New York by a game-and-a-half, and they trail Tampa for second place and for the final wild card spot by the same margin.
Of course, that was the part of the game that was played on the field and which appears in the box score. We had a whole other situation unfold after the last of the first which highlighted this game. Buck Showalter came out of the dugout and went towards the New York dugout screaming at New York manager Joe Girardi. Both benches somewhat emptied, however the umpires intercepted the two managers and restrained them as they all stood on the field yelling at each other for a few minutes. As best as can be deciphered, Girardi had been sitting at the far end of the New York dugout (a rarity for managers, who normally sit closest to home plate) making comments directed at third base coach Bobby Dickerson. When Dickerson took exception to what was being said, Showalter sent him back to the bench (after the inning) and came out to yell at Girardi.
Later on it was confirmed by Showalter that Girardi’s comments were due to the fact that he felt Dickerson and the Orioles were stealing signs. Showalter denied that was going on, and made a good point in doing so; Manny Machado wouldn’t have bunted had the Birds been stealing signs. However as a blanket statement I’ll say that sign stealing is pretty underhanded. It won’t get you suspended or fined, however it is against one of the many unwritten codes of baseball. I think it’s probably a practice from which most fans would rather the Orioles stay away…if it was going on.
Having said that, Showalter said something after the game to the effect that he doesn’t get into the theatrics of things. If he feels something, he says it, and that’s it. However Girardi’s a guy that doesn’t seem to mind getting into the theatrics of the game, and if anything at times will bait other teams into it so as to throw them off. The way that most teams deal with sign stealing is by throwing inside. Most people know that New York has never hesitated to do that. However if that was going on, it was somewhat petty of Girardi to sit in the dugout and make comments towards a base coach on another team. When Showalter eventually came out like he did, Girardi came out of the dugout with that innocent “me?” look on his face. Make no mistake about the fact that this was all done purposely, so as to make New York into the victims. While it’s petty and childish to yell at the opposing third base coach like that (and thus Girardi started the argument), all Girardi knows is that Showalter started yelling at him first.
Warnings were issued to both benches, but this certainly added a little bit of flair to the evening. It’ll be interesting to see if things re-escalate tonight or later in the series, but knowing Buck Showalter they won’t (unless something similar occurs). Another interesting point is that Girardi neglected to say afterwards what the issue was, and all he would really confirm was that the incident occurred. Showalter actually confirmed that the situation was about sign stealing, which shows a certain up frontness on his part. Everyone saw what happened; it’s interesting that Girardi’s hiding behind the no comment response. The series continues tonight with Miguel Gonzalez getting the start for the Orioles; he’ll be opposed by Ivan Nova.
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