AL Division Series Game Two: Orioles 3, Yankees 2

The Baltimore Orioles beat the New York Yankees 3-2 in game two of their AL Division Series, tying the series at one game apiece.

This game progressed similarly to last night as a low scoring affair where starting pitching reigned supreme. Unlike last night, there was no ninth inning collapse for the Orioles after a perfect, 12 pitch ninth for Jim Johnson sealed the deal. 

The Yankees started the scoring in the first inning against Wei-Yin Chen after a Robinson Cano double brought home Ichiro with a unique way to avoid the tag at the plate. After that unearned run scored, Chen shut down until he was sent out for the seventh inning, when he allowed an Eduardo Nunez double to lead off the inning and a single by Derek Jeter to bring Nunez in. But aside from those two hiccups, Chen was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Orioles. In his 6 1/3 innings, Chen allowed eight hits, the two runs, walked only one hitter, and struck out three New York batters. He wasn't dominant or overpowering, but the Yankees continually made weak contact against him.

As for the Orioles offense, they had their work cut out for them against playoff veteran Andy Pettitte. Pettitte stepped up to the occasion, going seven innings and allowing three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out five. But on Monday night, that just wasn't good enough to get the win. Baltimore answered New York's first inning run with two of their own in the third on a single by Chris Davis. Davis' single was followed up by a single by Adam Jones that should have brought JJ Hardy home from third, but a deke from Alex Rodriguez resulted in Hardy stopping at third when he could have scored without a throw. The play had the potential to loom large in a low-scoring game like this one, and it could have ended up as a much bigger play before the sixth, when Mark Reynolds brought Matt Wieters home with a single to give Chen some breathing room and make it a 3-1 game.

The Orioles bullpen did what they have done all year: shut down opposing offenses. After Chen left in the seventh with a man on first, Darren O'Day relieved him and struck out Alex Rodriguez, but Ichiro stole second on the play. O'Day was pulled for Brian Matusz, who intentionally walked Cano and then forced Nick Swisher to fly out. In the eighth, Matusz allowed a leadoff single to Mark Teixeira, and then carved up Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson before getting Nunez to pop out to end a harmless eighth. In the ninth, it was Johnson time after Sunday's disastrous outing, and he rebounded in a big way, forcing Jeter and Ichiro to both ground out before striking out Rodriguez to end the game.

Both teams got mediocre offensive production, combining for just three extra base hits, all doubles. But once again, luck was a factor. Baltimore got three hits in six at bats with runners in scoring position, with two of them scoring runs, and the third being a hit that should have brought a run home. As for the Yankees, they went 2/8 with runners in scoring position, and only one of those hits (Jeter's seventh inning single) scored a run. Nick Swisher went 0/2 in those situations, failing to bring Cano home from second in the first inning and flying out in the seventh against Matusz with men on second and third. It's worth noting that both of those at bats ended the inning.

Tuesday will be an offday for both clubs before they get back at it Wednesday in the Bronx. Game three will start at 7:37 PM, and will feature Miguel Gonzalez starting for Baltimore and Hiroki Kuroda starting for the Yankees. With game four in the series now guaranteed to be played, it'll be interesting to see if Orioles manager Buck Showalter names a starting pitcher for the game on Tuesday, or if he waits until after game three.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.