It’s funny to say that one specific aspect of a 8-0 victory was a turning point. Heck, I’m not sure that a game with a margin of victory like that should justifiably even have a turning point. However Brett Gardner‘s lead off double in the first inning might have indicated that it was to be a long day – and it was. Just not how we might have thought it was going to be.
Having said that, Gardner made it to third base and was initially ruled safe. Buck Showalter challenged the call, which in my view at the time was an unnecessary risk. My personal opinion was that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. But after further review the umpiring crew overturned the call and ruled Gardner out at third base. It’s tough to say how the game would have unfolded had that call gone the other way. But needless to say it set the tone for the day.
Chris Tillman turned in arguably his best performance of the season. Tillman’s line: 7 IP, 4 H,
0 R, 4 BB, 2 K. Like in 2013, the key for Tillman was his off speed pitches, which he was able to get across when he needed to do so. Speaking of pitching, the consensus going into the game was that Masahiro Tanaka would dominate Baltimore Orioles bats. But that went out the window in the second inning when Jonathan Schoop hit a Tanaka pitch deep into left field to give the Birds a 1-0 lead.
This is not to say that New York never amounted a challenge to Tillman and the Birds. Ellsbury led off the fourth with a double, and with two outs NY had runners at the corners. However Tillman induced a comebacker directly to his glove off the bat of Kelly Johnson, and that particular threat was done.
The Orioles’ 1-0 lead in theory would have been safe given that Tillman and reliever TJ McFarland (who pitched innings) held New York off the board. However you never assume anything until the 27th out is recorded. So when Jonathan Schoop manufactured an RBI on a fielders choice and Caleb Joseph produced a sac fly-RBI, the Orioles suddenly found themselves leading 3-0 with a bit of breathing room.
With one out in the 8th the O’s had two runners in scoring position and New York opted to intentionally walk Chris Davis. J.J. Hardy came to the plate with hopes of replicating his first homer this season (which came on Saturday) with his second – which of course would have been a grand slam. Hardy was unable to do that, however he did hit a bases clearing three-RBI triple which gave the Birds a 6-0 lead. Hardy would run the lead to 7-0 when he scored on Manny Machado‘s RBI-single.
So most of the drama was gone from the game as one could imagine, however catcher Caleb
Joseph decided to give Orioles fans one more thrill on the afternoon, as he launched his first big league home run into the left field grandstand, sending most of the Yankee Stadium crowd that remained to the exits.
Many fans will complain that the Orioles didn’t sweep this series, and perhaps it’s a point well taken given that New York won with two outs in the ninth on Friday. However the fact is that if you’re taking two-of-three in series’ you’re doing fine. And let’s not forget that this is now two consecutive road series’ in the AL East in which the O’s have taken two-of-three. The win brought the Orioles into second place in the division, and to within a game-and-a-half of first place Toronto.